2020 U.S. Election Stress
To understand how the U.S 2020 election impacts the mental health of Americans, illustrate this phenomenon with reference to recent statistics. Further, investigate how the election process (such as mail-in ballots), campaign advertising, can contribute to public anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Also, report the dual impact of the pandemic and the elections, on mental health.
- More than half of American adults (56%) believe that the 2020 presidential election is a significant stressor, which is an increase of 4% from the 2016 election cycle.
- Democrats (in particular) have recognized that the presidency is the greatest source of stress for Americans, hence chanting a slogan, "Make America relaxed again."
- Most Americans (63%) support the movement against systemic racism and police brutality, and nearly 21% of individuals vote or plan to vote based on the candidate's position on racial injustice.
- Gartner's Research Survey (released in February 2020) revealed the following findings related to the U.S election year and its impact on daily lives.
- The survey indicated that nearly 78% of people talk about politics at work.
- Around, 47% of people believe that the 2020 presidential election year has impacted their ability to get work done.
- Nearly 31% of individuals who talk politics at work believe that the conversations are “stressful and/or frustrating.”
- Around, 36% of employees believe that they avoid talking to, or working with a co-worker because of their political views.
- According to a Glassdoor poll of 1200 employed adults, around 57% of workers discussed politics on the job, despite the fact that nearly 60% felt that discussing politics at the workplace is unacceptable.
- A survey from the Society for Human Resource Management, reveals that nearly 44% have witnessed political disagreements at work.
- 1 in 10 working Americans
believe that they have experienced differential
treatment because of political views (Political Affiliation Bias).
Indirect impact on mental health:
- The mental health of Americans has affected both (i) directly to people who are victims of bias, discrimination, harassment, and (ii) indirectly to masses who witness prevailing injustice which spurs negative emotions such as fear, stress, and depression.
- With the approaching of the 2020 elections, the number of hate crimes increases. In 2019, nearly 421 hate crimes were reported in the New York Metropolitan area, of which more than half were directed towards Jews. [https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0022167820911757]
- A recent study (2020) indicated that the aftermath of the 2016 elections, resulted in symptoms of depression, higher fear, stress, and anxiety levels, amongst the LGBTQ community, due to increasing experiences of discrimination, and harassment based on sexual orientation.
- During the election campaigns, the presidential candidates instilling fear amongst voters increased the likelihood to be persuaded.
- According to clinicians, 'the election year is very stressful given that their patients use their therapy time to talk about their political concerns, which sometimes mirror with that of the clinician's beliefs. There is a little room left for the therapist left alone in an echo chamber of worries.'
Concerns over mail-in ballots
- Fear and anxiety have been commonly associated with election stress, and have been used synonymously. Fear is a response to a current threat, while anxiety is the worry (or tension) related to possible future events. Both emotions are, however, strong negative responses to the perception of danger.
- Depression related to an election is also common. Chronic stress negatively influences mental health, which contributes to unwanted levels of anxiety, sparking symptoms of sadness, and pessimism.
- A Gartner study indicated that 47% of workers feel distracted from doing their jobs because of the 2020 elections. Of which, 33% believed that they spend more time catching-up with political news at work.
- Another study published in 2018, indicated an alarmingly high level of 2016 election-related distress was prevalent amongst college students, which could be predictive of subsequent PTSD diagnosis.
- In another study, published in a reputed scientific journal, Circulation (in 2020), analyzed hospitalization data (of Southern California.), pre- and post- 2016 presidential elections. The findings indicated that acute stress from the 2016 elections, led to 1.41 times higher risk of hospitalization with Acute Myocardial Infarction. These findings merit the claim by Barbara Bush, who blamed Trump for her heart attack.
- Stress and Depression were reported more amongst women and non-white individuals post-2016 elections.
- Due to chronic stress, a 3% increase rate of pre-term births was recorded amongst Latina women, in the following 9 months post-2016 elections. Both stress, and hesitation to seek prenatal care spiked the pre-term birth rates.
- The concept of fear is indirectly tied with the office of the Presidency, as quoted by Wills, that "bomb power is inseparable from the presidency,
we see how tweets like this exacerbated the level of terror and uncertainty
among those who don’t support the president and increased the attraction for
those who do."
- According to a statement by Dr. Ann Burnetter from Texas State University, "I'm not surprised that people try to process their reactions to this political season at their workplace. In addition to the inherent drama of an election where opponents want to defeat a divisive incumbent, there are other factors that could be making voters anxious: the reports by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election (and is likely already interfering in the 2020 election) have created serious concern; the issue of climate change is a grim problem that is distressing for many, and the outbreak of coronavirus has caused extreme worry as people wonder how individuals and the U.S. government should respond."
1. Limiting new exposure
2. Limiting new sources
3. Limit substance abuse
1. Exercise the right to vote
2. Finding ways to contribute to positivity
3. Search for hope
4. Focus on physical health
5. Seek professional help
Recommended reading on how to cope with election stress, can be viewed online here.
Most of the scientific research regarding stress and election have extrapolated data from the 2016 U.S. elections or post-2016 era. Though we attempted to cite recent publications from 2020, most of the data is representative of population statistics post-2016 elections. Relevant statistics have been highlighted in this document. Our preliminary research was aimed to understand the impact of elections on the mental health and well-being of Americans, impact on individuals in the office environment, and how changing political dynamics (pre-elections) influence fear tactics, spur anxiety, rise to hate speech, and increasing offenses towards minority communities. We used the PubMed database to identify scientific literature using the keywords: "stress," "elections," "insomnia," "depression," and "election stress." Mostly, the scientific publications of the year 2020 used the data between 2016-2019. It is believed that due to the pandemic, surveys/interviews, and research-related activities have been halted/delayed, which did not allow fresh statistics from 2020 to emerge into scientific publications. Moreover, to investigate the effect on mental or physical health, pre- and post-data is usually required, which is the reason most of the studies have already begun, amongst which one such study proposal can be seen here.
Kindly note that this document is meant to serve as a research strategy, accompanied by one hour of preliminary research presented as 'early findings'. This document merely serves as a groundwork for Wonder Researchers to better understand the topic and conduct in-depth research if the research strategy is approved.
Proposed next steps:
You need to be the project owner to select a next step.