More than a year ago — before the pandemic, before two presidential impeachments, before the most divisive election in a generation, before the Capitol attack — we surveyed Americans about their thoughts on the lack of civility and partisan divides in our country.
We heard, not surprisingly, that divisiveness was a big problem — not only for politicians but also for the rest of us, creating anxiety, depression and sadness.
Once the dust settled after the inauguration, we surveyed Americans again, asking some of the same questions as our inaugural Public Agenda/USA TODAY Hidden Common Ground survey in December 2019. The sentiment has not improved, with 14% reporting serious arguments with family or friends as a result of the partisanship and nearly 20% reporting depression, sadness or anxiety. And a growing share think the country will become more destructive in dealing with conflict over the next 10 years.
But in that same survey, nearly half of those polled said they had worked across party lines to solve problems in their communities. And many believe there is more common ground than what they perceive from politicians and the media.