ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Joe Biden’s presidential win remains in question, a full year after one of the most controversial elections in history. A new survey reveals that three in four Republicans continue to say Biden is not the rightful presidential winner.
Surprisingly, the Bright Line Watch survey finds even support for Biden’s 2020 win among Democrats dipped slightly over the president’s first year in office — dropping from 97 percent to 94 percent. Overall, less than two-thirds of respondents (63%) say the rightful winner of the election is currently sitting in the White House.
“For a democracy to survive, parties must be willing to lose elections and politicians must be willing to acknowledge when they have lost,” says Gretchen Helmke, a professor of political science at the University of Rochester, in a release. “The fact that the Republican Party is unwilling to acknowledge the 2020 loss fundamentally undermines the most basic principle of our democracy.”
2022 already in question?
Bright Line Watch, a nonpartisan watchdog group of political scientists, has been conducting surveys on the health of U.S. democracy since February 2017 — the start of the Trump presidency.
Since February 2021, President Biden’s first full month in office, the poll finds very little has changed in the minds of voters. At that time, only 64 percent of Americans thought the 2020 election outcome was legitimate, with 97 percent of Democrats and 27 percent of Republicans supporting the results.
Heading into the new year, the survey of 2,750 people finds Americans already have misgivings about the nation’s midterm elections in Congress. Just 62 percent are “very” or “somewhat confident” that polling sites around the country will count the votes correctly.
The partisan divide continues to run deep here as well. While four in five Democrats feel 2022 will see fair elections, only 42 percent of Republicans agree.
Reforming the Senate?
The Bright Line Watch team also polled 564 political science experts to get their take on the growing divide in American politics. Despite recent political polarization, the experts say Democratic voters generally underestimate the commitment of their Republican peers to follow the principles of a democracy and Republicans underestimate the commitment of Democrats as well.
Although researchers believe the support for political violence has been overstated in their previous polls, the experts surveyed warn that millions of Americans still endorse the use of violence against rival political parties.
While these surveys have focused on monitoring democratic norms and principles over the last few years, the experts polled actually support fundamentally changing the makeup of the country’s legislative branch. The group of political scientists in the November poll say the country should reform the Senate based on the population of each state. This would mean each state no longer has equal representation within the U.S. Senate.
“Experts see a number of reforms to campaign and legislative rules and practices as beneficial to democracy. With few exceptions, however, they think these reforms are quite unlikely to be enacted,” study authors conclude.
As for what the public thinks, a majority of Republicans and Independents in the survey both oppose such a plan while Democrats would support a political shakeup.