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Post-Election Americans Perceive Less Class Conflict and Tension Over Immigration

Jan 11, 2013
Originally published on January 11, 2013 5:19 pm

You might think that after a pretty rancorous election season there would be lingering acrimony between people who belong to groups embroiled in some of the campaign's most heated debates. But if there is, a new study by Pew found that many Americans don't feel that way.

About 6 in 10 Americans find that there are either "strong" or "very strong" conflicts between the rich and the poor — which is down about 9 percentage points from a survey taken in December 2011. And that was before the presidential campaign, the intense focus on Mitt Romney's wealth and the infamous "47 percent" video.

Similarly, fewer Americans felt that there are strong conflicts between immigrants and people who were born in the U.S., as well.

And the number of people who see serious conflict between blacks and whites stayed about flat, ticking up from 38 percent to 39 percent over the past year, although the number of blacks who felt that way was significantly higher than whites who did (54 percent to 34 percent).

But despite those declines, Americans aren't exactly seeing a flowering of bonhomie.

Sixty percent of people with families earning less than $30,000 a year and 60 percent of those making more than $75,000 felt like there was strong disagreement between the classes. (Blacks, self-identified liberals, and Democrats were significantly more likely than whites, conservatives and Republicans to see serious conflict between the rich and the poor.)

Latinos were also more likely than whites to feel that there were serious divisions between immigrants and the native-born, a number that was more pronounced among second-generation Americans — people with at least one foreign-born parent. Young people between the ages of 18 and 29 also were more likely to feel strong conflict between immigrants and the native-born.

Perhaps not surprisingly, there was overwhelming post-election agreement of strong conflict in one area — that between Republicans and Democrats. In the poll taken in late November and early December, 81 percent agreed with that sentiment. That question wasn't asked in the 2011 survey.

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