Most Americans are feeling pessimistic about the state of democracy in their country, according to a new poll conducted by the Associated Press.
Only 16% of Americans surveyed said that democracy is working well or extremely well in the United States, a sentiment shared by individuals of all political persuasions. Almost half of Americans, 45%, think that democracy isn't functioning properly. A little more than a third, 38%, say democracy is working only somewhat well.
According to the Associated Press, the poll's findings are "broadly consistent with how Americans graded democracy before the election," however there was a noticeable partisan swing in views about democracy since the 2020 election.
Last October, 68% of self-identified Republicans said democracy was working at least somewhat well. After the election, though, only 36% of Republicans felt that way. Conversely, in October, just 37% of Democrats believed democracy was working at least somewhat well, but after Joe Biden won the election, that number increased to 70%.
In other words, when Donald Trump was president, most Republicans believed democracy was at least partially working, while most Democrats disagreed, and after Joe Biden won, most Republicans thought democracy wasn't working, but Democrats were more optimistic.
Roughly two-thirds of Americans say Joe Biden is the legitimately elected president, but only one-third of Republicans believe the election was legitimate, according to the survey.
The Associated Press report blames former President Donald Trump's claims that the 2020 election was stolen for at least in part eroding Republicans trust in the election:
The core elements of democratic government, including free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power, were put to a dire test by the baseless claims of election fraud advanced by former President Donald Trump. Those assertions of fraud were a root cause of the deadly violence at the U.S. Capitol last month, which damaged the country's reputation as a model for democracy.
Trump will face an unprecedented second impeachment trial in the Senate this week for his role in sparking the violence. About half of Americans say the Senate should convict the Republican former president.
The poll's findings are broadly consistent with how Americans graded democracy before the election. But there are signs that Trump's attacks on the democratic process, including his repeated and discredited argument that the election was "stolen" because of voter irregularities, resonated with Republicans.
But Democrats and the mainstream media are not without blame either.
In the wake of the 2016 election and Trump's surprise win, many Democrats advanced claims that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to defeat Hillary Clinton. The mainstream media in 2017 spread a misleading story that "Russian government cyber actors" attempted to hack the 2016 election results. A poll conducted in 2018 found that 67% of Democrats believed that "Russia tampered with vote tallies in order to get Donald Trump elected." Further, the 2018 Georgia Democratic candidate for governor, Stacey Abrams, never conceded the election to her Republican opponent Brian Kemp, the legitimately elected governor, whom Abrams accused of engaging in voter suppression tactics to win.
Both political parties have criticized the electoral system in America when it was politically convenient to do so. Perhaps that's why so many Americans have doubts about their democracy.