JULY 2023 SURVEY REPORT: Tracking Deep Distrust of Democratic Institutions, Conspiracy Beliefs, and Support for Political Violence Among Americans Chicago Project on Security and Threats
Robert A. Pape  |  July 10, 2023

CPOST has measured anti-democratic attitudes and support for political violence among Americans since June 2021.   CPOST measures the degree of deep distrust in democratic institutions to produce free and fair results, belief in extreme political conspiracy theories about how democratic institutions are run, and support for political violence to achieve political results these institutions do not authorize – all in a single nationally representative survey.  

This “Dangers to Democracy” tracker, thus, creates a composite and rolling picture of the American mindset on the vitality and success of American democracy, essential to understanding how major political and violent dangers to the world’s leading democracy can arise and critical to developing effective strategies to address and mitigate risks to the health and stability of the health and stability of American democracy.

Knowing the degree of support for political violence among Americans is important.   This is our best measure of the potential “kindling” that could be enflamed by incendiary political rhetoric and also our best measure of the most radical support for political causes.   Hence, tracking the magnitude of public support for violence for specific political causes and how that is changing over time is of central importance to understanding the depth of the dangers to democracy in the United States.  

The topline results, presented in this report, are based on a high-quality nationally representative survey constructed by CPOST and fielded by the respected NORC at the University of Chicago from June 24-26, 2023, with a random sample of 3,543 drawn from a probability panel of 50,000 American adults matched to the national population on many dozens of factors.   

The key findings are:

  1. Increasing radical, expressly violent support for trump following the federal indictment for mishandling classified documents
  2. Belief that our democratic institutions are corrupt and radical support for Trump
  3. The perceived high stakes for democracy in the 2024 elections
  4. Increasing support for political violence against congress and on the left
  5. Vast, untapped support for bipartisan solutions