Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties. The state of the GOP is not good. Trump and his minions falsely claimed that he won the election, and have kept repeating the Big Lie. And we now know how close he came to subverting the Constitution.
Sixty-five percent of Americans believe Biden's victory in the 2020 election was legitimate, which is similar to the results of a January 2021 ABC News/Ipsos poll (68%). Nearly all Democrats -- 93% -- think the election results were legitimate while most Republicans do not. Among Republicans, 71% sided with Trump's false claims that he was the rightful winner.
So, what do they want now? There is 12% of the country, and a fifth of Trump's 2020 voters, that want Trump to fight to retake the presidency right now, before the next election.
When we follow up with them on that idea, they mostly say they would like to see that done through legal channels. But then a third of the people within that 12% say he should use force if necessary. While that only amounts to 4% of the population, it still translates into millions of Americans effectively willing to see a forceful change in the executive branch.
A majority of Americans have their doubts about whether the presidential election of 2020 was “fairly and constitutionally decided,” [false: see above] but there has been no attempt—organized or otherwise—to appeal to bullets. [False: some of the insurrections carried guns.] Americans understand at some fundamental level that they have been bequeathed an incredible gift: to live in a nation where political power is transferred peacefully to opposing partisans as the result of free elections. The election of 2020 tested that understanding, but concerns over possible election fraud did not lead to insurrection or rebellion. Rather, Americans continue to support the kind of common-sense measures that would help to ensure free and fair elections in 2022, 2024, and beyond.
If Democrats are successful in their campaign of disinformation, however, and continue labeling those who have concerns about the questionable electoral practices employed in 2020 as unpatriotic insurrectionists who wish to destroy democracy and successfully enshrine those questionable practices permanently into federal law, we may see a fundamental shift in American attitudes about their cherished electoral system. It is not entirely clear what will happen when a significant portion of the electorate believes that a free and fair election is no longer possible because the system is permanently rigged to keep the ruling party in power.
The question that may then arise is whether it will even be possible to decide elections peacefully through ballots, or whether bullets will be the last resort—as they were in 1860. When there is in fact no fundamental ground upon which the two sides of our deepening partisan divide can agree, it is hard to see how this conclusion will be avoided.