Nov 5, 2018

1. Exclusive poll: Only half of Americans have faith in democracy

Data: SurveyMonkey online poll. Poll methodology; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios 

Just 51% of Americans said they have faith in democracy, and 37% say they have lost faith in democracy, according to a new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll conducted in late October.

Why it matters: It suggests that recent political turmoil has caused people to doubt the very foundation of American society, particularly leading up to election day.

Since October 2016, just before the last presidential election, SurveyMonkey has tracked Americans' views toward democracy.

What's happening: Despite the political turbulence over the past two years, Americans' faith in democracy has been relatively stable — with two exceptions.

  • Just before heading to the polls in 2016, 52% of voters had faith in democracy.
  • That number grew from pre-election numbers (by 8 percentage points) immediately following the election in November 2016 and in February 2017, after President Trump's inauguration.
  • One year ago, in October 2017, faith in democracy dropped by 7 percentage points and has held fairly steady since then.
  • The other half of Americans have either lost faith in democracy or never had faith in it to begin with, according to the poll.

The big picture: SurveyMonkey also found that half the country believes America is more divided today than ever before — and that these divisions will probably continue far into the future (ranging between 46% and 51% over the past two years).

  • About one-third of Americans agree America is more divided today, but are optimistic that Americans will come together in the near future.
  • 18% say America is not more divided today than it has been in the past.

Methodology: This survey was conducted Oct. 19-24 among 3,913 adults. Respondents were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. Data have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age 18 and over.

The modeled error estimate for the full sample of that survey is plus or minus 2 percentage points and full crosstabs are available here.

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