In a follow-up to a ground-breaking 2017 study, nationally representative surveys taken shortly before and shortly after the 2020 election indicate that significant numbers of Americans are stressed to the point of illness by the U.S. political climate. Between a fifth and a third blame politics for fatigue, anger, short tempers, compulsive behaviors and poor impulse control. Alarmingly, 5% -- or approximately 12 million Americans -- say politics has given them suicidal thoughts. The results mirror those reported in an identical March 2017 survey, an indication that the findings were not merely a short-term response to an unpopular president taking office. "Traditionally, political engagement has been conceived of as a public good, not a threat to public health," says the study's author, political scientist Kevin Smith. He says additional civic education and efforts to calm the fractious political climate could actually improve public health.
- PLoS ONE