Rude Behavior in Everyday Life and on the Campaign Trail

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research conducted a national survey of 1,004 adults using AmeriSpeak to investigate how the public feels about the manners of their fellow Americans and the tone of today’s political campaigns.

The behavior and speech of Americans has deteriorated in the last few decades, according to a recent poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. However, most Americans feel the disrespectful tone of political campaigns these days surpasses the level of rudeness in everyday life.

In general, the public disapproves of behavior ranging from using cellphones in restaurants to making sexist statements in public. At the same time, a large majority say political leaders should be held to a higher standard than average Americans, and many think candidates should be sensitive to the possibility of upsetting people while on the campaign trail.

Prominent politicians from both parties, including President Obama and House Speaker Paul Ryan, have criticized the rancorous character of the Republican campaign this year, and the public agrees. But the public perceives different levels of rudeness for the two major parties. The Republican campaign is viewed as rude and disrespectful by nearly twice as many Americans as characterize the fight for the Democratic nomination in that way (78 percent vs. 41 percent). About a third of Americans consider both campaigns to be at least somewhat ill-mannered.

The nationwide poll of 1,004 adults used AmeriSpeak, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Interviews were conducted between March 17 and 21, 2016, online and using landlines and cellphones.

Three Things You Should Know
From The AP-NORC Center’s Poll on rude behavior in the United States

Among all American Adults:

  1. While 74 percent of Americans feel that, overall, people have become more ill-mannered in the past 20 or 30 years, 68 percent say the disrespectful tone of political campaigns these days surpasses the rudeness of everyday life.
  2. Most people consider vulgar language and bigoted comments inappropriate. However younger adults are more inclined to admit to this type of behavior than older Americans.
  3. The Republican campaign is seen as rude and disrespectful by 78 percent of Americans; 41 percent say the same about the Democratic campaign. Thirty-five percent say both campaigns are rude and disrespectful.