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One of President Joe Biden’s signature promises during the 2020 campaign was that he would “unify the country.” Now, a little more than a year into the presidency, most Americans don’t feel he has lived up to his promise. In fact, the latest I&I/TIPP Poll shows they feel America is divided, not united, under Biden.
“I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify; who doesn’t see red states and blue states, only sees the United States,” Biden told followers after declaring victory on Nov. 8, 2020.
That speech was seized on by many as a sign that years of bitter divisiveness brought on by non-stop investigations and two impeachment efforts against former President Donald Trump were over. The often-expressed hope was that civil political discourse would be restored, and Americans would once again show toleration and understanding for others’ beliefs.
This, in turn, would lead to a new spirit of bipartisanship and policy cooperation in Congress.
Unfortunately, average Americans don’t see things that way.
The I&I/TIPP Unity Index, a proprietary barometer of the country’s unity created by TechnoMetrica, rose to 30.5 in March from its lowest-ever 27 in February. A reading above 50 signals more unity, below 50 signals less. It’s based on the question: “In general, would you say the United States is Very United, Somewhat United, Somewhat Divided, or Very Divided?”
What is perhaps surprising is that this question of whether America is divided or united finds solid agreement across the political spectrum. A strong majority of Republicans (78%), Independents/Others (76%) and Democrats (63%) agree: America is divided, not united.
These polling data come from the I&I/TIPP Poll, which was conducted online from Mar. 2-4. The poll includes responses from 1,318 adults from across the country, and has a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.
In addition to the question above, I&I/TIPP asked: “Which of the following is closer to your point of view?” The possible answers: “President Biden is living up to his promise to unify the country” or “President Biden is stoking partisanship and division.”
The results clearly show why Democrats are scrambling right now to bolster their party’s image among voters as Biden’s presidency plummets in poll ratings.
Some 46% in the I&I/TIPP Poll responded “President Biden is stoking partisanship and division,” while just 34% agreed “President Biden is living up to his promise to unify the country.”
But on this specific question, the political split was notably wide.
Among Democrats, 65% said that Biden’s living up to his vow to unify the country. Only 19% said he was divisive, while 16% weren’t sure. By comparison, just 7% of Republicans called Biden a uniter, while a whopping 84% called him a divider.
Among the independents and other parties, 48% said Biden stoked partisanship and division, while 23% said he had fulfilled his pledge to unify the nation. But 28% said they weren’t sure.
And, once again, the I&I/TIPP Poll is not an outlier or statistical fluke. Other public opinion surveys, including a just-released NBC News Poll, find similar trouble for Biden, showing a dramatic decline in his favorability in recent months even as he seeks to bolster his support.
With that goal in mind, in his Mar. 1 State of the Union address Biden unveiled a four-point bipartisan “Unity Agenda for the Nation,” intended to unite Americans around common policy goals.
The list’s laudable goals included: defeating the opioid addiction epidemic; bolstering mental health, especially for children online; giving help to veterans made sick by giant garbage “burn pits” in Iraq; and slashing the U.S. death rate of cancer by at least half over the next quarter century.
While agreeing with Biden on those four issues, Republicans suggested the political divide was far broader, and included sharp policy differences on what to do about such issues as the U.S.-Mexico border, rising crime rates and police funding, soaring gasoline prices, inflation, education, the COVID pandemic, among other points of contention.
“Instead of moving America forward, it feels like President Biden and his party have sent us back in time to the late ’70s and early ’80s when runaway inflation was hammering families, a violent crime wave was crashing our cities and the Soviet Army was trying to redraw the world map,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said, delivering the GOP’s official response to Biden’s State of the Union address.
Reynolds went on to accuse Biden and the Democratic Party of “ignoring the issues facing Americans or making them worse.”
Each month, I&I/TIPP provides timely and informative data from our polls on this topic and others of major interest to Americans. TIPP has earned a reputation for excellence by being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections.
Terry Jones is editor of Issues & Insights. His four decades of journalism experience include serving as national issues editor, economics editor, and editorial page editor for Investor’s Business Daily.