Americans Are Really Afraid of a Looming World War

Here’s another interesting GSS chart for you. I still haven’t extracted the data I went there for, but I’ll get to it eventually. In the meantime, check this out:

There are several surprising things here:

  • First, that the numbers in general are so high. Half the population expects us to be in a world war sometime in the next decade? Wow.
  • Second, that the number spiked after 9/11 and stayed high. More people today expect a world war than they did during the actual Cold War.
  • Third, that responses have stayed so consistent even though we haven’t been in a world war. You’d think that after years and years of this prediction not coming true, people would start to figure that a world war was unlikely. But no.

I don’t know what to make of this. Either Americans are way more pessimistic than I thought, or else they have a very different idea of what a “world war” is than I do.

POSTSCRIPT: It’s worth noting that this fear of a world war changes a little bit if you break things out by demographic group, but not by much. Men and women, blacks and whites, Democrats and Republicans, young and old—they all have roughly the same fear that we’ll be in a world war sometime soon.


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