More than two-fifths of Americans believe a civil war in the next 10 years is at least somewhat likely, according to a new survey — a figure that rises to more than half among self-proclaimed “strong Republicans.”
Amid heated rhetoric from supporters of Donald Trump, the findings, in research by YouGov and the Economist, follow similar results in other polls.
On Sunday night, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham predicted “riots in the streets” if Trump is indicted for holding classified documents after he left the White House, materials recovered this month by the FBI in Trump’s home. .
Graham received widespread reprimands. On Monday, Mary McCord, a former deputy deputy attorney general, told: CNN it was “incredibly irresponsible for an elected official to actually make veiled threats of violence, only if law enforcement and the Department of Justice … do their job”.
Saying “people are angry, they can be violent,” McCord said, showed that “what” [Trump] knows and what Lindsey Graham also knows…is that people listen to that and actually mobilize people and do things.
“January 6 was the result of the same tactics by President Trump and his allies.”
Nine deaths, including suicides among police officers, have been linked to the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol attack, when Trump supporters said they had to “fight like hell” to undo his defeat to Joe Biden as they tried to stop the certification of the election results.
Since then, fears of political violence have increased.
Most experts believe that a large-scale armed conflict, such as the American Civil War of 1861-1865, remains unlikely.
But many fear an increase in sharp political divisions and explicit political violence, especially as Republican politicians who support Trump’s lie about electoral fraud are running for Congress, the governor’s mansions and key posts for the state elections.
This month Rachel Kleinfeld, a civil conflict specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told The Guardian: “Countries with democracies and governments as strong as America’s do not fall into civil war. But if our institutions weaken, the story could be different.”
In the YouGov and The Economist poll, 65% of all respondents said political violence has increased since early 2021. Slightly fewer, 62%, thought political violence would increase in the coming years.
The participants were also asked, “Looking ahead to the next 10 years, how likely do you think it is that civil war will break out in this country?”
Of all US citizens, 43% said a civil war was at least somewhat likely. Among strong Democrats and independents, it was 40%. But among strong Republicans, 54% said a civil war was at least somewhat likely.