The 2016 Campaign, and the Death of Civility

A new survey finds that civility is almost dead in the U.S. The horrible 2016 campaign may kill it outright.

The survey, from Zogby and Allegheny College, finds that civility is definitely on the wane.

For example, in 2010, 89% of respondents said commenting on another’s race or ethnicity in a political engagement was not okay. Today that number has dropped to 69%, a full 20 points.

Similarly, 81% of those polled in 2010 said commenting on someone’s sexual orientation was not acceptable. Today that number is 65%.

The survey found fewer voters today hold civility to be important or even possible.

Eighty percent of 2016 respondents said they believe civility in politics is important for a healthy democracy, compared to 95% in 2010.

And 77% of 2016 respondents said it is possible for people to disagree respectfully, compared to 87% of 2010 respondents.

Chicken or (Rotten) Egg?

So, things have gotten worse. But how much of this is due to the nasty 2016 election?

Put another way, is the 2016 election the result of a coarsening political discourse, or is it a freak event that is pushing things in a less civil direction? The answer will come once the election is over.

We’ll all have to wait and see.

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