The Democrats’ Democratic Dividend
The US midterm elections in November revealed broad popular support for defending democracy, particularly among young voters. Given the severity and urgency of the threat, what are President Joe Biden’s administration and congressional Democrats waiting for?
CHICAGO – Last month’s midterm elections in the United States were surprising in more ways than one. The Democrats’ unexpectedly strong performance not only has shifted the political terrain for the next two years, but has revealed that a substantial number of voters across party lines, many of them young, are deeply concerned about the fate of American democracy. But no one has offered these voters a credible agenda for improving and strengthening self-governance.
Popular support for defending democratic norms was already evident in pre-election surveys. In a Pew Research Trust poll published a week before the vote, 70% of respondents ranked “the future of democracy in the United States” as “very important” to them, compared to 79% who cited the economy as a major concern. Similarly, an NBC exit poll found that 68% of voters described American democracy as “threatened,” as opposed to “secure.”
Even some Republicans prioritize democracy over political power. Recent research by the Polarization Research Lab – a joint project of Dartmouth College, the University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford University – demonstrates that disregard for democratic norms within the GOP is limited to Donald Trump’s MAGA faction. It is no surprise, then, that Trump’s re-election-campaign announcement failed to excite establishment Republicans. Even Fox News covered only part of it, while the conservative New York Post was withering, running the line “Florida Man Makes Announcement” on its cover and burying the story on page 26.