A study released last week found 29 percent of participants would be open to splitting the United States into smaller regions following discussions of secession from several state lawmakers after a year marked by chaos and division.
Conducted by Bright Line Watch, participants were asked, “Some people say the divisions within our country have grown so deep that we would be better off dividing into more like-minded regions that would govern themselves separately. Do you support or oppose the idea of the United States dividing into more than one nation?”
Researchers found that secession is favored by individuals identifying as right-wing, with one in three Republican participants supporting their own state seceding from the union. Just 21 percent of Democrat-identifying respondents showed support for secession, but the proposition is more popular among those on the left in areas where Democrats are in power.
In an effort to avoid framing the idea of dissolution “as a way to mitigate conflict,” researchers presented another question that said, “Would you support or oppose [your state] seceding from the United States to join a new union with [list of states in the new union]?”
Researchers constructed five potential new unions, inserting relevant states for respondents. The proposed regions were:
- Pacific: California, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, and Alaska
- Mountain: Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico
- South: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee
- Heartland: Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas and Nebraska
- Northeast: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia
Republicans in the South showed the highest support for split regions, with 50 percent responding in favor of secession based on the question’s terms. The next highest came from Democrats in the proposed Pacific region with 41 percent.
Overall, the three coastal regions exhibited the most willingness to split into regions, with the South and West at 33 percent and the Northeast at 32 percent. The landlocked Heartland and Mountain regions had 24 and 28 percent of respondents support secession, respectively.
“The unwillingness of respondents to reject secession outright is widespread and context-dependent. Republicans express greater support for secession overall than Democrats, but Democrats are more amenable to secession than are Republicans in regions they dominate,” the study stated.
“Though most American reject the prospect of secession, these results at least suggest that a substantial minority of people do not instinctively reject the idea,” the study stated.
“Until recently, we would have regarded it as too marginal to include in a survey. But state legislators in Mississippi and Texas and state GOP leaders in Texas and Wyoming have openly advocated secession in recent months, prompting us to design two survey items to gauge perceptions of this idea,” the researchers said.