Widespread feeling that the 2024 presidential election carries serious stakes for the country

Sixty-two percent say democracy in the United States could be at risk depending on the results of the 2024 presidential election.

December 15, 2023

Confidence in U.S. democracy remains low. Most of the public think democracy could be at risk depending on who wins the presidential election next year, including majorities of both Democrats and Republicans.

The public has lacked confidence how democracy is working for several years. Fifty-one percent say it’s not working well, 40% think it is working somewhat well, and just 8% feel it’s working very or extremely well. These results were similar when the question was asked previously, including October 2022, when 9% said democracy is working very or extremely well and October 2020, when 14% said it was working well.

People feel the stakes are high for the next election. Sixty-two percent of adults think democracy could be at risk depending on who wins the presidency in November. About equal shares feel democracy is already so broken that the election doesn’t matter (19%) and that democracy is strong enough to withstand the outcome (18%).

Fifty-five percent of Republicans think democracy could be at risk depending on the 2024 winner, as do 72% of Democrats.  Republicans are more likely to think democracy is already broken than Democrats (23% vs. 10%).

Partisans on both sides feel that each party’s front-runner poses a risk to the health of the democracy. Eighty-seven percent of Democrats believe that if Trump is elected again in 2024 he will weaken democracy, and 82% of Republicans say the same about Biden.  However, Republicans are more likely to believe that if Trump wins reelection in 2024, democracy would be strengthened compared with Democrats’ view of a Biden reelection.

People think the outcome of the 2024 election will have serious stakes for a range of issues as well. Three quarters of adults say the outcome of the election will be important for the economy, and about two-thirds think it will have important consequences for government spending, the future of democracy in the U.S., and immigration.  

Democrats are more likely than Republicans to regard the 2024 election as extremely or very important to the future of climate change (65% vs. 24%), issues around race and ethnicity (64% vs. 33%), abortion policy (76% vs. 47%), the future of democracy (76% vs. 61%), health care (67% vs. 55%), and gun policy (62% vs. 51%). Republicans are more likely compared with Democrats to expect the election to have an important impact on border security (78% vs. 53%), crime (68% vs. 47%), government spending (77% vs. 63%), immigration (76% vs. 63%), and the economy (82% vs. 73%).

The nationwide poll was conducted November 30-December 4, 2023 using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,074 adults. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4.0 percentage points.

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