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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Support for Democracy and Authoritarianism

  • The overwhelming majority of Americans support democracy and most of those who express negative views about it are opposed to authoritarian alternatives.
  • Nearly a quarter of Americans say that a strong leader who doesn’t have to bother with Congress or elections would be “fairly” or “very good” and 18 percent say that “army rule” would be “fairly” or “very good.” More than a quarter of respondents show at least some support for either a “strong leader” or “army rule.”
  • While support for “army rule” has increased steadily over the past 20 years, we actually find support for a strong leader declining for the first time in 2017 and returning to levels last seen in 1995. At the same time, the partisan tilt on the “strong leader” question has changed. Prior to 2017, Democratic respondents were consistently more likely to support a “strong leader” (even in 2006, with a Republican in the White House). As of 2017, Republicans are now more likely.
  • The highest levels of support for authoritarian leadership come from those who are disaffected, disengaged from politics, deeply distrustful of experts, culturally conservative, and have negative views toward racial minorities.
  • We find no relationship between dissatisfaction with democracy and support for an authoritarian system in which a strong leader doesn’t have to bother with Congress or elections.