Majority of Americans Self-Censor Political Views in Public, Survey Finds

(Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters)

About three-fifths of Americans believe that the national political climate prevents them from voicing certain opinions, according to a yearly survey by the Cato Institute.

The survey, conducted in July 2020, found that 62 percent of respondents either “strongly” or “somewhat” agreed with the statement, “The political climate these days prevents me from saying things I believe because others might find them offensive.” Fifty-eight percent of respondents agreed with the same statement in the survey taken in 2017.

Conservative respondents were in general more likely than Democrats to report that they worried about publicly airing certain views. The survey found that out of a range of political groups ranging from “staunch liberal” to “staunch conservative,” the only group for which a majority of its members felt that they could safely voice their opinions were staunch liberals.

Conversely, 50 percent of staunch liberal respondents said they would support firing a business executive from their job if they donated to the Trump campaign; 36 percent of staunch conservatives said they would support firing a Biden donor from a similar position. Support for firing Trump donors was higher among young Americans, with 44 percent of respondents under 30 years old saying they would do so.

The survey comes with less than three months to go before the general elections, and amid rising concerns over “cancel culture” in the U.S. A Politico/Morning Consult poll released on Wednesday showed that while respondents held disagreements over the precise definition of cancel culture, a plurality of 46 percent felt that cancel culture “has gone too far” in its effects.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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