Under 50% believe the U.S. system of government is sound as unfounded concerns about voter fraud and an attempted insurrection by Republicans have diminished the belief in American Democracy.
Those are the findings of a recent national Monmouth University Poll where just 8% believe that the American system of government is basically sound and needs either no changes or 35% wanting some improvement. The combined 43% is nearly identical to 44% who said the same shortly after the U.S. Capitol riot in January. That is down from a 50%-55% range recorded prior to attempts to overturn the election of President Joe Biden led by Donald Trump and his supporters.
In the current poll taken during the first week of November, 26% say the system is not too sound and needs many improvements. While down from the 33% view pollsters took in January, the shift in opinion has resulted in more rather than less negative views. Specifically, 30% feel that the American system is not sound at all and needs significant changes as compared to 22% in January 2021 and between 21% and 24% in polls taken between 2017 and 2020.
The Effects of the Big Lie
Four decades ago, only 10% of the country said the American system was not at all sound.
“The increase of distrust in the American system appears to be linked to the persistence of ‘The Big Lie’,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. “The fact that this belief continues to get oxygen is having a serious, and potentially dangerous, impact on faith in our fundamental democratic processes.”
Nearly one-third (32%) of the American public continues to believe that President Biden won the 2020 election only due to voter fraud—the same percent the polling outfit has encountered across five polls in the past year. This is being driven by 73% of Republicans who are of the mind that President Biden won through some sort of illegal means.
Among all voters who believe fraud determined the 2020 outcome, 45% say that the American system is not at all sound. Comparatively, among the 6 in 10 Americans who believe Biden won the election fair and square, 23% feel that way.
Failed Insurrection Investigation
With time and more information to digest the failed insurrection on Jan. 6, 27% say that the anger that led to the U.S. Capitol riot was at least partially justified, including a majority of Republicans (54%).
As the investigation by a bipartisan House Select Committee begins to ramp up, a plurality is backing the investigation. Just over half of the public has either a lot (26%) or a little (31%) trust that the House Select Committee set up to examine this incident will conduct a fair investigation. Most Republicans (75%) have no trust at all in the committee after GOP congressional leaders refused to back the investigation.
With subpoenas being or considered given to figures in Trump world who were involved in planning the “Stop the Steal” rally in January—including Stephen Bannon, Alex Jones, Roger Stone and then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows—the public approves of having the select committee look into whether members of Congress (73%) or Trump (67%) played a role in the incident along with looking into possible fraud in the 2020 election (60%).
GOP Looks to Protects Trump
While majorities of Republicans support having the committee investigate possible election fraud (70%) and the role members of Congress may have played (58%), that number declines to 40% approving of the committee looking into anything that could implicate Trump. About 9 in 10 Democrats approve of an inquiry into the role played by Trump and members of Congress, while 47% say the same about looking into possible election fraud.
“Democrats do not believe that Biden won through fraud, as the poll results clearly show. The fact that nearly half want to see an investigation into possible fraud likely stems from their hopes that it would put the false claims to rest,” said Murray.
The issue of who won the election has in some ways solidified a divided nation. Just under half of all Americans feel the country has become more divided since President Biden took office. Twelve percent say the U.S. has become more united and 38% say nothing has really changed. At a similar point in Trump’s term, 63% said the country had become more divided, with the number topping out at 70% right after the 2020 election.
Unsurprisingly, there is a partisan divide on the divide—78% of Republicans say that the country has become more divided under Biden versus 49% did under Trump a year ago. Far fewer Democrats say that the country has become more divided under the current president from their own party (22%) while more felt that way about the president from the opposite party last year (90%). However, only 25% of Democrats see the country as becoming more united since Biden took office; half (52%), in fact, say nothing has changed.
The divide is increasingly played out on social media and specifically, Facebook. Monmouth looked into usage of Facebook for political content in its survey and found they both parties use the social media platform equally, Republicans are twice as likely to read items about politics there on a daily basis—24% for Republicans and 12% for Democrats.
Focus on Facebook
And while 77% of Americans feel Facebook does a bad job monitoring its content, there is a split of why they are doing a bad job. For Republicans 53% argue that it does a bad job because its monitoring goes too far, while most Democrats (66%) say it does a bad job because it does not go far enough.
Due to this, there is a growing appetite for a governing body to intervene. Fifty one of respondents support greater government regulation of how Facebook operates, while 36% would oppose. Two-thirds of Democrats support greater regulation regardless of whether they use Facebook (66%) or not (69%).
Republicans are more divided on the issue, with 53% of those who do not use the platform supporting greater government regulation but just 34% of GOP Facebook users agree. There is also a gap in this support, albeit smaller, among Independents who do not use the platform (55%) versus those who do (42%).