© 2024 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Sacred Heart pollster sees more agreement on polarizing issues than expected

Rasande Tyskar

A new Sacred Heart University poll reflects the political polarization in the U.S., from the January 6 riot to critical race theory.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans think government officials who supported the riot should be held legally accountable.

Bill Yousman, an associate professor in Sacred Heart University’s department of Media and Performing Arts, oversaw the poll.

“To me, I look at that and I think, yeah, a large number of people understood the seriousness of what happened that day, they understand why it actually was a criminal act, and they are in favor of holding government officials supportive of it responsible for that support,” Yousman said.

But that changed when pollsters attached a name — former president Donald Trump. Just over half think he should be held liable.

“That’s more of an indication of how polarized of a nation we are. Because there are still close to half of the country that are supportive of Trump, or who would be willing to hold an unnamed government official responsible but not an identified person like former president Trump,” Yousman said.

Americans are split fairly evenly on LGBTQ issues — including whether trans athletes should be able to compete as their identified gender, and whether school districts should develop policies to address the needs of trans youth.

The poll also found Americans are split on critical race theory. But Yousman said most respondents did agree schools should teach the racial history of our country.

“At the same time, it almost makes me wonder whether the polarization in the country is overstated — 75 percent of the people polled believe that K-12 students should be learning about the history of racial injustice. That’s a significant finding. Maybe there are things we have more agreement about than we’re willing to acknowledge,” Yousman said.

Yousman said those agreements might become clearer if people were willing to sit down and have conversations with each other.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.