Large portion of Americans doubt democracy and view violence as acceptable, poll finds

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A large portion of Americans on both sides of the aisle favor getting rid of democracy and imposing violence on their political opponents, among other authoritarian measures, according to a new poll.

Thirty-one percent of Donald Trump supporters and 24% of President Joe Biden supporters said democracy is “no longer viable” and an alternative system should be tried, according to an October poll from the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

The poll surveyed 2,008 registered voters from Aug. 25 to Sept. 11 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.

Other key findings:

  • When asked whether it is acceptable to employ violence to stop political opponents from attaining their goals, 41% of Biden supporters and 38% of Trump supporters said yes.

  • 30% of Trump supporters and 25% of Biden supporters said elections should be suspended in times of crisis.

  • 41% of Trump supporters and 30% of Biden supporters said they favor either conservative or liberal states seceding from the union.

  • Nearly half of Biden supporters, 47%, and 35% of Trump supporters said the government should restrict the expression of views “considered discriminatory or offensive.”

The polling comes as Trump, the leading contender for the GOP nomination, continues to claim without evidence that the 2020 election was rigged against him.

The results, which signal a desire for an authoritarian crackdown, come at a time when public trust in government is at a near-record low, according to the Pew Research Center. In a 2023 poll, only 16% of Americans said they trusted the government to do what is right at least most of the time.

The poll reveals “really troubling findings about democracy and the potential for violence,” Rick Hasen, the director of UCLA’s Safeguarding Democracy Project, said on X.

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