Survey: Health of Democracy and Rising Costs Are Leading Midterm Voter Concerns thumbnail

Survey: Health of Democracy and Rising Costs Are Leading Midterm Voter Concerns

By Dr. Rich Swier

WASHINGTON, D.C. /PRNewswire/ — As the midterm elections near, a new national survey released today by Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) shows a society divided between moving toward a more inclusive democracy and turning back the clock to the 1950s, as well as grave concerns about the health of our democracy.

PRRI’s 13th annual American Values Survey, released in partnership with the Brookings Institution, examines the dissatisfied state of American public opinion regarding the direction of the country and illuminates the partisan and cultural divides on midterm election priorities, abortion, immigration, education, gender identity, and LGBTQ rights.

“On questions related to American identity, the parties today are worlds apart—not just politically, but culturally. They increasingly defend different histories, live in different realities, and promote two essentially incompatible views of America’s future,” says Robert P. Jones, president and founder of PRRI. “The survey shows a hardening rightward stance among Republicans, anchored by a white evangelical base, which is increasingly out of step with the values of most other Americans.”

The following are highlights from the 2022 American Values Survey:

  • Consensus that America is headed in the wrong direction, but large partisan and religious divides about the future: Nearly three-quarters of Americans (74%) feel the country is going in the wrong direction, including almost all Republicans (93%) and a majority of Democrats (53%). Americans are divided, however, about whether the country’s culture and way of life has changed for the better (49%) or worse (49%) since the 1950s. Additionally, nearly a third of Americans (31%) say that God intended America to be a new promised land for European Christians, including approximately half of Republicans (49%) and white evangelical Protestants (50%).
  • Health of democracy and economy top voter priorities in the midterm elections: Among Americans who plan to vote in this year’s midterm elections, the issues most critical to them are the health of our democracy (57%) and the increasing costs of housing (57%) and everyday expenses (57%). However, the parties have very different ideas of what safeguarding our democracy means. Partisans hold mirror-opposite opinions, with 85% of Republicans saying voter fraud is the bigger problem and 83% of Democrats saying voter disenfranchisement is the bigger problem. One especially troubling finding is that one third of Republicans who say they are most concerned with the health of our democracy (33%) say true American patriots might have to resort to violence to set things right; among Democrats most concerned with the health of democracy, only 7% agree.
  • Americans oppose the Dobbs decision, Republican support for abortion bans drops by half: In June 2022, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organiza­tion, which overturned Roe v. Wade. Six in ten Americans (61%) oppose overturning Roe, while 35% favor it. More than eight in ten Democrats (82%) oppose the court decision, including 71% who strongly oppose it. Only 40% of Republicans oppose the decision, compared to 58% who favor it. Majorities of all major religious groups except white evangelical Protestants (37%) oppose the decision to overturn Roe. Nearly four in ten Republicans (37%) say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, compared to 86% of Democrats and 62% of all Americans.
  • Republicans are outliers on immigration and educational curriculum: More than three quarters of Democrats (77%) support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, up six percentage points since 2013. By contrast, only four in ten Republicans (40%) support a path to citizenship, a 13-point drop since 2013. On education, two thirds of Americans (66%) say public school teachers and librarians provide students with appropriate curricula and books that teach the good and bad of American history. A majority of Americans who most trust Fox News (60%), Republicans (54%) and white evangelical Protestants (51%) believe public school teachers and librarians are indoctrinating children with inappropriate material. Conversely, only 7% of Democrats believe this.

To view the full report, including survey methodology, visit

PRRI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to conducting independent research at the intersection of religion, culture, and public policy.

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