Nov 14, 2019 - Technology

Two Americas on everything

Tic tac toe board with elephants and donkeys

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Imagine Watergate — or even the Clinton impeachment — in a country this divided.

The big picture: Americans no longer agree on just about anything, down to the level of who can be trusted to arbitrate truth from fiction or how to differentiate common sense from nonsense, according to a new AP-NORC poll.

Why it matters: Democratic institutions have long functioned on trust that is vanishing before our eyes, with the institutions looking similarly vulnerable.

By the numbers, per the poll: 47% of Americans say they struggle to determine whether information is true.

  • Democrats and Republicans both struggle with this process, although they turn to very different gatekeepers.
  • Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they often come across one-sided information and about six in 10 say they regularly see conflicting reports about the same set of facts from different sources, according to AP.

Between the lines: Democrats are more likely to say they rely on scientists and academics, while Republicans are more likely to trust what they hear from President Trump.

  • But majorities have little to no confidence in information they get about the government from social media, the president, members of Congress and businesses, the poll found.

Of note: The poll was conducted Oct. 15–28 of 1,032 adults using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel that's designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is ±4.2 percentage points.

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