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The Democracy Project
Even as Americans remain committed to the ideals of democracy, a majority see democracy in the United States as weak and getting weaker, according to a national survey jointly commissioned by Freedom House, the George W. Bush Institute, and the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. With democracy and democratic institutions under attack globally, the three organizations engaged two polling firms, one Democratic and one Republican, to survey Americans’ attitudes about democratic principles and institutions at home and support for U.S. policies that advance democracy abroad.
We are grateful to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for its generous support of our research.
- Broad Support for Democracy
Americans consider it important to live in a democracy, but a clear majority see U.S. democracy as getting weaker.
- Demographic Differences
Groups that perceive less benefit from the current system of government—notably nonwhite voters—are less convinced of the importance of democracy. Minority groups and people of color are still significantly underserved by U.S. democracy.
- Frustration with "Big Money" and Racism
Americans are frustrated with racism and the corrosive influence of money in politics.
- Protection of Minority Rights
Most Americans believe that protecting the rights of individuals and small groups should take precedence over the will of the majority.
- Support for U.S. Engagement
Americans support the idea that democracy and human rights should play a role in U.S. foreign policy.
- Strengthening Confidence in Democracy
Poll respondents expressed strong support for a range of measures that could start to reverse the erosion of confidence in American democracy.