A newly released annual survey of political opinion in Texas provides a window into how Texans feel about democracy.
Josh Blank is research director for the Texas Lyceum Poll. He says the poll sought the opinion of adult Texans – a much broader cohort than “likely voters,” which is a common demographic covered by other polls.
To start, Lyceum asked Texans if they agreed or disagreed that “democracy is the best form of government.” Blank says 82% agreed. But among Texans under 30, the number who agreed fell to 70%. For those over 65 years of age, it was 95%.
Blank says a slight majority of respondents said they were satisfied with the way democracy works today.
The Lyceum Poll also asked about threats to U.S. democracy: 62% said domestic forces were the biggest threat. Blank says he thinks this result has to do with the public’s lack of knowledge about specific threats.
“As a public, we’re not really, completely aware of all of the election interference that took place in 2016, and even 2018, for all we know,” Blank says.
Blank says respondents also identified a lack of faith in politics as a possible threat to democracy.
“The No. 1 threat that people chose was money and politics – then, uninformed voters, people note voting and poorly prepared candidates for office,” Blank says.
Most Democrats viewed foreign actors as a major problem for U.S. democracy; far fewer Republicans felt this way, Blank says.
Blank says one of the biggest surprises in the Lyceum survey was widespread support for electoral reform.
“We tend to think of changes to the election system often as being partisan. … But over 80% of Texans supported provisions that would either strengthen the security of the registration list or the ballot box,” Blank says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.