Spiral of Silence Theory and the 2020 Election
The spiral of silence theory describes the phenomenon of people believing they are part of the minority regarding a political issue which makes them less likely to speak out about their opinions, in which this reluctance of speaking out likely stems from a fear of being socially isolated. At the University of Maryland, conservative students are afraid to state their support for Trump as one student notes “we didn’t know if our personal safety would be compromised or if it would affect our grades”, and others feel “…they must keep their stances quiet”. Being that this college is primarily liberal, it is likely that Trump supporters on campus perceived that they were in public opinion minority which led to “…a negative relationship between one’s perceived climate of opinion and willingness to speak out…” (Walter, Nathan. Tsfati, Yariv. The World of News and Politics, pg. 42). In response to others’ fears, some students came together to form the club “Terps for Trump” to create a safe environment to share their support for the candidate which would help in alleviating fears of social isolation. After the group was formed, students stated that they felt more comfortable with sharing their opinions and that they “were “…expecting more of a resistance from people…”, and in general the group made it easier for them to speak out publicly about their political affiliations. Such responses are becoming more frequent on social media platforms such as Facebook where individuals can create private groups that are intended to be safe spaces for like-minded individuals to share their opinions.