Only 28% of Americans have faith that democracy is working, according to a December Gallup poll. And earlier polls have had similar results. An August 2023 Morning Consult poll showed that 82% were worried about democracy. In other words, neither Democrats nor Republicans have a lot of faith in American democracy. Hey, a rare bipartisan agreement! However they completely disagree on what the problem is and what the solution is.
Among Democrats, 87% are worried about a rerun of Jan. 6, 2021, with 94% worried about Republican members of Congress helping out next time around. They are also worried about what a second Trump term would do to democracy, with 87% believing that he would weaken it. Trump's remark that he would be a dictator for only one day doesn't make them feel warm and fuzzy. Also, 82% of Democrats said that Trump is unfit to be president.
Experts on authoritarianism agree. Political science professor Susan Stokes of the University of Chicago, an expert on comparing democracies, said: "The former president's commitment to a kind of strongman style of politics, and a kind of rhetoric of politics of retribution—I think it's all very, very dangerous. We've seen this in other countries."
However, Republicans have a completely different take on democracy. Only 17% of them are satisfied (vs. 38% of Democrats). Given that two-thirds of them think that Trump won (because he says so), this result is hardly surprising. Also, only 14% of Republicans think Trump has any responsibility for the Jan. 6 coup attempt. On the other hand, 84% think the decisions in Maine and Colorado to keep Trump off the ballot are politically motivated. Trump's statements like "radical left thugs that live like vermin need to be rooted out" increased his support. His supporters want to hear things like that. Some of Trump's supporters are aware of the damage he could do to democracy, but they think the Democrats are worse (the lefties are vermin, after all). In fact, one of Trump's strategies is to paint Biden as an authoritarian, thus blunting Biden's remarks that Trump is an authoritarian. See, both sides do it. So Democrats are worried about Trump undermining democracy and Republicans are worried about vermin undermining it. (V)