A majority of American voters across nearly all demographics and ideologies believe their system of government does not work, with 58 percent of those interviewed for a New York Times/Siena College poll saying that the world’s oldest independent constitutional democracy needs major reforms or a complete overhaul.
The discontent among Republicans is driven by their widespread, unfounded doubts about the legitimacy of the nation’s elections. For Democrats, it is the realization that even though they control the White House and Congress, it is Republicans, joined with their allies in gerrymandered state legislatures and the Supreme Court, who are achieving long-sought political goals.
For Republicans, the distrust is a natural outgrowth of former President Donald J. Trump’s domination of the party and, to a large degree, American politics. After seven years in which he relentlessly attacked the country’s institutions, a broad majority of Republicans share his views on the 2020 election and its aftermath: Sixty-one percent said he was the legitimate winner, and 72 percent described the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol as a protest that got out of hand.
The survey results come as the House committee investigating Jan. 6 revealed new evidence this week that Mr. Trump and his aides had a hand in directing the mob to the Capitol to try to maintain his hold on the executive branch.
Among all voters, 49 percent said the Capitol riot was an attempt to overthrow the government. Another 55 percent said Mr. Trump’s actions after the 2020 election had threatened American democracy. As with so many other issues, voters saw the riot through the same partisan lens as other issues.
Seventy-six percent of Republican voters said Mr. Trump had simply been exercising his right to contest his loss to Joseph R. Biden Jr. Asked if Mr. Trump had committed crimes while contesting the election, 89 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of independent voters said yes, while 80 percent of Republicans said he had not.
“If I’d have been Trump, I’d have been very pissed off about the whole situation,” said Charles Parrish, 71, a retired firefighter from Evans, Ga.
Among Democrats, 84 percent said the Capitol attack was an attempt to overthrow the government and 92 percent said Mr. Trump threatened American democracy.
Democrats’ pessimism about the future stems from their party’s inability to protect abortion rights, pass sweeping gun control measures and pursue other liberal priorities in the face of Republican opposition. Self-described liberals were more likely than other Democrats to have lost trust in government and more likely to say voting did not make a difference.
Key Findings From the Times/Siena College Poll
The first poll of the midterm cycle. The New York Times has released its first national survey of the 2022 midterm cycle. Here’s what to…