Despite all the rage and division in the US there is one thing all Americans, whether Republican, Democrat or Independent, agree on – the future of democracy is at stake in the 2024 Presidential election.
A recent survey by the Public Religion Research Institute in Washington found that 75% of all Americans believed the future of democracy was at stake in the election with 77% of Republicans concerned, 73% of Independent and 84% of Democrats.
What is more concerning is that 23% of Americans think political violence might be necessary “because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence to save our country.”
For Republicans 33% believe violence might be necessary, Independents 22% and Democrats 13%. This finding represents increases in all groups since 2021 with the Democrat sample almost doubling. Interestingly, non-Christian religious belief in the necessity of violence more than doubled while all other religious categories increased much less.
When support for violence was measured against belief that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump; a favourable view of Trump; and, beliefs immigrants were invading the country and replacing national cultural and ethnic background all correlated with greater than 40% support for the contention that true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save the country.
The survey also measured whether people thought a resort to violence might be necessary because the 1950s American culture and way of life has mostly changed for the worse and America’s best days are now behind us. 55% of all Americans were sure things had changed for the worse and 52% thought the country’s best days were behind them.
73% of Republicans think things have changed for the worse and 67% of them think the best days are behind us. For Independents it was 57% and 55% respectively. Democrats were much more optimistic and only 34% yearned for the past.
Other justifications for violence were that God intended America to be a new promised land for European Christians and society as a whole had become ‘too soft and feminine’. A third of the sample also believed the recent killings of Black Americans police are isolated incidents.
The more religious an American was the greater the nostalgia with white evangelical Protestants, white main line/non-evangelic Protestant, white Catholics all polling above 50%.
They appeared to be hankering after a past in which African Americans couldn’t vote, McCarthyism was prevalent, being gay was illegal and women’s place was in the home. All very much Leave it to Beaver country.
As for QAnon 29% of Republicans believe in its existence although 57% are doubtful about it. The biggest rejection of QAnon was among Democrats.
There were also big differences on policy. 66% of Democrats rate climate change as a critical issue compared with 12% of Republican. With access to guns (presumably ease of access) 66% of Democrats consider it critical while only 25% of Republicans see it as critical.
About the only issue the two lots of Party followers agreed on is the increasing costs of housing and everyday expenses. Democrats were also more worried about the future of democracy, health care, closing the gap between rich and poor, mental health and abortion. The gap on abortion was 17% but less than that on climate change and guns.
Republicans were very concerned about what children learn in public schools – perhaps what they ought not learn is the sub text – while Democrats were less worried about crime and immigration.
When asked whether they would only vote for a candidate who shares their views on specific issues the biggest differences were on abortion, access to guns and immigration.
A majority of Americans as a whole 58% thought there was credible evidence that Trump had committed Federal crimes and 60% thought he broke the law to try to stay in power.
But there were significant differences on both questions according to party affiliation. 91% of Democrats thought he was guilty of serious Federal crimes and 92% of them thought he broke the law in the attempted coup. The split for Independents was 58% and 60% respectively. For Republicans it was 23% and 27%.
When it came to trust in news sources on these two issues most American’s still trust mainstream news but only 20% trusted Fox News on the Federal crimes and 26% trusted Fox News on the 2020 coup attempt.