More than two-fifths of Americans believe that a civil war is at least somewhat likely in the next decade. The figure increases to more than half among “strong Republicans.”
New research released by YouGov and the Economist follows similar results in other recent polls.
The findings come amid heated rhetoric from former president Donald Trump and his supporters. Rising fears of political violence come amid a statement by a senior Republican senator that he predicts “riots in the streets” if Trump is prosecuted for mishandling classified information, as well as bizarre and anger-stoking demands by Trump himself that should be declared the president two years after he lost that election.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said Republicans, including him, believe there is “no law” when it comes to Trump, and that “it’s all about getting him.” He threatened there would be “riots in the streets” if Trump is indicated over his retention of classified documents after leaving the White House, materials recovered by the FBI at Trump’s Florida estate recently.
Adding fuel to the fire this week, Trump has published an unhinged post on his failing social media network Truth Social demanding a “new election immediately,” claiming he should be declared the winner of the 2020 election.
Graham’s comments earned the widespread rebuke. Experts have said it is “incredibly irresponsible” for an elected official to make veiled threats of violence, especially violence against law enforcement and the Justice Department simply doing their jobs.
The Jan. 6 insurrection on the White House was the result of this same kind of tactic by Trump and his allies, experts said.
Since Jan. 6, fears of political violence have grown. Most experts believe a full-scale armed conflict such as the American Civil War remains unlikely, but many fear there will be an increase in jagged political division and explicitly political violence.
Fears of increased political violence come on the back of Republican politicians supporting Trump’s lies about elector fraud continuing to run for more seats as Congresspeople, Governors, and key state election posts.
In the poll by YouGov and the Economist, 65% of all respondents said political violence had increased since the start of 2021. Slightly fewer, 62%, thought political violence would increase in the next few years.
Participants were also asked: “Looking ahead to the next 10 years, how likely do you think it is that there will be a civil war in this country?”
Among all American citizens, 43 percent said a civil war was somewhat likely. Among strong Democrats and independents, that number lowered to 40 percent. Among strong Republicans, it increased, to 54 percent.