Bright Line Watch, a multi-university consortium housed at the University of Chicago’s Chicago Center on Democracy has released two new reports on the state of U.S. democracy.

Since February, 2017, Bright Line Watch has conducted surveys – both of political science experts and of the general public – to probe perceptions of the performance of U.S. democracy. Our first report draws from our surveys, conducted in October, 2018. The survey finds that perceptions are largely stable compared to the previous wave of our survey, in July 2018. But experts still perceive a significant deterioration in the quality of U.S. democracy compared to before President Trump took office. Experts also rate U.S. performance on tolerating protest and not allowing political violence as significantly worse than in July.

The second report draws on another Bright Line Watch survey, which measures the American public’s commitment to democratic principles and its willingness to sacrifice these principles in order to elect politicians who share their partisan identities or agree with their policy stances. We ran a series of experiments pitting hypothetical candidates against each other. Encouragingly, we find that most survey respondents punish candidates who violate democratic principles related to political control over investigations, judicial independence, and – perhaps surprisingly – cross-party compromise. This was true of people in our samples whether they identified as Democrats, Republicans, or independents. However, we find a massive partisan split over voter ID laws.

 

 

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