2020 Presidential Election A Source Of Significant Stress For More Americans Than 2016 Presidential Race

American Psychological Association
Oct 07, 2020

Ahead of the most divisive election in decades, more than two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) say that the 2020 U.S. presidential election is a
significant source of stress in their life, a large increase from the 2016 presidential election when 52% said the same, according to a new survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association. The survey also found that regardless of political affiliation, majorities say that the election is a significant source of stress (76% of Democrats, 67% of Republicans and 64% of Independents).

Even though the majority of Americans say the election is a source of stress, the survey found that for some groups, stress about the election is significantly higher compared with 2016. The proportion of Black adults reporting the election as a source of stress jumped from 46% in 2016
More than two-thirds of American say that the 2020 presidential election is causing them stress – a significant increase compared with 2016.

The survey found that adults with a chronic condition are consistently more likely than those who do not have a chronic condition to report the election as a source of stress in their life (55% vs. 45% in 2016 and 71% vs. 64% in 2020). However, in 2020, people with a chronic condition are significantly more likely to say the election is a very significant source of stress for them (39% vs. 28%). In 2016 this response yielded no significant difference (20% vs. 17%).

In 2020, more than three-quarters of Americans (77%) say the future of our nation is a significant source of stress, up from 66% in 2019. Likewise, the current political climate is reported as a significant source of stress by more than two-thirds of Americans (68%), compared with 62% who said the same in 2019.

Uncertainty is frequently stressful, and some people are better at dealing with uncertainty than others. The election, the global pandemic and social unrest are all adding to a sense of uncertainty in our lives. Avoid dwelling on things you can’t control. When uncertainty strikes, many people immediately imagine worst-case scenarios.


*Break the habit of ruminating on bad outcomes.

*Focus on what you can control. If following the news, watching the debates or scrolling through social media is causing you stress, limit your media consumption.

*Give yourself permission to take a break from the news.

*Engage in meaningful activities. Rather than fixating on news coverage, find an activity that you really enjoy and spend time doing it.

*Get involved in issues that are meaningful to you.

*Go for a walk or spend time with friends and family. Research
shows that people who have at least one or two friends or family members to turn to for emotional support during stressful times tend to cope better than people who don’t have such support.

*Stay active. Moving helps us release the energy we experience when we feel stressed.

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