Penn State

Who are the most polarizing people in America? What a new poll by Penn State found

San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid and quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneel in September 2016 during the national anthem before an NFL football game. Kaepernick is a particularly divisive figure for Americans, according to a new poll by Penn State.
San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid and quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneel in September 2016 during the national anthem before an NFL football game. Kaepernick is a particularly divisive figure for Americans, according to a new poll by Penn State. AP

The latest Penn State McCourtney Institute for Democracy Mood of the Nation Poll finds that Americans are “sharply divided over the people who shape political life,” according to a university press release.

The release said that the poll uses open-ended questions, which “allow participants to respond in their own words, express what’s on their minds and provide unique observations on contemporary American politics.”

Participants were asked to describe the aspects of politics that made them angry, proud, worried and hopeful. According to the press release, responses indicated that partisan differences have “grown deeper” since the poll began in 2016.

Penn State MOTN_PolarizingFiguresPlot.jpg
Penn State

Among the figures that are particularly divisive? Former NFL player and activist Colin Kaepernick, Special Counsel Robert Muller and now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“In every Mood of the Nation Poll, we have seen voters use polarized language to describe their feelings about politics and the news,” Burt Monroe, Penn State professor of political science and the poll’s chief scientist, said in a press release. “We were particularly struck this time by the politically polarized reaction to public figures who aren’t politicians, like Kaepernick, Mueller and Kavanaugh.”

“Trump” has been the most polarizing word in every Mood of the National Poll since June 2016, according to the press release.

“The language used in Mood of the Nation Poll responses also show deep divides across partisan lines,” the release said. Words such as “resistance,” “protesters,” “immigrants” and “impeachment” were used positively by Democrats and negatively by Republicans. Words such as “tax,” “greedy,” “donald” and “trump” were used positively by Republicans and negatively by Democrats.

The release said the Mood of the National Poll reflects answers provided by a “scientifically selected, representative sample of 1,000 adults.” McCourtney Institute partners with YouGov, an online polling organization, to conduct the fieldwork.

The poll was conducted Sept. 5-9.

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