An alarming number of Americans now believe that our democracy is under attack, but oddly, most don’t see that as the biggest problem currently facing the country, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll of voters.
According to the poll, nearly three-quarters of voters (71 percent) believe that our democracy is at risk. Astonishingly, however, only seven percent view this threat as the most important problem currently facing the country.
Puzzling as it sounds that voters could be so cavalier about the possibility of our form of government disappearing, it makes slightly more sense when their greater concerns are taken into account, concerns they perceive to be the cause of the currently tenuous state of our democracy: the opposing party. Most respondents in the Times poll who identified as Republican said the greatest threats facing our democracy are President Biden, the mainstream media, the federal government and the practice of voting by mail. Most respondents identifying as Democrat, on the other hand, cited Donald Trump, the Supreme Court and the Electoral College as democracy’s greatest threat.
It also appears that another contributing factor to these views is a growing cynicism and lack of trust in the U.S. government, which includes ongoing doubts surrounding the veracity of our elections. More than a third (39 percent) of those polled said they’d be comfortable voting for a candidate who said they believe the 2020 election was stolen. Among Republicans, that number stood at nearly three-quarters (71 percent), but more than a third (37 percent) of independent voters agreed, as did 12 percent of Democrats. Even 19 percent of those who believe Biden won the election fairly admitted they were comfortable voting for a candidate who claimed the election was rigged (this included 43 percent of Republicans, 22 percent of independents and 10 percent of Democrats).
An additional 28 percent of all voters—including 41 percent of Republicans—said they had little to no faith in the accuracy of the forthcoming midterm election results. More than a quarter (26 percent) of independents and 13 percent of Democrats agreed.
About a third of respondents (34 percent) said they don’t think someone’s political views revealed much regarding whether someone is a good person, compared to 14 percent who said it does. Nearly 20 percent admitted that political disagreements had been the cause of hurt relationships with friends or family.
The Times/Siena College poll surveyed approx. Eight hundred registered voters via telephone in October.