Alex Gonzalez, Producer
Thursday, October 26, 2023
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In this increasingly divided nation, a new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute has found an overwhelming majority of Americans believe the future of American democracy is at stake in the 2024 presidential election.
President and Founder of PRRI Robert Jones said another concerning finding is that more believe political violence might be necessary.
“We found that this attitude has actually gone up over the last two years, right?” said Jones. “So, in the country, it is now a quarter of Americans, 23%, who say that ‘true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save the country.’ It has gone to fully a third of Republicans.”
Jones said that attitude has garnered support across the political spectrum, although Republicans are 2.5 times more likely to support it, due to their perceptions that the United States is “off track” and the 2020 election was “stolen” from former President Donald Trump.
Lilliana Mason, associate professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University, said Democrats and Republicans are likely to have different interpretations of the term ‘political violence.’
She explained that Democrats often tend to think of it in terms of property damage – while Republicans think of armed resistance.
She called the findings taunting, and said leaders on both sides of the aisle need to play more active roles in condemning violence of any kind.
“One very easy thing for us to do,” said Mason, “not easy, but concrete thing for us to do – is to try and encourage our leaders to make it very, very clear to their supporters, and the people who trust them and follow them, that these types of attitudes do not have a place in a healthy democracy.”
The survey highlights that a majority of younger voters – Millennials, Gen X and Gen Z – prefer a president who can best manage the economy, while older voters – in the Baby Boomer and Silent Generations – prefer a president who can preserve and protect American culture.
Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.