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Live Mic: Political science professor says post-election violence unlikely

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 02: Pedestrians walk by the Macy's flagship store after workers cleaned and boarded up damage sustained during a night of violent protests and looting in Midtown, Manhattan on June 2, 2020 in New York City. The store is boarded up again on Nov. 2, 2020, in anticipation of possible Election Day or post-election violence. (Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Is the threat of widespread post-election violence after Tuesday’s presidential vote overblown, hyped up, fear-mongering or a real possibility to take seriously?

On Live Mic, Lee Lonsberry put that question to Richard Davis, a BYU political science professor. 

He said historically the United States has not seen much election-related violence.

“We tend to be more moderate and less passionate as a public,” Davis said. 

Post-election violence unlikely

He acknowledged that this year has seen its share of protests and riots resulting from the shootings of unarmed black men by police, but he added that the likelihood of violence related to the election would be small and isolated if it occurs.

“I think it probably is overblown. There isn’t going to be some sort of mass acts of violence as a result of this election,” Davis said. 

Although he has called mail-in voting fraudulent, President Donald Trump will accept the results of the election if he loses and encourage others to do so, Davis predicted.

“Have we ever seen anything that requires businesses to board up their windows following elections in this country?” Lee asked. 

“That has never been a feature of the United States, which we should all applaud. We have been able to conduct very peaceful elections. The Civil War was probably the most difficult in terms of this issue,” Davis replied. ” . . . We’ve been quite blessed in our avoidance of the very things that we see happen so often around the world and in other countries. I don’t think that is going to end in this election. But I do worry about the political polarization that is going on.”

Polarized nation

“Is that something that we have seen throughout history or are we facing unique polarization today?” Lee asked.

Davis said in the early 1800s there were vicious attacks happening between the two major parties and their candidates. He added that what political scientists are finding today is how much one side dislikes the other as opposed to how much they like their own party.

“That’s kind of a scary thought. Again, I don’t think it’s going to lead to violence. But it does mean we see the other side in a very negative way that probably will eventually lead to even more polarization and even more distaste for each other. It’s sort of a civil war but it’s not necessarily a violent civil war,” Davis said. 

He added that political polarization harms government operations when the two sides are unwilling to work with each other and compromise on the ideological issues that divide the country.

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Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.