Across party lines, a majority of Americans admit they are afraid to voice their actual political opinions.
A new Cato Institute/YouGov national survey of 2,000 Americans revealed that 62% self-censor because others might find their comments offensive. In 2017, 58% of Americans agreed with the statement.
Democrats (52%), independents (59%) and Republicans (77%) all agree they have political opinions they are afraid to share. However, among those who identified as ‘strong liberals’, 58% felt they could say what they believe.
The poll did not ask the why the respondents felt their opinions could be offensive, but investigation of the poll’s sub-categories seems to indicate fear of an increasing ‘cancel culture’ with potential repercussions of losing employment and being socially ostracized offering strong motivation.
Respondents across all political and demographic groups feel they’re walking on eggshells.
Even among the most emboldened group, strong liberals, the number who felt pressured to self-censor increased 12 points from 30% in 2017 to 42% in 2020. During the same time-frame, liberals, moderates and conservatives who self-censor increased 7 points: liberals from 45% to 52%, moderates from 57% to 64%; conservatives from 70% to 77%. Strong conservatives increased only 1 point, from 76% to 77%.
Approximately a third (32%) of all respondents fear their political views could hurt the employment or career trajectories. The breakdown by party is: liberals (31%), moderates (30%) and conservatives (34%).
These concerns are reinforced by another set of questions which asked: Would you support or oppose firing a business executive from their job if it became known that they privately donated money to the Biden or Trump campaigns?
Among all respondents, 31% would support firing Trump Donors while 22% would support firing Biden donors.
Among those who identified as Strong Liberals, 50% would support firing Trump donors.
Among those who identified as Strong Conservatives, 36% would support firing Biden donors.
Republicans with the most education were most worried their political views could harm them at work at 40% among those with a college degree and 60% among those with a post-graduate degree.
Among Democrats, 24% with a college degree and 25% with a post-graduate degree worried their political views could harm them at work.
With such large numbers of voters feeling they’re not able to freely speak and express themselves openly due to a lack of tolerance from the so-called ‘other side of the argument,’ the true sentiments of the country may only finally be expressed when this ‘silent majority’ casts ballots in the fall, which could make for a surprising outcome.