This is America today: 62% of Americans conceal their political views out of fear

by Dr. Eowyn

How many of you have experienced what I have? — You’re in a small social gathering. Someone in your group begins ranting about Trump or some other conservative politician or policy, as if everyone in the group is in agreement.

I have never had the experience of a conservative doing that, have you?

Our personal experiences are now confirmed by a July Cato Institute survey that found that Americans increasingly are self-censoring.

Whereas in 2017, 58% of Americans said they concealed their political views, today nearly two-thirds of Americans—62%—say the political climate these days prevents them from saying things they believe because others might find them offensive.

Although conservatives are more prone to self-censorship as you would expect, the phenomenon actually crosses partisan lines, with majorities of Democrats (52%), independents (59%) and Republicans (77%) all saying they have political opinions they are afraid to share.

But it’s not all Democrats.

It’s the bullies, whom Cato Institute calls “strong” or “staunch liberals,” who are the only political group who feel they can say what they believe. Nearly 6 in 10 (58%) of “staunch liberals” feel they can freely voice their opinions, whereas a slim majority (52%) of centrist liberals feel they have to self-censor — an increase of 7% from 2017. This points to the increasing radicalization of some Democrats, who are intimidating even fellow Democrats.

But centrist liberals still have it easy compared to others: 64% of political moderates and nearly 8 of every 10 (77%) conservatives self-censor.

Self‐​censorship is widespread across demographic groups as well. Below are the percentages of each group who self-censor:

  • Race: 65% of Latinos, 64% of Whites, 49% of Blacks.
  • Gender: 65% of men, 59% of women.
  • Income: 60% of incomes over $100,000, 58% of peoople with incomes less than $20,000.
  • Age: 66% of people over 65, 55% of people under 35.
  • Religion: 71% of religious, 56% of non‐​religious.

I was surprised by more men than women engaging in self-censorship.

My interpretation of the smaller percentages of women, blacks, youth, poor, and atheists (or non-religous) who self-censor is that they are probably “staunch liberals” — radical leftists who feel and in fact do freely express their opinions and beliefs, and bully/intimidate/harass others into silence.

Methodology: The Cato Institute Summer 2020 National Survey was designed and conducted by the Cato Institute in collaboration with YouGov. YouGov collected responses online during July 1–6, 2020 from a national sample of 2,000 Americans 18 years of age and older. Restrictions are put in place to ensure that only the people selected and contacted by YouGov are allowed to participate. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 2.36 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence.

~Eowyn