Hand placing a piece of pager into a clear ballot box in front of the United States flag

poll: 60 percent of voters avoid talking about controversial issues like gender identity

© iStock - sefa ouzel

Glenn Minnis

(The Center Square) – Nearly six out of every 10 voters admit they are now staying quiet about certain issues in order to keep the peace and avoid conflict, a new Morning Consult poll finds.

In the poll of 2,007 voters commissioned by State Policy Network, researchers found that 59 percent of respondents insist they are now taking such steps, especially when it comes to hot-button subjects as sexual orientation and gender identity, political campaigns and abortion.

“We’ve gone through a period where debate on difficult topics has gotten very ugly,” State Policy Network Senior Messaging Strategist Erin Norman said. “It’s common to see people compare relatively minor disagreements on policy to instances of slavery or genocide. Most people just aren’t interested in having those types of discussions and for most people politics isn’t the focus of their life. It’s easier to just stay quiet than deal with any potential fallout. Especially when you see how the mob can swiftly turn and threaten careers and livelihood.”

Still, Norman added she isn’t surprised that researchers found when voters do speak out less than one out of every four of them (22 percent) insists they aren’t lying about their true feelings.

“The people you do see speaking out are the ones drawn to the chaos or have a significant incentive, like getting elected or making a lot of money off of making people angry, to do so,” she added. “Most people are talking quietly in circles of people they trust – not with a megaphone.”

Topping the list of subjects voters said they make every effort to steer clear of is sexual orientation and gender identity at 34 percent, followed by political campaigns and abortion, both at 32 percent.

“A lot of political communication is designed to stir up emotion – particularly fear,” Norman added. “You are seeing the result of decades of people deciding to use fear to persuade on politics. It’s why Obama was able to win so decisively in 2008 – he was talking about hope for a brighter future and that break from the cycle of fear was very welcomed.”

On the political front, 32 percent of voters said they have totally stayed away from that subject, with 28 percent of respondents adding they have specifically refrained from taking about Democrats and 29 percent saying the same about Republicans.

On the subject of guns, 27 percent of respondents said they now stay away from the subject, the same as with race relations; and 25 percent said they no longer openly discuss the issue of immigration.