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July 3, 2024

Survey: 72% of Americans are Stressing About the Upcoming Presidential Election

Political viewpoints in the U.S. have always been contentious, but with the attempted assassination of Former President Donald Trump ahead of what’s anticipated to be a brutal and long campaign season, Americans are feeling especially stressed. Our initial survey of 1,000 Americans found that 53% were stressing about the upcoming presidential election. After the shooting, that statistic jumped to 72%.

60% Report Increased Stress After Shooting of Former President Donald Trump

American reaction to assassination attempt  - thrivingcenterofpsych.com report

3 in 5 Americans report feeling increased stress after the shooting of Former President Donald Trump, and 60% are worried there will be more political violence directed at politicians. 

The top concern Americans have ahead of this 2024 presidential election is misinformation and disinformation followed by the election outcome. 59% are worried about polarization and social division. One way to move forward during this time of uncertainty is to speak about it. 

“Talk about the fear of violence, the importance of safety and communication. Increased tension can lead to worse outcomes if it goes unchecked,” explains Dr. Tirrell De Gannes, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with Thriving Center of Psychology. “Speaking to others can lead to an increased feeling of community and that decreases stress overall.”

Politics and Stress: Politics Negatively Impacts Mental Health of Nearly 1 in 2 Americans

Politics and mental health survey - thrivingcenterofpsych.com report

Over 3 in 4 (76%) Americans feel politics are becoming more stressful in 2024.  51% say politics causes them anxiety, and 20% report it causes them to struggle with depression. The stakes of the upcoming presidential election appear to be higher for many with 51% feeling the outcome could impact their personal safety. That statistic is higher among those who identify as part of the LGBTQ community with 65% worried about their safety. 

While 92% of Americans are planning to vote in the November election, 43% feel their vote won’t make a difference. In fact, nearly half (48%) are struggling with political burnout, or the feeling of physical, mental, or emotional exhaustion when it comes to politics. It’s more prevalent among younger generations, with 50% of Gen Z, 58% of Millennials, and 49% of Gen X reporting they have political burnout in comparison to 34% of Baby Boomers. 

This is leading some Millennials and Gen Zers to remove themselves entirely from electoral politics as over 1 in 10 Millennials and Gen Z are not planning to vote in the 2024 presidential election.

How Politics Are Impacting Women

The state of politics is taking a greater toll specifically on women’s mental health in 2024. Over half (55%) of women say politics negatively impacts their mental health compared to 41% of men. Below is a breakdown showing how women answered some survey questions in comparison to men.

Question: Has the 2024 presidential election caused you stress?

Answer: Yes

  • 53% of Americans
    • 61% of women
    • 45% of men

Question: Has the 2024 presidential election caused you anxiety? 

Answer: Yes

  • 50% of Americans
    • 58% of women
    • 40% of men

Question: Do you feel the outcome of the 2024 presidential election could impact your personal safety? 

Answer: Yes

  • 51% of Americans
    • 56% of women
    • 45% of men 

However, men may not be as unaffected as the statistics show. 

“In many instances, women tend to be more aware of their emotional states and more willing to share and respond to the emotional states of others,” explains Dr. Tirrell De Gannes, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with Thriving Center of Psychology. “The pairing of a lack of emotional awareness and lowered expression is likely the cause for men to display or even recognize how politics impact them. That is not to say that it is not having an impact. It only appears less.”

Talking About Politics Online

Politics and social media- thrivingcenterofpsych.com report

Despite being known as a space that’s not always conducive to positive mental health, social media has always been a hotspot for debate, especially when it comes to politics. While nearly 1 in 4 (24%) Americans post about politics on social media, 56% do not feel social media is a safe space to discuss politics. Interestingly, while older generations mainly agreed with that statement, it was Gen Z who had a different opinion. 54% of Gen Z think social media is a safe space to discuss politics.

That may be because Gen Z uses different social media sites to discuss politics. While the majority of people who talk about politics use Facebook and Twitter, 18% of Gen Z post about politics on TikTok, and 49% post about it on Instagram. 

After posting on social media, many have dealt with less than welcome responses. Nearly 1 in 3 (31%) say they were defriended, 29% dealt with hate speech, and 26% were harassed. It brings to light an important question: is politics making it impossible for Americans with differing political opinions to become or maintain a friendship?

The Impact of Politics on Relationships

49% of Americans say yes: they find it harder to be friends who are affiliated with a different political party than their own in 2024. 30% have lost friends because of differing political views, and 1 in 3 says that has caused them to have strained relationships with family members. Ahead of the presidential election, 1 in 10 are already dealing with strained relationships. 

“There are many different ways to approach the issue of friendship vs. politics but not every option is the right one for an individual,” shares Dr. De Gannes. 

Here are three options to take when it comes to politics and relationships according to Dr. De Gannes: 

  1. Keep the conversation away from the topic

You do not have to share your political views with every friend, similarly you wouldn’t share your sex life with everyone you know. It’s okay to keep some topics to yourself.

  1. Lean into conflict and show an appreciation for the other person’s perspective even it if does not align with yours

We are all inundated with information to support our current beliefs and being open to respectful conversations can allow for friendships to flourish. 

  1. Get comfortable with the idea that not every friend is meant to be in your life forever

Maybe it’s okay for you to lose your favorite drinking buddy if they don’t see eye to eye with you on human rights and can’t have a respectful conversation about your differences.

How Americans Stop Worrying About Politics

Coping with political stress - thrivingcenterofpsych.com report

Americans turn to several different avenues when trying to stop worrying about politics. Some try to remove themselves from the conversation. Over half (53%) stop watching or reading the news, 41% take a social media break, and 32% stop talking about politics. Others do the opposite and reach out to talk with family and friends (29%) or work to educate themselves on current politicians (23%). 

Over 1 in 4 (26%) turn to self-care, and for some, that includes therapy. 23% of Americans who have been to therapy have discussed politics with their therapist. The majority talked about social justice issues, some discussed certain politicians, and others talked about elections. 71% of those say discussing politics in therapy helped them manage their stress a little better. 

“Talking to a good therapist allows you to process information that you may not have had prior and in new ways,” says Dr. De Gannes. “Plus, the impact of politics on mental health (individually and globally) is something that will always be relevant. A supportive perspective on a large topic such as politics can always be beneficial.”

Election years can be tumultuous times in American history. It’s understandable if you’re feeling stress, anxiety, or other mental health issues as an election nears. Take time to care for yourself during this time. If that means disengaging for a bit before returning to the political sphere, that’s okay. If it feels like it’s too much to handle, connect with a professional. Therapists are here to help you navigate times like these.

Methodology

In June 2024, we surveyed 1,031 respondents about politics and their mental health. Respondents ranged in age from 18 to 95, 16% Gen Z, 29% Millennials, 32% Gen X, and 23% Baby Boomers with an average age of 46.

48% were men, 50% were women, and 2% were non-binary or would rather not say. 

In July 2024, after the attempted assassination of Former President Donald Trump, we re-surveyed the same pool of respondents. Of those, 584 responded. The data from those responses is shown within the first graphic.

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected].

Fair Use

When using this data and research, please attribute by linking to this study and citing Thrivingcenterofpsych.com

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