Posted on April 30, 2023

New Poll Finds America Polarized Over Culture, Race and ‘Woke’

Bridget Bowman, NBC News, April 26, 2023

The country’s cultural divides and political divides have become one and the same, according to a new national NBC News poll.

The poll finds stark partisan differences on major cultural issues — racism, accepting LGBTQ people, the term “woke,” and even the fundamental goals of American society.

Half of Americans — 50% — believe society should be promoting greater respect for traditional social and moral values, while 42% say society should be encouraging greater tolerance of people with different lifestyles and backgrounds. That perspective has stayed almost completely stagnant since the poll asked the same question in 2013.

Digging into those numbers reveals a deep partisan divide.

Three in four Republicans say the country should promote traditional social and moral values, while 67% of Democrats want greater tolerance of diverse lifestyles and backgrounds. Independents are split, with 49% picking traditional values and 41% siding with greater tolerance.

“The survey revealed a country on fire, seething with anger at our political leaders and too often at each other,” said Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research {snip}

The poll “revealed a country sharply divided on these questions politically, and often ethnicity and generation,” he added.

Americans are also divided on whether their country judges by the content of their character rather than the content of their skin. Significant majorities of Black adults (79%) and Latinos (61%) disagree with that statement, while a slight majority of white adults (53%) agree with it.

Overall, 52% of Americans disagree that the country judges people by the content of their character rather than their skin color, while 47% agree.

While this divide is within the poll’s margin of error, it’s the first time since 2008 the majority of respondents have disagreed with the statement {snip}

Asked if American society is racist, 59% of adults agree, with a whopping 79% of Black adults and 69% of Latino adults saying society is racist.


The poll finds that the term “woke” is well known, with 76% of Americans saying they are familiar with the term, while 22% were not familiar with it. But the country is again divided along partisan lines over what exactly “woke” means, and if it is a positive or negative concept.

Open-ended interviews with those polled show that partisans also differ on how to define “woke.” Democrats describe it as a personal view that expresses empathy and awareness of systemic injustices, while Republicans, and some independents, were more likely to describe wokeness as an agenda promoting far-left priorities.