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Partisans view the other side's rallies, protests with suspicion - CBS News poll

By Fred Backus and Jennifer De Pinto  

As the 2018 midterm elections loom, the partisan divide dominates the political landscape, and each side views the other with suspicion. Most Republicans believe people protesting against President Trump are being irresponsible and dangerous. Half of Democrats say the same about attendees at President Trump's rallies. In each case, these partisan views run counter to Americans' overall, who see both as generally safe and responsible.

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Recent events in Washington have made many Americans say they are more likely to speak up about politics (53 percent), with more Democrats (68 percent) than Republicans (51 percent) saying this. 

Current partisans feel more connected to their party than did so in 2010. Four times as many Republicans say their party reflects their values than did so in 2010, before the party gained control of the House that year. More Democrats also feel the party reflects their values today than did so in 2010.

Few foresee that Americans will become more united politically in the next couple of years. Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike are in agreement on this.

Partisan differences continue to mark the way Americans view many of the hot-button issues in American politics today. 

Sixty-five percent of Americans would favor offering everyone a government-run health plan like Medicare. It is supported by almost all Democrats (84 percent) and two-thirds of independents (67 percent) but is opposed by most Republicans (56 percent). Four in ten Republicans do favor it. 

Most Americans across party lines think fundamental changes are needed in the health care system, including about three in 10 who think there's so much wrong with it that it needs to be rebuilt completely. Asked who is responsible for what they dislike about the current system, six in 10 Republicans blame the Democrats for passing Obamacare in 2010, while nearly six in 10 Democrats blame the Republicans for making changes to Obamacare in 2017.

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Most Americans and eight in 10 Democrats see global warming as having an effect on the frequency and severity of hurricanes and tropical storms that hit the U.S., most Republicans think global warming has nothing to do with this.

On global warming more broadly, Americans are increasingly coming to believe that global warming both exists and is caused mainly by human activity. Sixty-one percent now think so, a rise of seven points from just last April. Back in 2011, just 42 percent said the global warming was caused by human activity.

Belief that global warming is a man-made phenomenon has risen across the board politically, though most Republicans continue to remain skeptical.  Most Democrats (85 percent) and independents (60 percent) think global warming is caused by human activity. But while most Republicans believe global warming exists, just 34 percent think it is caused by human activity. Instead, 51 percent say it is caused by natural patterns in the earth's environment. 

In a broader view, Americans across the political spectrum say that the American way of life is disappearing, but they differ on just what constitutes that way of life. Sixty-two percent of Americans agree with the idea that the American way of life – the things that make Americans unique like its culture, values, and traditions – is in danger of disappearing.  Republicans, Democrats, and independents all say this in equal proportions.

Most Republicans and Democrats see both self-reliance and taking care of others as important parts of the American way of life, though Republicans are more likely to cite the former and Democrats, the latter. There are sharper differences on showing respect for authority (which 88 percent of Republicans call very important), and preserving the cultural heritage of America's founders (which 77 percent of Republicans call important) while Democrats are more likely to cite welcoming and accepting people of different cultures (81 percent), and the ability of people to protest authority (75 percent) are important.

Other issues

On immigration, Democrats overwhelmingly see immigrants as making American society better in the long run.  Most Republicans either think they have no real impact either way or that they make American society worse.

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Three in four Republicans support a building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to try to stop illegal immigration, while most Democrats (and most independents) oppose it.  

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Americans are also divided over the recent tax cuts passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump, though more disapprove than approve.  Three in four Republicans approve of the new tax law, while three in four Democrats disapprove. 


This poll was conducted by telephone October 14-17, 2018 among a random sample of 1,108 adults nationwide.  Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Glen Mills, PA.  Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones.

The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone. 

Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers. The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables. 

The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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