More than half of all Americans say the greatest danger to America's way of life comes from their fellow citizens, according to a CBS News poll released Sunday.
A total of 54 percent of those surveyed said that "other people in America, and domestic enemies" posed the "biggest threat" to American society at this point in time ahead of "economic forces" at 20 percent, "the natural world" at 17 percent and "foreign countries" at 8 percent. The category of "natural world" was a catch-all that included hazardous weather and other natural disasters, as well as lethal viruses, a nod to the coronavirus pandemic.
The most pessimistic respondents among those surveyed were those age 65 and older: About two-thirds (66 percent) saw their fellow Americans as the nation's greatest threat. There was not, however, much difference regardless of age group between Democrats (53 percent) and Republicans (56 percent) on the subject, nor a notable difference between men (53 percent) and women (55 percent).
The polling was conducted one week after the widespread alarm in the country over the rioting Jan. 6 at the Capitol. That insurrection left five people dead and temporarily halted the certification of Joe Biden as the victor of the November election over President Donald Trump.
In the aftermath of that insurrection, 51 percent of those surveyed said they expected political violence in the country to increase, and 71 percent said they believed democracy in the United States was "threatened" now, as opposed to 29 percent who thought it was "secure" or "very secure."
Despite all the pessimism, there were some signs of hope expressed. A total of 58 percent said they were optimistic about Biden's presidency, which is to begin Wednesday, and 74 percent said they considered him to be the legitimate winner of November's election.
A majority (51 percent) also said they expected the coronavirus situation to improve during Biden's presidency; as of Sunday morning, almost 400,000 Americans have died during the pandemic.
The CBS News survey of 2,166 adults in the U.S. was conducted by YouGov from Jan. 13 to Jan. 15. The margin of error was listed as approximately 2.5 percent; it was 2.8 percent on questions just addressed to registered voters.