Following the January 6 attack on the Capitol, academics and journalists have increasingly taken seriously the possibility of future political violence in America. And polls suggest Americans are concerned. In a recent UMass poll, 62 percent of respondents said they were at least somewhat concerned about the violence in the 2024 presidential election.

In her new book “How Civil Wars Start And How To Stop Them”, political scientist Barbara F. Walter goes one step further. After spending her career studying civil wars overseas, she writes, “We’re closer to civil war now than any of us would like to believe.” It’s a bold suggestion, and on this episode of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast we interview it . Sure, America is polarized, but is it headed for war?

You can listen to the episode by clicking the Play button at the top of the audio player, or downloading it from iTunes, the ESPN app, or your favorite podcast platform. If you’re new to podcasting, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded on Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Do you have a comment, question, or suggestion about “good polls vs. bad polls”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter, or in the comments.


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