The institute surveyed 2,000 Americans and found that 62 percent are reluctant to share their views due to the political climate. In 2017, 58 percent of people surveyed expressed the same opinion.
Republicans are much more likely to be afraid to share their opinions than Democrats and independents, the survey found. More than 3 in 4 Republicans—77 percent—said they are afraid to share their views compared to 52 percent of the Democrats and 59 percent of the independents.
The reluctance to share one’s views appears to grow as respondents shift right on the political spectrum, the survey found.
Compared to 2017, the reluctance to share one’s views increased across the political spectrum. Liberals, moderates, and conservatives were all 7 percent more likely to be afraid to express their opinions.
The increase in reluctance was more pronounced among strong liberals, rising 12 points to 42 percent, compared to 2017. Reluctance to share their views among strong conservatives notched up 1 point to 77 percent.
“This suggests that it’s not necessarily just one particular set of views that has moved outside of acceptable public discourse,” Emily Ekins, research fellow and director of polling at the Cato Institute, wrote about the survey.
“Instead these results are more consistent with a ‘walking on eggshells’ thesis that people increasingly fear a wide range of political views could offend others or negatively impact themselves.”
The self censorship cut across demographic groups as well, with roughly 2 in 3 Latino Americans and white Americans and nearly half of African Americans holding views they are afraid to share. More men (65 percent) than women (59 percent) said the political climate prevents them from speaking their mind.
The Cato Institute also polled respondents on whether they would support firing someone if they had donated to President Donald Trump or presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
The cancel culture manifested stronger among staunch liberals than staunch conservatives. Half of all the people who identified as staunch liberals said they would support firing Trump donors, compared to 36 percent of staunch conservatives who would support firing someone who donated to Biden.
Nearly a third of Americans said they are afraid that their political views may cost them their jobs or career opportunities. In line with the results on cancel culture, the fear was slightly stronger among conservatives (34 percent) than liberals (31 percent).