July 20, 2017
Most find it stressful to talk politics with those who differ on Trump
Following an election that had one of the largest gender gaps in history, women are more likely than men to say they are paying increased attention to politics.
And while far more Democrats than Republicans say they have attended a political event, rally or protest since the election, Democratic women – especially younger women and those with postgraduate degrees – are among the most likely to have participated in such a political gathering.
The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted June 27 to July 9 among 2,505 adults, finds that 52% of Americans say they are paying more attention to politics since Donald Trump’s election; 33% say they are paying about the same amount of attention, while 13% say they are paying less attention to politics.
Nearly six-in-ten women (58%) say they are paying increased attention to politics since Trump’s election, compared with 46% of men. Overall, more Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents than Republicans and Republican leaners say they have become more attentive to politics. But there are similarly wide gender gaps in heightened interest to politics among members of both parties: 63% of Democratic women say they are more attentive to politics, compared with 51% of Democratic men. Among Republicans, 54% of women and 43% of men say the same.
Among the public overall, 15% say they have attended a political event, rally or protest since the election – with two-thirds (67%) of this group saying they have done so to oppose Trump or his policies.
Democrats are about three times as likely as Republicans to say they have attended a political event (22% vs. 7%). Among Democrats, there are gender, age, race and education differences in the shares saying they have participated in a political event, rally or protest.
And even within several groups of Democrats, there are sizable gender differences: For instance, while Democrats with postgraduate degrees are more likely than less educated Democrats to have attended a political event or protest, 43% of Democratic women postgraduates say they have done so, compared with 30% of Democratic men with advanced degrees.
The new survey also finds that, nearly nine months after the election, most people (59%) say it is “stressful and frustrating” to talk about politics with people who have a different opinion of Trump than they do; just 35% find such conversations “interesting and informative.”
On the other hand, relatively few say that knowing that a friend had voted for Trump or Clinton would strain their friendship – just 19% say that knowing a friend backed Trump would strain their friendship, while only 7% say the same about learning a friend had voted for Hillary Clinton.
The survey also finds that, despite the nation’s deep political divisions, majorities of both Republicans (56%) and Democrats (59%) say that even though people in the opposing party feel differently about politics, they share “many of my other values and goals.”
How politics impacts conversations and friendships
A majority of the public finds talking with people who have a different opinion from their own about Donald Trump to be a stressful and frustrating experience: About six-in-ten (59%) say it is stressful and frustrating, while about a third (35%) say it is interesting and informative.
Democrats feel more negatively about talking politics with people who have a different opinion of the president than do Republicans. A large majority of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents – nearly seven-in-ten (68%) – say they find it to be stressful and frustrating to talk to people with different opinions of Trump. Among Republicans and Republican leaners, fewer (52%) say they find this to be stressful and frustrating.
White Democrats and Democratic leaners are more likely than black and Hispanic Democrats to say it is stressful and frustrating to talk to people with different opinions of Trump. About three quarters of white Democrats (74%) say it is frustrating, compared with 56% of black Democrats and 61% of Hispanic Democrats.
Overall, more women (64%) than men (54%) say talking to people with a different opinion of Trump is stressful and frustrating. And adults under 30 are more likely to say they find these discussions interesting and informative than do those 30 and older (42% vs. 33%).
Most of the public says learning that a friend voted for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton would not have any effect on their friendships. About one-in-five (19%) say that knowing a friend had voted for Trump would put a strain on their friendship; 7% say knowing a friend had voted for Clinton would strain their friendship.
About a third (35%) of Democrats and Democratic leaners say that, if a friend had voted for Trump, it would “put a strain on [the] friendship;” a smaller share of Republicans and Republican leaners (13%) say the same about learning a friend had voted for Clinton.
Few Democrats and Republicans say a friend voting for their party’s candidate last fall would make a friendship stronger: 13% of Republicans and Republican leaners say a friend voting for Trump would make the friendship stronger, and 12% of Democrats and Democratic leaners say the same.
Among Democrats and Democratic leaners, whites, college graduates and liberals are among the most likely to say knowing a friend voted for Trump would strain their friendship. While 40% of white Democrats and Democratic leaners say this, fewer black (28%) and Hispanic (25%) Democrats say the same. Similarly, there is a 17-percentage-point gap between the share of Democrats with a college degree or more education (44%) and the share with no more than a high school education (27%) saying a friend voting for Trump would put a strain on the friendship.
There is a division on ideological lines among Democrats on whether a vote for Trump would strain a friendship. Liberal Democrats are about evenly divided between saying say their friendship would be strained (47%) if a friend said they voted for Trump and saying it would not have any effect (51%). Far more conservative and moderate Democrats say a friend voting for Trump would not have any effect (73%) than say it would put a strain on the friendship (25%).
Republicans and Democrats see shared non-political values
Despite their political differences, most Republicans and Democrats stop short of saying that people in the other party do not share their other values and goals beyond politics. Among both parties, about four-in-ten (41% of Republicans and 38% of Democrats) say that members of the opposing party “feel differently about politics, and they probably don’t share many of my other values and goals either.” (Note: these questions are based on partisans and do not include those who lean toward the parties).
Majorities in both parties say the other side probably shares their other values and goals: Nearly six-in-ten Democrats (59%) say this about Republicans, while 56% of Republicans say it about Democrats.
While these views are little changed from 2013, in 2007, 53% of Republicans and 51% of Democrats said that members of the opposing party did not share many of their goals and values outside of politics.
There is a significant ideological divide among Republicans about whether Democrats share their other values and goals. About half of conservative Republicans (47%) say Democrats don’t share their other values and goals. By contrast, about a quarter of moderate and liberal Republicans (26%) say the same.
Among Democrats, there is only a modest difference in these views by ideology: 35% of conservative and moderate Democrats say Republicans don’t share their other values and goals; 42% of liberal Democrats say the same.
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