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Almost half in new poll sees likelihood US will ‘cease to be a democracy in the future’

Almost half of all Americans believe the United States might “cease to be a democracy in the future,” according to a new Yahoo News-YouGov poll. 

The poll of more than 1,500 adults released Wednesday found that 55 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of Republicans surveyed believe the country will “likely” not remain a democracy one day. Including independents and those who did not identify a political affiliation, 49 percent of all respondents expressed this belief. 

One-quarter of those polled said they believe the end of U.S. democracy is unlikely, and another quarter said they were not sure. 

Many on both sides of the political spectrum might agree that American democracy is facing serious threats, but they disagreed on the cause. 

A majority of Democrats and Republicans surveyed said they would describe the other side of the political aisle with negative phrases such as “out of touch with reality,” a “threat to America,” “immoral” or a “threat to me personally.” A vast minority of both groups described the other side with positive terms such as “well-meaning” or “not that different from me.” 

Although the first June public hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack attracted nearly 20 million viewers on broadcast and cable news, less than a quarter of respondents said they watched the hearing live Thursday, and 27 percent said they have watched news coverage of the hearing since then. About half said they did not follow it at all. 

Respondents who voted for former President Trump, who are Republicans and who watch Fox News reported the lowest rates of live viewership at 9 percent, 13 percent and 22 percent, respectively. In comparison, 52 percent of MSNBC watchers, 47 percent of those who voted for President Biden and 44 percent of Democrats said they watched live. 

More than 70 percent of respondents who said they watched the hearing live identified as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents. 

Forty-five percent of respondents said they believe the committee’s claim that the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection was part of a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 presidential election, while 35 percent said it was not and 20 percent said they were unsure. 

Thirty-seven percent said Trump was at the “center” of such a conspiracy. 

Seventy-seven percent of Democratic respondents said the insurrection was part of a conspiracy to overturn the election, but 59 percent of Republicans said it was not. Independents surveyed were almost evenly split on whether it was part of a conspiracy, with 39 percent saying it was and 41 percent saying it was not.

The percentage of respondents who said the attack was “justified” remained low but rose 5 points from December, to 17 percent, and the proportion of those who described Jan. 6 participants as “primarily peaceful and law-abiding” rose from 24 percent to 30 percent over the same period. 

The number of Americans surveyed who believe another attack like Jan. 6 could happen again in the future dropped from 60 percent to 53 percent in that time. 

Meanwhile, only about half of respondents said they were willing to rule out using “physical violence” and “taking up arms against the government” to protect the country from “radical extremists.” About a quarter of respondents said those actions are justified, including almost a third of Trump voters.

The poll was based on a sample of 1,541 adults and was conducted from June 10 to 13. The margin of error is about 2.9 percentage points.

Tags Biden Democracy Jan. 6 attack Jan. 6 hearings January 6 insurrection pew research center political violence poll

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