Poll: Voters Do Not Trust the Parties to Give Americans Better Elections
Americans are growing increasingly concerned about the state of elections in the US. A recent Bipartisan Policy Center / Morning Consult poll found that over 80% of respondents are worried about American democracy, including 40% who are “very worried.”
The concern among voters is not limited to a single party or ideology. It exists across the political spectrum, and most respondents (59%) said they do not have confidence in either major party to reach across the aisle to pass solutions.
Voters' skepticism is not unfounded. It is also not new.
A 2019 NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist poll found that voters want the parties to work together and are open to a diversity of options, yet other polls have found that an overwhelming majority of voters believe elected officials are more accountable to their parties than their constituents.
Princeton conducted research that analyzed over 20 years of data and discovered that voters are right: Elected officials are not listening to them, and they are putting party divisions above long-lasting solutions to the nation’s biggest problems.
“The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy,” the study states.
The study was released back in 2015, and a few things have happened since then:
Hyper-partisanship has gotten worse, simply losing an election has increasingly led to people claiming the “other side” cheated, and the number of politicians willing to reach across the aisle has shrunk even more.
Voters have legitimate reasons to be concerned about democracy in the US, because despite demands for more cooperation and accountability from public officials, things have only gotten worse under a system that treats elections like a game of Team Red vs Team Blue.
Something else, however, has happened in the last 8 years – the US has seen a surge in nonpartisan reforms and campaigns to enact reform that shift the incentive to put the interests and needs of voters first.
Each election cycle comes with a new wave of reform victories, and while these victories have mostly been at a local level, states like Maine, Alaska, and Nevada are showing systemic change is possible even if the partisan establishment doesn’t want it.
It is no coincidence that as the state of democracy in the US decays, voters are looking outside the parties for answers. Just like it is no coincidence that a record-number of voters now self-identify as independent of the two major parties.
About the Author
Shawn is an election reform expert and National Editor of IVN.us. He studied history and philosophy at the University of North Texas. He joined the IVN team in 2012.