This collection on American democracy challenges and complements blog posts and opinion pieces that are typical staples of the 24/7 news cycle in the lead up to US elections. You'll find reports about election and campaign administration, voting access and participation, government performance and perceptions, the role of the media in civil society, and more.

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"VOTE!" by Paul Sableman licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology - 2021

November 9, 2021

Partisan polarization remains the dominant, seemingly unalterable condition of American politics. Republicans and Democrats agree on very little – and when they do, it often is in the shared belief that they have little in common.Yet the gulf that separates Republicans and Democrats sometimes obscures the divisions and diversity of views that exist within both partisan coalitions – and the fact that many Americans do not fit easily into either one.Republicans are divided on some principles long associated with the GOP: an affinity for businesses and corporations, support for low taxes and opposition to abortion. Democrats face substantial internal differences as well – some that are long-standing, such as on the importance of religion in society, others more recent. For example, while Democrats widely share the goal of combating racial inequality in the United States, they differ on whether systemic change is required to achieve that goal.These intraparty disagreements present multiple challenges for both parties: They complicate the already difficult task of governing in a divided nation. In addition, to succeed politically, the parties must maintain the loyalty of highly politically engaged, more ideological voters, while also attracting support among less engaged voters – many of them younger – with weaker partisan ties.Pew Research Center's new political typology provides a road map to today's fractured political landscape. It segments the public into nine distinct groups, based on an analysis of their attitudes and values. The study is primarily based on a survey of 10,221 adults conducted July 8-18, 2021; it also draws from several additional interviews with these respondents conducted since January 2020.

Civic Participation

The Public, the Political System and American Democracy

April 26, 2018

At a time of growing stress on democracy around the world, Americans generally agree on democratic ideals and values that are important for the United States. But for the most part, they see the country falling well short in living up to these ideals, according to a new study of opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of key aspects of American democracy and the political system. The public's criticisms of the political system run the gamut, from a failure to hold elected officials accountable to a lack of transparency in government. And just a third say the phrase "people agree on basic facts even if they disagree politically" describes this country well today. The perceived shortcomings encompass some of the core elements of American democracy. An overwhelming share of the public (84%) says it is very important that "the rights and freedoms of all people are respected." Yet just 47% say this describes the country very or somewhat well; slightly more (53%) say it does not. Despite these criticisms, most Americans say democracy is working well in the United States – though relatively few say it is working very well. At the same time, there is broad support for making sweeping changes to the political system: 61% say "significant changes" are needed in the fundamental "design and structure" of American government to make it work for current times. The public sends mixed signals about how the American political system should be changed, and no proposals attract bipartisan support. Yet in views of how many of the specific aspects of the political system are working, both Republicans and Democrats express dissatisfaction. To be sure, there are some positives. A sizable majority of Americans (74%) say the military leadership in the U.S. does not publicly support one party over another, and nearly as many (73%) say the phrase "people are free to peacefully protest" describes this country very or somewhat well. In general, however, there is a striking mismatch between the public's goals for American democracy and its views of whether they are being fulfilled. On 23 specific measures assessing democracy, the political system and elections in the United States – each widely regarded by the public as very important – there are only eight on which majorities say the country is doing even somewhat well. The new survey of the public's views of democracy and the political system by Pew Research Center was conducted online Jan. 29-Feb. 13 among 4,656 adults. It was supplemented by a survey conducted March 7-14 among 1,466 adults on landlines and cellphones.

Government

Political Polarization in the American Public: How Increasing Ideological Uniformity and Partisan Antipathy Affect Politics, Compromise and Everyday Life

June 12, 2014

Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines -- and partisan antipathy is deeper and more extensive -- than at any point in the last two decades, according to a nationwide 10,000-person survey conducted by the Pew Research Center and supported by MacArthur. The survey finds that divisions are greatest among those who are the most engaged and active in the political process and that polarization also affects everyday life.

Civic Participation