Most Americans See A Sharply Divided Nation; The Fourth Turning Is Here 

The October 2018 AP-NORC Poll national survey with 1,152 adults found 8 in 10 Americans believe the country is divided regarding essential values, and some expect the division to deepen into 2020.

Only 20% of Americans said they think the country will become less divided over the next several years, and 39% believe conditions will continue to deteriorate. A substantial majority of Americans, 77%, said they are dissatisfied with the state of politics in the country, said AP-NORC. 


The nationwide survey was conducted on October 11-14, using the AmeriSpeak Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Overall, 59% of Americans disapprove of how Trump is handling his job as president, while 40% of Americans approve. 

More specifically, the poll said 83% of Republicans approve of how Trump is handling the job, while 92% of Democrats and 61% of Independents strongly disagree. 

More than half of Americans said they are not hearing nor seeing topics from midterm campaigns that are important to them. About 54% of Democrats and 44% of Republicans said vital issues, such as health care, education, and economic activity, Social Security and crime, were topics they wanted to hear more. 

Looking at their communities, most American (Republicans and Democrats) are satisfied with their state or local community. However, on a national level, 58% of Americans are dissatisfied with the direction of the country, compared to 25%, a small majority who are satisfied. 

Most Americans are dissatisfied with the massive gap between rich and poor, race relations and environmental conditions. The poll noticed there are partisan splits, 84% of Democrats are disappointed with the amount of wealth inequality, compared with 43% of Republicans. On the environment, 77% of Democrats and 32% Republicans are dissatisfied. Moreover, while 77% Democrats said they are unhappy with race relations, about 50% of Republicans said the same. 

The poll also showed how Democrats and Republicans view certain issues. About 80% of Democrats but less than 33% of Republicans call income inequality, environmental issues or racism very important. 

AP-NORC Poll - Which issues are extremely or very important? 

"Healthcare, education and economic growth are the top issues considered especially important by the public. While there are many issues that Republicans and Democrats give similar levels of importance to (trade foreign policy and immigration), there are several concerns where they are far apart. For example, 80% of Democrats say the environment and climate change is extremely or very important, and only 28% of Republicans agree. And while 68% consider the national debt to be extremely or very important, only 55% of Democrats regard it with the same level of significance," said AP-NORC. 

Although Democrats and Republicans are divided on most values, many Americans consider the country's diverse population a benefit. 

Half said America's melting pot makes the country stronger, while less than 20% said it hurts the country. About 30% said diversity does not affect their outlook. 

"However, differences emerge by party identification, gender, location, education, and race. Democrats are more likely to say having a population with various backgrounds makes the country stronger compared to Republicans or Independents. Urbanities and college-educated adults are more likely to say having a mix of ethnicities makes the country stronger, while people living in rural areas and less educated people tend to say diversity has no effect or makes the country weaker," said AP-NORC. 

Overall, 60% of Americans said accusations of sexual harassment with some high-profile men forced to resign or be fired was essential to them. However, 73% of women said the issue was critical, compared with 51% of men. The data showed that Democrats were much more likely than Republicans to call sexual misconduct significant. 

More than 40% of Americans somewhat or strongly disapprove of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court after allegations of sexual harassment in his college years. 35% of Americans said they heartily approved of Kavanaugh's confirmation. 

The evidence above sheds light on the internal struggles of America. The country is divided, and this could be a significant problem just ahead. 

Why is that? Well, America's future was outlined in a book called "The Fourth Turning: What Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous With Destiny."

In the book, which was written in the late 1990s, authors William Strauss and Niel Howe theorize that the history of civilization moves in 80-to-100 year cycles called "saecula." 

The idea behind this theory dates back to the Greeks, who believed that at given saeculum's end, there would come "ekpyrosis," or a cataclysmic event. 

This era of change is known as the Fourth Turning, and it appears we are in the midst of one right now. 

The last few Fourth Turnings that America experienced ushered in the Civil War and the Reconstruction era, and then the Great Depression and World War II. Before all of that, it was the Revolutionary War. 

Each Fourth Turning had similar warning signs: periods of political chaos, division, social and economic decay in which the American people reverted from extreme division and were forced to reunite in the rebuild of a new future, but that only came after massive conflict. 

Today's divide among many Americans is strong. We are headed for a collision that will rip this country apart at the seams. The timing of the next Fourth Turning is now, and it could take at least another decade to complete the cycle. 

After the Fourth Turning, America will not be the America you are accustomed to today. So, let us stop calling today the "greatest economy ever" and start preparing for turbulence.