CBS News poll: Connections and conversations — and why they matter

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This is part 2 in the CBS News poll series “What’s Good?”

All year, Americans have described for us the problems they see, and there is indeed a lot of tough news out there. During the holiday season here, we thought we’d also give them a chance to talk about the topic of talking and getting along.

The holidays are a time Americans might try to come together. At least in principle, most Americans think people can get along. It’s just that politics drives them apart. 

Perhaps to be on the safe side, Americans are overwhelmingly planning to avoid political conversations this holiday season.

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The ones most avoiding it are the ones who say the conversations they have tend to be more unpleasant.

These conversations matter in shaping our views on getting along. 

People who report having pleasant political conversations with those of opposing views are far more likely to believe Americans can generally get along.

Social media

When not face to face, social media has come to dominate so much of our political discussion, but does it forge connections or divisions? 

Americans — and particularly older ones — overwhelmingly think social media drives us apart. But younger Americans (who use it more) are less apt to agree.

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Views are more mixed on the impact of media coverage generally. Half the country thinks the media’s coverage of political stories makes divisions seem larger than they really are. Most who think Americans inherently get along feel that way. A third say divisions are just portrayed as it is.

And all that, in turn, relates to larger ideas like patriotism.

Patriotism and getting along

Eight in 10 Americans consider themselves at least somewhat patriotic. Patriotism has long been used as a marker for a commonality, or something Americans share — even as there’s historically been differences on exactly what it means to practice it.  

Today, it’s somewhat related to the idea of whether one thinks people can get along: those who are very patriotic are more likely to think we can.

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Patriotism does have a generational component too: older Americans over 65 report being very patriotic more than any other age group. And perhaps because party identification is also related to age — Republicans report being very patriotic — more than Democrats do.

In all, there is some relationship between how we feel about connectedness and how we forge our connections, that is, in how we experience political conversations, whether we think Americans can get along, and our larger feelings of patriotism. Plenty of people may be looking to avoid conversations this holiday season, but there’s some indication that if they do, and if they’re pleasant (a big if, perhaps) it can have a positive impact.


This CBS News/YouGov survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 2,182 U.S. adult residents interviewed between December 4-7, 2023. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey and Current Population Survey, as well as past vote. The margin of error is ±2.8 points.

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