We’re all frustrated by political incivility – but unsure how to fix it
Ninety percent is close to statistical unanimity, and 90 percent of Americans don't agree on much. But that's the share of the electorate expressing frustration with the "uncivil and rude behavior of politicians," a new poll finds. Results show four out of five voters hold special interests, social media and President Trump responsible.
The same survey, however, finds a profound contradiction about what should be done to boost civility and good manners in public life.
"Compromise and common ground should be the goal," 80 percent of Republicans, 87 percent of independents and 90 percent of Democrats told pollsters from the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service.
And then 85 percent of Republicans, 69 percent of independents and 78 percent of Democrats declared themselves tired of their political leaders compromising their values and urging them to stand up to the other.
Republican pollster Ed Goeas of The Tarrance Group and Democratic pollster Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners conducted the research. It's similar to the bipartisan polling they've been conducting for two decades.
"Too often, the expedient and confidence-building solution in campaigns and in policy debates is harshly attacking political opponents. This will not change until voters and political leaders demand better," Goeas wrote. "When the reward for attacking opponents is eliminated, politicians will change their tactics. Successful politicians quickly adapt to the tactics that give them the greatest opportunities for success."
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Lake noted that "the feeling that politicians are more concerned with helping special interests than their constituents also transcends partisanship," and so "candidates who are able to attain an authentic identity — and achieve separation from their opponents — on this issue stand to reap significant political rewards."