Among President Joe Biden’s main promises upon entering office in early 2021 was that he would unite Americans and end the divisiveness that plagues our politics. His first inaugural address, which he titled “America United,” was largely dedicated to the idea. But as the latest I&I/TIPP Poll shows, despite the laudable intent, it’s yet another failure on Biden’s part, perhaps the most serious one of all.
Revisiting his inaugural speech, Biden had stirring words about the idea of bringing Americans back together, even amid profound political disagreements:
“We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature. For without unity there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward.”
But, sadly, Americans feel more disunited these days than ever.
As the July data for I&I/TIPP’s monthly Unity Index show, Americans aren’t feeling unified these days, with just 27% of those queried describing the country as “very united” (10%) or “somewhat united” (17%). The online national TIPP poll of 1,643 adults was taken July 6-9. It has a margin of error of +/-2.5 percentage points.
The opposite response — “divided” — was overwhelming at 70%, with 29% saying they felt the U.S. is “somewhat divided” and 41% saying it is “very divided.”
The data also show one ironic outcome: Among all three major political groups — Democrats, Republicans and independents — the responses are surprisingly similar, though not identical.
Among Democrats, for instance, 60% say they feel America is divided, compared to 80% of Republicans and 78% of independents. A clear tri-partisan majority.
The same is true for the “unity” response, which gets 37% of Democrats, 18% of Republicans and 20% of independents. Again, not too far apart.
In short, Americans have found “unity” of sorts over being divided.
Not surprisingly, race and gender show some major differences, though perhaps not what one might expect.
Among blacks and Hispanics, as a group, 38% say they feel America is united, compared with just 21% of whites. Meanwhile, 58% of the major minority groups say the U.S. is divided, versus 75% of whites.
A similar split is seen by gender. Women, at just 20%, have one of the lowest response rates on “unity,” compared to a male 34% response rate. Conversely, 76% of women called the U.S. divided, higher than the 64% of males.
Another interesting split occurs when looking at where people live. For urban dwellers, 40% believe America is united. That compares with just 21% of suburbanites and 17% of those living in rural areas who think the nation is united.
As might be expected, the opposite is true for the divided response, with urbanites (58%) well below suburbanites (76%) and rural folks (78%).
Is this the new normal, or merely a phase our very old republic is going through?
The TIPP Unity Index began in April 2021, with an initial value of 37.8. By indexing data, monthly comparisons can be easily made. During the first year of its existence, the Unity Index averaged 34.9; this year, it has averaged 30.5.
So, on average, it’s about 9% lower this year than it was last year. But even last year, the lack of unity was noticeable.
As our own poll and others show, the media deserve at least part of the blame for America’s bitter split. By failing, at least in the eyes of most Americans, to cover the news fairly and as objectively as possible, they have contributed to the anger and rancor that now roil America’s social, cultural, political and intellectual life.
But the mostly left-leaning media aren’t solely to blame for the lack of unity.
“Democrats and Republicans don’t just vote differently,” noted Thomas Gift, founding director of of University College London’s Centre on U.S. Politics, in an interview with Newsweek in October 2021. “They reside in different zip codes, have different hobbies, watch different news, espouse different values — pursue different lives.”
True enough, as I&I polling data show. But it’s also true that great leaders are known for bridging differences and bringing people together. As President George Washington noted in 1789: “The influence of your personal character moderates the divisions of political parties.”
Biden’s own poll favorability numbers began plummeting in August 2021, with the botched, premature withdrawal from Afghanistan that led to the death of 13 U.S. troops, the stranding of thousands of American citizens, and the “gift” of nearly $80 billion in high-end U.S. military arms and equipment to the terrorist-supporting Taliban.
Since then, Biden’s policy choices at times seem intended to enrage or exclude the opposition GOP, and the tens of millions of Americans who support them, rather than showing a spirit of compromise.
Not surprisingly, given the many policy failures of his less than two years in office, further splintering Americans along partisan lines, he has the worst favorability ratings at this point in his term of any modern president.
COVID-19 lockdowns and vaccine mandates, rampant 9%-plus inflation, supply-chain disruptions, shortages of baby food and basic household supplies, soaring energy costs due to Biden and the Democrats’ “Green Agenda,” not to mention the imposition of “woke” political agendas on education, the military, corporations and health care institutions, have all contributed to a sense of misdirection and malaise from the White House.
The list above doesn’t include the record surge in illegal immigration across our southern border, which has created chaos in border states and opened the U.S. to foreign terrorists and cartel members. The jump in illegals is now hitting Democrat-run cities hard, in particular Washington, D.C.
Biden’s recent speech on the Jan. 6 hearings, in which he torched former President Donald Trump, certainly won’t help bring Americans together. Some 74 million voted for Trump in 2020.
As we noted, all of these things mentioned above have contributed to the growing political schism in the country that makes uniting Americans very difficult.
In short, the president’s pledge to “unite” all Americans so far looks like just another broken promise by a politician. And it might have major implications for the 2022 midterm elections, with a growing chorus of Democrats and others calling on Biden to resign or vow not to run again in 2024.
Each month, I&I/TIPP publishes polling data on this topic and others of broad public interest. TIPP’s reputation for excellence comes from being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections.
Terry Jones is an 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.