CNN —Heading into the next presidential election, an analysis of CNN polls shows that Republicans have reverted to the deeply negative national outlook they held prior to Donald Trump’s presidential victory in 2016.
They again are convinced the nation is in decline, and more often defensive against demographic and cultural changes in US society.
In a poll conducted late in the summer of 2016, following Trump’s nomination, roughly half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (49%) said America’s best days lay behind us.
Since then, the GOP has reversed course, becoming less pluralistic and even more pessimistic.
In CNN’s latest polling, released this week, the share of Republican-aligned adults who said the country’s best days are over had skyrocketed to 70%, while the percentage saying that America’s culture was threatened by increasing racial and ethnic diversity rebounded to 38%.
Between 2019 and 2023, the belief that the country’s best days are behind it rose by more than 40 percentage points across age, educational and gender lines.
But the survey also finds Republicans and Republican-leaners are far from wholly unified in their views, with a constellation of interrelated political, demographic and socioeconomic factors dividing views.
And a 54% majority of male, White evangelical Christians find such diversity threatening, a view not shared by most of their female counterparts, or by majorities of those of other combinations of racial and religious backgrounds.
Republicans’ unease with the way that the US is changing ties into opinions of Trump’s legacy.
That’s a key factor, given the likely demographic divides both in whom Republicans support and in how likely they are to vote at all.
Exit polling suggests that in past cycles, older and more highly educated voters tended to turn out disproportionately.
The CNN poll was conducted by SSRS from March 8-12 among a random national sample of 1,045 self-identified Republicans and Republican-leaning independents drawn from a probability-based panel.
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