Burning passions over Donald Trump’s presidency are taking a personal toll on both sides of the political divide.
For Gayle McCormick, it is particularly wrenching: she has separated from her husband of 22 years.
The retired California prison guard, a self-described “Democrat leaning toward socialist,” was stunned when her husband casually mentioned during a lunch with friends last year that he planned to vote for Trump – a revelation she described as a “deal breaker.”
“It totally undid me that he could vote for Trump,” said McCormick, 73, who had not thought of leaving the conservative Republican before but felt “betrayed” by his support for Trump.
“It opened up areas between us I had not faced before. I realised how far I had gone in my life to accept things I would have never accepted when I was younger.”
Three months after the most divisive election in modern U.S. politics fractured families and upended relationships, a number of Americans say the emotional wounds are as raw as ever and show few signs of healing.
The rancour has not dissipated as it has in the aftermath of other recent contentious U.S. elections.
A Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll shows it has worsened, suggesting a widening of the gulf between Republicans and Democrats and a hardening of ideological positions that sociologists and political scientists say increases distrust in government and will make political compromise more difficult.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll of 6,426 people, taken from Dec 27 to Jan 18, shows the number of respondents who argued with family and friends over politics jumped 6 percentage points from a pre-election poll at the height of the campaign in October, up to 39 percent from 33 percent.
Sixteen percent said they have stopped talking to a family member or friend because of the election – up marginally from 15 percent. That edged higher, to 22 percent, among those who voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Overall, 13 percent of respondents said they had ended a relationship with a family member or close friend over the election, compared to 12 percent in October.
“It’s been pretty rough for me,” said Rob Brunello, 25, of Mayfield Heights, Ohio, a truck driver who faced a backlash from friends and family for backing Trump.
“People couldn’t believe Trump could beat Hillary. They are having a hard time adjusting to it,” he said.