New Poll Jump Starts Citizen Engagement Effort to Help Unite Americans
Today FixUS, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget’s initiative to engage Americans to better understand and address the root causes of our growing divisions, released a new poll as a springboard for a national dialogue to identify areas of commonality within our highly polarized citizenry. The Ipsos poll explored the topic of what values, goals, and aspirations Americans feel most strongly about for themselves, their communities, and their country.
“It goes without saying that 2020 has been a tumultuous year already, and we are still in the closing chapter of a highly contested Presidential election” said Maya MacGuineas, FixUS co-founder and president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “Americans feel divided and alienated from one another and from the political process. It is important that no matter the outcome of the election, we remain focused on what will be the long and difficult work of reuniting the country.”
Fielded last month, the poll was designed to better understand Americans’ goals and values at the individual, community, and national levels. The findings confirm what many already suspect to be true: Americans lack consensus on national goals, with starkly different views about the current state, direction, and future of the country.
The poll found that Democrats rank “improving healthcare affordability” and “improving racial justice” as their top priorities, whereas Republicans rank “having a strong and growing economy” and “putting America first” as top national policy goals. By wide margins Republicans much more than Democrats believe America has “a strong and growing economy” (81% to 37%), has “affordable healthcare” (57% to 22%), “ensures racial justice” (65% to 22%), and “provides jobs and opportunity for all” (85% to 35%).
But the poll also signaled potential areas of commonality. “While this poll only scratches the surface when it comes to understanding the challenges facing our democracy, it provides reasons to be hopeful,” said Michael V. Murphy, Director of FixUS. “The results show that despite our divisions, there are core values and goals at the individual and community level that, if better understood and focused on, may serve as a bridge to overcome the divides that at the national level dominate our daily discourse.”
Most Americans believe the country to be characterized by certain underlying values. For example, more than 80 percent of Americans hold such values as free speech, equal justice under law, and ensuring everyone has an opportunity to succeed, as defining national values. Americans are also united on fundamental and simple goals for ourselves, our families, and our communities, including being healthy, having financial security, and living in safe communities.
“One thing this poll tells us is that efforts to unite our divided nation are going to have to start at the community level, where people come together every day to solve hard problems and work toward the common good. As citizens, no matter our political viewpoints, we should demand no less of our leaders in Washington,” Murphy added.
The National Dialogue on Common Values, Goals, and Aspirations will further explore these issues through volunteer focus groups, surveys, and other interactive engagements. Because of the deep distrust and divide between the public and leading institutions, citizens will have to take the lead in rebuilding our nation following the tumultuous events of 2020, and FixUS intends for this effort to serve as a possible model for how to do so.
To learn more and get involved in the national dialogue, click here.
About the study: These are the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between September 2-3, 2020, on behalf of FixUS. For this study, a sample of 1,005 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents.
The citizen-led dialogue needs concerned Americans like you to be involved. Click below to sign up to lend your voice and engage in the discussion to help overcome our divisions.
View the summary of the poll results.
View the topline results of the poll.
View summary tables of the poll.