Joe Biden Welcomes America 'Coming Back Together'—But Ideological Chasms Remain

President Joe Biden spoke of America "coming back together" on July 4—and while physically this might be the case, the nation's chasm in public opinion remains.

Events across the U.S. over the holiday weekend have marked a fledgling return to normalcy, as restrictions put in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic continue to lift.

Speaking on Sunday, Biden said: "Today, all across this nation, we can say with confidence: America is coming back together."

While gatherings—such as the 1,000 strong congregation at the White House—indicated a beginning to the end of physical separation between people, polling shows that citizens remain far apart when it comes to their thoughts on key issues of the day.

Any notion of Democrats and Republicans coming together under Biden is "at best, wishful thinking—and, at worst—pure fiction," Thomas Gift, founding director of University College London's Centre on U.S. Politics, told Newsweek.

"Biden is clearly less divisive than Trump, but the rifts in America's social and political fabric are much too deeply embedded for them to be healed in a relatively short period under the new president," Gift said.

"Divergent opinions over the legitimacy of the 2020 election still loom large, and that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Democrats and Republicans taking markedly different positions, both in terms of substantive policies and in their general orientation toward what America represents.

"On issues from climate change to voting rights, mask-wearing to healthcare, racial inequality to 'cancel culture,' there's little evidence that the underlying trend of Americans growing further apart by ideology is receding.

"Add to that the combustible mix of an ideologically-driven, 24-hour news cycles, combined with a Trump or 'Trump-like' figure potentially waiting in the wings for 2024, and it's hard to be optimistic about the prospects of partisan healing."

While Biden also used his address to encourage people to get vaccinated—calling it the "most patriotic thing you can do"—people's opinions divide down partisan lines. Around 67 percent of adults have had at least one shot, falling shy of Biden's 70 percent goal he had set for July 4.

Washington Post/ABC News polling—conducted among 907 U.S. adults from June 27 to 30—showed that among its sample 86 percent of Democrats had had at least one vaccine shot compared to 45 percent of Republicans.

There was also a partisan split in terms of those who say they will not get vaccinated. Among Democrats, 6 percent said they were not likely compared to 47 percent of Republicans. More than a third of Republicans (38 percent) said they would definitely not get the vaccine.

Polling also indicates a divide in people's opinion on the direction the country is headed in general—with more saying they think it is headed in the wrong direction than right.

Real Clear Politics' tracker on this question shows that on average 52 percent think the nation is on the wrong track while 41.4 percent think it is headed in the right direction.

In YouGov/The Economist polling carried out June 26 to 29, 1,500 respondents were asked if they thought things in the country are headed in the right direction or on the wrong track. Almost half, 49 percent, said off on the wrong track while 38 percent said right direction.

This also showed a split down party lines. Among Democrats, most said it was headed in the right direction (65 percent). For Republicans, most said wrong track (74 percent).

And while Biden has campaigned on a vision of unity, sounding a tone of togetherness in his messaging, the chasm is also visible when it comes to opinions on him.

In the YouGov/The Economist polling, 53 percent of Democrats said they strongly approve of the job Biden is doing. Only 3 percent of Republicans said the same, and 62 percent of those affiliated with the GOP said they strongly disapprove.

With this party split remaining, previous polling also indicated the divide goes beyond simple political lines.

Approval over how Biden is handling the COVID-19 pandemic is also split between Democrats and Republicans. A firm majority, 87 percent, of Democrats approve of his actions in this area—split 65 percent strongly and 22 percent somewhat.

Whereas 69 percent of Republicans disapprove, 46 percent strongly and 23 percent somewhat.

Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.

president biden at white house on July4
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a Fourth of July BBQ event to celebrate Independence Day at the South Lawn of the White House July 4, 2021 in Washington, D.C. During his speech, he said: "Today, all across this nation, we can say with confidence: America is coming back together." Alex Wong/Getty Images