UC Davis report studies political violence ahead of midterms

UC Davis report studies political violence ahead of midterms

SACRAMENTO – What is on the minds of voters as Election Day approaches?

In California, there is inflation, economy, crime, abortion, and homelessness. But the issue most pressing to some voters is not even on the ballot.

This election cycle, America's democracy seems fragile to some voters.

"I think it's about to blow up," said Jocelyn Newman as she returned her vote-by-mail ballot. "I'm a little scared [about] what's going to happen at the end of next week."

It is not merely a feeling.

A new UC Davis report examined supporters of the former president to see how likely they are to support violence to advance political objectives.

According to researchers, respondents believed another U.S. civil war is likely and that it's more important to have a strong leader than democracy in America. 

"However, they are not more likely to say that they would engage in that violence themselves," said Dr. Garen Wintemute, an emergency physician and director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis.

With the visibility of acts and threats of political violence, is it possible to reverse course?

Researchers believe dialing down the rhetoric is a start and people need to sound the alarm.

"If you see something, say something," Dr. Wintemute said.

Threats of political violence, skyrocketing costs and quality-of-life issues have people stressed.

A poll shows more than a quarter of adult Americans are so stressed, they cannot function.

But experts believe there are ways around stress, especially with elections.

"Meaningful engagement is the most important thing we can do," said Dr. Tania Israel, a professor in the Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology at UC Santa Barbara.

Dr. Tania Israel believes instead of turning away from politics, people should turn to it whether it would be voting, getting out the vote or campaigning for candidates and issues.

"It's a privilege and an honor to be a citizen to be able to vote," said Kin Long, a Sacramento resident.

As with any election, loses and wins follow and may be the time to reach out to people with opposing viewpoints.

"Is there something that I can understand about people who went a different way with this?" Dr. Israel said. "It doesn't necessarily mean that they're monsters."

Read more

We and our partners use cookies to understand how you use our site, improve your experience and serve you personalized content and advertising. Read about how we use cookies in our cookie policy and how you can control them by clicking Manage Settings. By continuing to use this site, you accept these cookies.