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Misinformation is eroding the public’s confidence in democracy

Brookings – Misinformation is eroding the public’s confidence in democracy: “Democracy in the United States is in serious trouble. A review of some recent public opinion research shows just how much. For example, an NPR survey conducted earlier this year found that 64% of the American population believes that U.S. democracy is in crisis and is at risk of failing. A strong indication that the situation is getting worse and not better is that over 70% of respondents in that poll said that democracy is more at risk of failure now than it was a year ago. Similarly, a Quinnipiac University survey reveals that 76% of respondents think political instability within the country is a bigger danger to the United States than external adversaries. Amazingly, this suggests that Americans recognize that we are a bigger threat to our own democracy than any other potential external threat. Sadly, according to this poll, over half of Americans (53%) expect political divisions in the country to worsen over their lifetime rather than get better. One of the drivers of decreased confidence in the political system has been the explosion of misinformation deliberately aimed at disrupting the democratic process. This confuses and overwhelms voters. Throughout the 2020 election cycle, Russia’s cyber efforts and online actors were able to influence public perceptions and sought to amplify mistrust in the electoral process by denigrating mail-in voting, highlighting alleged irregularities, and accusing the Democratic Party of engaging in voter fraud. The “big lie” reinforced by President Trump about the 2020 election results amplified the Russian efforts and has lasting implications on voters’ trust in election outcomes. The Collaborative Multi-Racial Political Study reveals that a robust 57% of white Americans believes there was voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, including 26% of whom believe there was definitely fraud in 2020. This survey also reveals that racial and ethnic minorities are highly susceptible to misinformation regarding voter fraud, as 38% of Latinos and 30% of African Americans think there might have been at least some fraud in 2020. Furthermore, in a 2021 survey by Howard University Digital Informers, a slim majority (51.5%) of respondents believe that “Black Americans are targets of fake news”…”

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