The lion’s share of Americans believes that respecting the results of elections and the peaceful transfer of power are essential elements of American democracy, according to a new national poll conducted by Ipsos in conjunction with the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
By a 77%-16% margin, respondents did not think that the 2020 election should be delayed and President Donald Trump given an extra two years in office. This question was based on a recent tweet by Liberty University President Jerry Falwell suggesting that because of Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the president’s term should be extended two years (Trump retweeted Falwell). There were partisan differences on this question: Democrats said no overwhelmingly, 89%-9%, while Republicans said no by a smaller 62%-31% margin.
Just 7% of respondents said that if Trump loses the 2020 election, he should ignore the results and stay in office.
Overall, about nine in 10 respondents said that the “peaceful handover of power after elections” and “both parties respecting the results of elections” were essential for the “healthy functioning of American democracy.”
A majority of respondents agreed with the statement that “Donald Trump does not respect the customs or traditions of the Presidency” (61% overall, and 86% of Democrats) and that he “does not respect the laws of the United States” (56% overall, and 83% of Democrats).
About two-fifths of all respondents (41%) — and over three-quarters of Republicans (77%) — agreed that a “deep state” is “trying to undermine Donald Trump’s presidency.” Also, 30% of all respondents and 60% of Republicans agreed that the “Mueller investigation prevented President Trump from achieving significant portions of his agenda.”
Therefore, as we would expect, Democrats were much likelier to agree that Trump does not respect the traditions of the presidency and the laws of the United States; Republicans were much likelier to agree that the “deep state” and the Mueller investigation have undermined Trump’s presidency.
Respondents were split, 41%-39%, as to whether Trump has achieved many of his goals in his first two years in office. Three-quarters of Republicans strongly or somewhat agreed that Trump has achieved many of his goals, while only about one-fifth (22%) of Democrats said the same.
The poll also asked some broader questions about respondents’ views of the power of the federal government and whether or not some of the rules and laws that govern the three branches are essential:
— Respondents had mixed opinions about which of the three branches of the federal government was the most powerful. About a third (35%) said that all three branches are equal, while about a fifth of the respondents apiece picked the Supreme Court (22%), Congress (20%), or the presidency (17%) as the most powerful branch. There were not any significant partisan distinctions among responses to this question.
— Majorities said the presidential veto (62%) and the two-term limit (79%) were essential to the “healthy functioning of American democracy.”
— By a 55%-33% margin, Americans did not agree that lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court were essential to the functioning of democracy.
— Respondents also did not deem the filibuster in the U.S. Senate as essential, with 39% indicating it was not essential, 30% indicating it was, and the remaining 30% not expressing an opinion.
— Just 33% of respondents agreed with the somewhat authoritarian proposal that to fix the United States, “we need a strong leader willing to break the rules.” Less than a quarter of Democrats (23%) agreed with that statement, but about half of Republicans did (53%).
Finally, the poll found support for beliefs that could broadly be described as anti-establishment:
— 71% (79% of Democrats, 63% of Republicans) agreed that “America needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful.”
— 70% (84% Democrats, 49% Republicans) agreed that “the American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful.”
— 69% (64% Democrats, 74% Republicans) agreed that “traditional parties and politicians don’t care about people like me.”
— 66% (49% Democrats, 87% Republicans) agreed that “the mainstream media is more interested in making money than telling the truth.”
— 65% (62% Democrats, 67% Republicans) agreed that “experts in this country don’t understand the lives of people like me.”
— 59% (52% Democrats, 67% Republicans) agreed that “politicians should be able to say what’s on their minds regardless of what anyone else thinks about their views.”
These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted May 14-15 on behalf of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. For the survey, a sample of 1,005 adults 18+ from the continental United States, Alaska, and Hawaii were interviewed online in English. The sample includes 376 Democrats, 345 Republicans, and 205 Independents.
For more information about how the survey was conducted, and for the full results and data tables, please visit:
This is the latest collaboration between Ipsos and the University of Virginia Center for Politics, which have worked together on several state-level and national polls and partnered to create the UVA Center for Politics/Ipsos Political Atlas during last year’s midterm elections.