The Bright Line Watch initiative that I am co-organizing with John Carey (Dartmouth), Gretchen Helmke (Rochester), and Susan Stokes (Yale) has released its first expert survey results on the state of American democracy:
Despite an atmosphere of pessimism or panic among many observers and public intellectuals, the political science community holds a rather nuanced view of democratic governance in the United States as of February 2017. They rate the U.S. as performing well on many of the criteria that they say are most important for democracy. For instance, 86% say the United States fully or mostly meets the standard that elections are free and fair and approximately 80% say the same for the standards of protecting free speech and the judiciary limiting executive power.
The results, however, also provide significant reason for concern. Fewer than two-thirds (66%) are as confident that journalists can operate unimpeded by the state, that the elected branches respect judicial independence (65%), or that government agencies are not used to monitor and harass political opponents (60%). Only the barest majorities are confident that Congress can effectively check the executive or that executive authority can be constrained within constitutional limits (52% and 51%, respectively).