Few Americans expect fights over politics at Thanksgiving

Linley SandersData Journalist
November 17, 2020, 7:30 PM UTC

Despite a season rife with conflict — including President Donald Trump refusal to acknowledge losing the presidential race to Joe Biden, and the politicized perception of the COVID-19 pandemic — Americans are not particularly worried about Thanksgiving dinner arguments. 

A YouGov poll finds that four in five registered voters (81%) intend to mark the holiday in some capacity. However, as in other years, celebrators are not worried about politics emerging as a topic of discussion.  

Three-quarters of registered voters (75%) believe their family is not likely to have any type of argument this holiday season. But, among the 17% who expect a fight of some type, the most likely catalysts would be politics (49%), the coronavirus pandemic (43%), long-standing family tension (26%), or conspiracies (24%). 

That is not to say that fights are likely in the event that politics does come up. Among those who expect politics will be discussed during their gathering, most are either not very anxious (18%) or not anxious at all (67%) about talk turning to political affairs. 

But it’s not simply a matter of expectation: those who do not expect to discuss political matters are equally at ease (68%) about the prospect of it coming up. Republicans (72%) are slightly more likely than Democrats (64%) and Independents (61%) to say this does not cause them any anxiety.  

The ease is perhaps because most registered voters will be spending Thanksgiving among like-minded individuals. About two-thirds of registered Republicans who intend to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with others (64%) say they will primarily be surrounded by supporters of President Trump. One in five Republicans (20%) say there will be a mix of Biden supporters and Trump supporters in attendance. 

About two-thirds of Democrats (65%) will spend their holiday among those who support President-Elect Biden, and just 12% say there will be a mix of supporters at their meal. Republicans who intend to celebrate Thanksgiving (29%) are twice as likely as Independents (19%) and three times as likely as Democrats (10%) to say they will spend the holiday with extended family, perhaps allowing GOPers a wider political circle. 

When confronted with the scenario of a political disagreement during the holidays, Republicans (67%) are more likely than Democrats (61%) and Independents (56%) to be comfortable verbalizing their opposing viewpoints to a family member who expresses a political view they do not share.  

See the toplines and crosstabs from this YouGov Poll 

Methodology: This YouGov Direct Poll was fielded November 11, 2020, between 1:30 p.m. and 7:48 p.m. Data were weighted according to age, gender, race, education, and 2016 presidential vote. 

Image: Getty