Democracy worldwide is on the defensive. Attacks are reported daily on independent judiciary, on a free press and on access to political space by opposition political groups. Even American democracy, which is old and its political institution mature, appears to be vulnerable to the anti-democratic trends sweeping Western European nations.
In a panel at the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR) conference in Lisbon, Portugal, researchers from around the world will present on the Health of Politics. Floyd Ciruli, director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research in the Korbel School at the University of Denver will present a paper titled: Democracy in the U.S.: Robust or Brittle?
This presentation will review the literature on democratic stability and more recent 2016 election description of vulnerabilities and flaws. These attributes will be tested in U.S. and state-level surveys to highlight possible fractures in public opinion that support or oppose the theory that U.S. democracy is becoming brittle and unstable. Trust in government, party polarization and the desire for change are factors that will be examined.
The willingness of partisans of both parties to ignore their evaluations of the fitness of office of the candidates and vote for them anyway is one variable that will be measured against trust, desire for change and partisanship. A second factor to test with the variables is the statement that the other candidate’s victory will be illegitimate.
Key question: Is the 2016 election and its result the culmination of a long period of dissatisfaction and support for the regime and its democratic process, which will rebound, or is this the beginning of a more profound weakening in democratic culture?