Poll: Majority Of Americans Believe Democracy Under Threat

July 2, 2021

In a sense of relief, I’m not the only one scared shitless and paranoid about America’s democratic future:

Details via PBS this morning:

Two-thirds of Americans (67-percent) believe democracy in the United States is under threat, according to the latest PBS Newshour/NPR/Marist poll.

Ahead of the first Fourth of July since an attack on the Capitol, fueled by baseless claims of voter fraud, and as several GOP-led states work now to enact stricter voting rules, majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents express worry about the health of democracy.

At the same time, more people also believe the country is heading in the right direction than at any other time in the last 12 years, according to the poll, though that number — 47-percent — is still a minority.

Views on the direction of the country reflect a sharp partisan split, with far greater optimism coming from Democrats: 87 percent of Democrats believe it’s going in the right direction, but 87-percent of Republicans say the opposite.
Overall, 47-percent of adults surveyed saw positive movement — a level not seen since October 2009 — compared to 49-percent who said they did not.
That number is also up 20 points from January.

Voting suppression laws also took a place in the poll, though, most respondents wanted some type ballot-box control:

In this latest poll, a majority of respondents — 56-percent — said they were more concerned with making sure that everyone who wants to vote can do so, versus 41-percent who were more concerned with making sure no one votes who is not eligible to do so.
A higher share of Democrats (85-percent) expressed concerns about making voting accessible, as well as people aged 18 to 39 (70-percent) and people of color (64-percent).

But 79-percent of Americans also said they thought voters should be required to present government-issued photo identification. Some voting rights advocates argue that can impede access to the polls, particularly for low-income voters and those of color, as well as the elderly and people with disabilities.

Insidious threats on the threat:

A quick note via The New Yorker story:

A recent survey commissioned by the Brennan Center for Justice found that one in three election officials now feel unsafe doing their jobs, citing, among other things, threats to their lives. More than half said that misinformation circulating on social media made their job more dangerous.

“The year 2020 provided Americans with an extraordinary civics lesson on the importance of election officials to our democracy,” the center noted in a subsequent report,
“Election Officials Under Attack,” which was co-authored with the Bipartisan Policy Center.
“It is no accident that in 2021, as American democracy finds itself under assault, these officials are a prime target.”

Keep in mind, the vast majority — if not all — of these threats are/were made by right-wing nutjobs and full-blown MAGA hatters, supported by the offical Republican Party. An example is an e-mail to election workers in Paulding County, Georgia: ‘“This sh_t is rigged,” the email said. “Until Trump is guaranteed to be POTUS until 2024 like he should be, we will bring death and destruction to defend this country if needed and get our voices heard.”

Meanwhile, back to the PBS poll — Joe Biden still carries a majority-approval nod. This from NPR, also this morning:

President Biden gets a 50-percent job approval rating, largely unchanged from last month.
There is a sharp partisan divide with 9 in 10 Democrats approving, and more than 8 in 10 Republicans disapproving.

Biden continues to get his highest ratings when it comes to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and his economic approval is holding steady.
But Americans have less confidence in his handling of foreign policy, especially immigration. His approval on immigration ticked up slightly from March when it was last measured in the poll.

And as an afterthought (or maybe a before-thought), a worldwide poll of 50,000 respondents in 53 countries last spring put America as a threat to democracy, even worse that China or Russia — from the Guardian in early May:

In perhaps the most startling finding, nearly half (44-percent) of respondents in the 53 countries surveyed are concerned that the US threatens democracy in their country; fear of Chinese influence is by contrast 38-percent, and fear of Russian influence is lowest at 28-percent.
The findings may in part reflect views on US comparative power, but they show neither the US, nor the G7, can simply assume the mantle of defenders of democracy.

Since last year, the perception of US influence as a threat to democracy around the world has increased significantly, from a net opinion of +6 to a net opinion of +14.
This increase is particularly high in Germany (+20) and China (+16).

We’re in a most-ugly, proverbial pickle.

And just to turn your attention elsewhere:

If not one thing, then another…

(Illustration out front: New Yorker cartoon by Bruce Eric Kaplan, found here).

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