Poll: Majority of Young Americans Believe Democracy Is ‘in Trouble’ or ‘Failing’

The U.S Capitol Building is prepared for the inaugural ceremonies for President-elect Joe
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More than half of young Americans — 52 percent — believe U.S. democracy is “in trouble” or “failing,” according to a poll released this week from the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School.

The poll, which surveyed young people between the ages of 18 to 29, found that 39 percent believe democracy is “in trouble,” and 13 percent “went as far as to declare the nation a ‘failed democracy.'” Only seven percent of young Americans view the United States as a “healthy democracy,” and 27 percent think the country has a “somewhat functioning democracy.”

Along party lines, Republicans are less hopeful than Democrats about the state of the nation.

“While Democrats are divided (44% healthy/somewhat functioning and 45% in trouble/failed) about the health of our democracy, 70% of Republicans believe that we are either a democracy in trouble (47%) or failed (23%). A majority (51%) of independent and unaffiliated young Americans also say we are in trouble or failed,” according to the poll report.

President Joe Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, in Washington. Biden is set to kick of more urgent campaign for Americans to get COVID-19 booster shots on Dec. 2, as he unveils a his winter plans to combat the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Joe Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Nearly half — 46 percent — of young Republicans also believe the chances of the second civil war are at 50 percent or higher “compared to 32 percent of Democrats, and 38 percent of independents and unaffiliated voters.”

“Similar patterns hold for those who think secession is likely. Overall, 25% rate the chances at 50% or greater,” the report states.

However, young Americans, 2-to-1, value compromise over confrontation. A plurality of every major subgroup prefers “elected officials meet in the middle — at the expense of my preferred policy priorities,” compared to “elected officials pursue my preferred policy priorities — at the expense of compromise.”

Young Americans overall have a less patriotic view of the United States, with Democrats and Republicans at opposite ends. According to the report, half of young Americans think there are “other nations as great or greater than America.” Less than a third of young Americans — 31 percent — believe America is the greatest country, and 18 percent say they do not know.

“The views of Democrats and Republicans are inverted with 21% of Democrats saying America is the greatest country and 64% saying other nations are as great or greater; 62% of Republicans believe that America is the greatest with 24% saying other nations are as great or greater,” according to the poll.

The poll was organized by the Harvard Public Opinion Project and conducted between October 26 through November 8, 2021, with a margin of error of +/- 3.08 percent.


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