Americans are largely pessimistic about democracy in the US, AP-NORC poll finds

WASHINGTON (AP) — According to a new survey from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Business Research.

Majority of adults say US laws and policies fail to represent what most Americans want on issues ranging from the economy and government spending to gun policy, immigration and immigration. ‘abortion. The poll shows 53% say Congress is doing a poor job of upholding Democratic values, compared to just 16% who say it is doing a good job.

The results illustrate widespread political alienation as a polarized country emerges from the pandemic and enters a recovery haunted by inflation and recession fears. In interviews, interviewees worried less about the workings of democracy — the passing of laws and the tabulation of ballots — than about the results.

Overall, about half of the country – 49% – say democracy is not working well in the United States, compared to 10% who say it works very or extremely well and 40% only somewhat well. About half also say each of the political parties is doing a poor job of defending democracy, including 47% who say that of Democrats and even more – 56% – of Republicans.

“I don’t think any of them are doing a good job just because of the state of the economy – inflation is killing us,” said 45-year-old workers’ compensation expert Michael Brown. father of two in Bristol, Connecticut. . “Right now, I’m winning as much as ever and fighting as much as ever.”

A self-proclaimed moderate Republican, Brown has watched America fall short of its Democratic promise since learning in high school that the Electoral College allows someone to become president without winning a majority of national votes. But he is particularly disappointed in Congress now, seeing his obsessions as not reflecting the will of the people.

“They’re fighting for something, and it has nothing to do with the economy,” Brown said, pointing to the GOP-controlled House investigation into President Joe Biden’s son.

“Hunter Biden – what does this have to do with us?” He asked.

The poll shows that 53% of Americans say views on “people like you” are not well represented by government, with 35% saying they are fairly well represented and 12% very or extremely well. About 6 in 10 Republicans and independents feel the government does not represent people like them well, compared to about 4 in 10 Democrats.

Karalyn Kiessling, a researcher at the University of Michigan who participated in the survey, sees worrying signs all around her. A Democrat, she recently moved to a conservative area outside the liberal center on the Ann Arbor campus and feared that conspiracy theorists who believe former President Donald Trump’s lies that he won the 2020 election present themselves as poll watchers. Members of his Republican family no longer identify with the party and limit their political involvement.

Kiessling studies the intersection of public health and politics and sees many other ways to participate in a democracy besides voting – from being active in a political party to speaking at a local government meeting. But she fears increased partisan nastiness could deter people from these crucial outlets.

“I think people are less willing to get involved because it’s become more controversial,” said Kiessling, 29.

It leads to national alienation, she said — something she certainly feels when she sees what’s coming out of Washington. “When you have a base that represents a minority of what Americans think in general, but they’re the loudest voices in the room, that’s what politicians listen to,” Kiessling said.

Polarization has turned some states into one-party dominions, further alienating people like Mark Short, a Republican who lives in Dana Point, California.

“In California, I feel like I cast my vote every time, and that’s exactly what you get,” said Short, 63, a retired businessman.

The poll shows that the vast majority of Americans – 71% – think what most Americans want should be very important when laws and policies are made, but only 48% think that’s actually true in practice.

And opinions are even more negative when it comes to specific issues: about two-thirds of adults say that immigration policies, public spending, abortion policy and gun policy are not representative of the views of most Americans, and almost as many say the same about the economy as well as gender identity and LGBTQ+ issues. More than half also say the policies poorly reflect what Americans want when it comes to health care and the environment.

Joseph Derito, an 81-year-old retired baker in Elmyra, New York, says immigration policy doesn’t represent the views of most Americans. “Government today is everything for people who have nothing — a lot of them are able to work but get help,” said Derito, a white political independent who leans Republican and voted for Trump. “They just want to give these people everything.”

Sandra Wyatt, a 68-year-old retired data collection worker and Democrat from Cincinnati, blames Trump for what she sees as an erosion of democracy. “When he walked in there, it was like, man, you’re trying to take us back to the day, before all the rights and privileges that everybody fought for,” Wyatt, who is black, said. adding that she had already voted for the Republicans. Also.

She sees these bad dynamics persisting after the Trump presidency. “We always knew there was racism, but now they’re emboldened enough to go around and shoot people because of the color of their skin,” Wyatt said.

Stanley Hobbs, a retired autoworker in Detroit and a Democrat, blames “a few Republicans” for what he sees as the erosion of democracy in the United States. how laws no longer represent the views of the majority of Americans.

He tries to stay optimistic.

“It seems like it always happens in the United States and we always win,” Hobbs said, recalling how American politicians sympathetic to Nazi Germany rose to prominence before World War II. “I just hope we win this time.”


Riccardi reported from Denver.


The poll of 1,220 adults was conducted June 22-26 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

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