Violence in America: Increasingly Uncivil Political Climate Is Making Things Worse, Poll Finds

Majority of Americans believe the uncivil political tone in the U.S. is getting worse
A man takes part in planting some of the 3,000 U.S. flags placed in memory of the lives lost in the September 11, 2001 attacks, at a park in Winnetka, Illinois, September 10, 2016. A poll released on June 20, 2017, finds majority of Americans believe the uncivil political tone in the U.S. is getting worse. Jim Young/REUTERS

A majority of Americans say the constant fighting and division across party lines in the U.S. is getting worse, and the increasing tension between Republicans and Democrats is causing a slither of Americans to feel like their lives may be threatened, according to a CBS poll released Wednesday.

Sixty-eight percent of American adults said the uncivil tone of political debate has been getting worse in recent years while just seven percent of American adults say the political climate is getting better. Twenty-four percent of adults say the tone of political debate currently in the U.S. was the same as it has always been.

The majority of adults who felt like the level of civility in American politics was worsening came from across all party lines, with about two-thirds of conservatives, liberals and moderates feeling like things have gotten worse in recent times.

Some people even believe that the growing divide between conservatives and liberals is encouraging violence. While 85 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of Republican and 68 percent of independent adults believed the current political debate encouraged violence, a whopping total of 73 percent of all American adults say the increasingly uncivil tone of politics encouraged violence.

There was also a small group of Americans—21 percent of Republicans and 25 percent of Democrats—who felt like the growing partisan divide was becoming a threat to their lives.

Despite the civil unrest, the majority of adults—77 percent Republicans and 71 percent of Democrats—say adults of opposing parties were merely just people they disagreed with. And the majority of folks across all party lines say congressional leaders, regardless of party affiliation, were still capable of coming together. Some 56 percent of Republicans, 51 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of independents were optimistic that people of different political views could put their differences aside and come together.

The poll, which surveyed 1,117 adults across the U.S. by telephone from June 15 through 18, comes just days after House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Republican, was shot during a congressional baseball practice in Virginia. Scalise was shot by James Hodgkinson, a former Bernie Sanders volunteer, who was killed by police.

Following the incident, members across all party lines managed to come together to support Scalise, and many even vowed to emphasize more bipartisanship during Thursday's congressional baseball game between Republicans and Democrats.

The CBS poll had a margin of error plus or minus four percentage points.