One month after the U.S. presidential election, the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations surveyed journalists, communication professionals and the general public on how the outcome — Joe Biden as our 46th President — will impact polarization, activism and media during the next four years. Here are the key findings of that survey.
• 84% of the general public believe the polarization of opinion on social issues will stay the same or increase during the Biden Administration.
• 79% of the general public predict that cooperation among members of Congress will decrease or stay the same.
• Fewer than half (48%) of the general public believe the election will lead to national unity, while 23% believe it will result in more civil unrest, as witnessed in the recent Capitol riot.
• Communication professionals predict that consumers, employees and activists will expect more action on from U.S. corporations on polarizing societal issues, like climate change, racial equality and police reform.
• In response to increases in activism, 55% of PR professionals predict companies will develop more purpose-driven communication campaigns, and 49% expect greater communication of their company’s values.
• Within the communication industry, 60% expect their companies will conduct more diversity and inclusion training; 60% expect the hiring of more diverse staff.
• 38% of journalists expect the amount of news coverage dedicated to politics to decrease, and 35% expect consumer consumption of traditional news to decline during President Biden’s term.
• However, 37% of journalists predict an increase in the spread of fake news or disinformation, while 46% predict the proliferation of conspiracy theories will grow.
• 43% of journalists think the use of social media for political purposes will increase, which may be why 42% expect an increase in the regulation of social media platforms in the next 4 years.
• In spite of their profound differences, 63% percent of Americans surveyed say they have a positive outlook on the next four years. Women are more energized about the future than men, and older Americans are more relieved than younger ones.
• Thirty-seven percent of liberals said their desire to move to another country has decreased, while 21% of conservatives are thinking more about packing their bags.
The survey results are available for review at annenberg.usc.edu/news/research-and-impact/cpr-surveys-explore-political-polarization-and-corporate-responses-social.
The data reviewed by the USC Center for PR was collected through two online surveys fielded for its Global Communication Report, due this spring. The first survey encompasses 940 responses from communication professionals and 519 responses from journalists, was distributed through email lists, social media channels and by Muck Rack, and was live between November 30, 2020, and January 6, 2021. The second survey of 833 U.S. residents was conducted for USC Annenberg by Qualtrics from December 1-4, 2020. All responses reflect opinions based on Joe Biden taking office on January 20.
About the USC Center for Public Relations
Based at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the USC Center for Public Relations (CPR) connects corporations, agencies, academics and students to define the future of our industry and to develop those who will shape it. Signature initiatives include the Global Communication Report, USC Annenberg’s Kenneth Owler Smith Symposium, and the Relevance Report. The Center’s podcast series, #PRFuture, features interviews with professionals and advocates who are changing how the industry communicates. Follow CPR at @Center4PR and #PRFuture.
About the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
The Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California is an international leader in education and scholarship in the fields of communication, journalism, public diplomacy and public relations. With an enrollment of more than 2,200 students, USC Annenberg offers graduate and undergraduate degree programs that prepare the most promising minds to inquire, innovate and lead at the global crossroads of media, technology and culture.