A new poll suggests Americans are growing increasingly pessimistic about the state of democracy, with a majority believing that an election will be overturned in the next few years because elected officials are dissatisfied with the result.
OAKLAND, CA – SEPTEMBER14: Riley Mitchell, an Oakland resident, cast his ballot in the recall … [+] election in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, September 14, 2021. The 2021 California gubernatorial recall election is a special election on whether or not to recall Gavin Newsom from office. (Nina Riggio/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)
San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
In a CNN/SRSS poll of 2,119 U.S. adults released Wednesday, 51% of respondents said it is somewhat or very likely that some elected officials will “successfully overturn the results of an election” in the U.S. in the future “because their party did not win.”
That belief was held by 49% of Democratic respondents and 57% of Republicans, as Democrats have fretted about new laws in GOP-controlled states that increase partisan officials’ power over election administrators and restrict ballot access.
The poll also found 56% of respondents believe democracy is “under attack,” including 46% of Democrats and 75% of Republicans, while 31% of Democrats surveyed and 76% of Republicans were not confident American elections “reflect the will of the people.”
Republican skepticism appears to be drawn from former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen: 78% of Republicans agreed that President Joe Biden “did not legitimately win enough votes to win,” while 63% overall said he did.
It is Democrats and independents, however, who are driving the increasing lack of faith in elections – Democrats’ confidence that elections reflect the will of the people dropped from 90% to 69% since January, with independents dropping from 54% to 46%.
The CNN survey is just the latest this year to show a wide swath of Americans lack confidence in elected officials on this issue: A Quinnipiac poll in May found 59% of voters believe the GOP is not acting “in the best interest of democracy,” with 49% saying the same of Democrats.
58%. That’s the share of respondents in the CNN poll who said GOP state election reforms are being put in place “mainly to benefit the party in power,” with 53% saying the same of Democrats.
Senate Democrats on Tuesday unveiled an election reform bill that would expand things like mail-in and early voting and crack down on election subversion and money in politics – their effort to counteract GOP state voting restrictions. However, though the bill has the backing of moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), it lacks support from Senate Republicans and is unlikely to overcome the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold.
Recent moves by Trump and his allies are likely to only worsen Republican voters’ faith in elections. Trump and California recall candidate Larry Elder, a right-wing radio host, repeatedly and baselessly claimed in the run-up to the vote that it would be stolen through widespread fraud. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, handily beat back the recall effort on Tuesday.