Peaceful Handover of Power, Respecting Elections Cornerstones of American Democracy

Ipsos Poll on Behalf of the University of Virginia Center of Politics

The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Director, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, May 16, 2019 – A new poll conducted by Ipsos, on behalf of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, looks at American views of the current state of the democratic system. While the Constitution created the three branches of government to be equal, only slightly more than a third (35%) of Americans think the Presidency, Congress, and the Supreme Court have the same amount of power. Of the three branches, Americans are most likely to consider the Supreme Court the most powerful (22%), closely followed by Congress (20%), and lastly, the Presidency (17%).

Americans think the peaceful handover of power after elections and both parties respecting the results of elections (both 91%) are essential for American democracy, with broad agreement across party lines. Four in five also believe that the two-term limit for the president is essential (79%), with Independents (87%) more likely than Democrats or Republicans (both 78%) to say this. While nearly two-thirds of Americans (62%) think the president’s ability to veto legislation passed by Congress is essential for our democracy to work well, views are highly split by partisanship. Four in five Republicans (83%) agree with this, while only 61% of Independents and half of Democrats (49%) say the same. One third or fewer Americans think lifetime appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court (33%) and the filibuster in the Senate (30%) are essential for the healthy functioning of American democracy.

While some have advocated for delaying the 2020 elections due to the Russia investigations, just 16% of Americans agree with this. Republicans largely drive support (31%, compared to 12% of Independents and 9% of Democrats). Americans also reject the notion that President Trump should ignore the results of the 2020 election and stay in office if he loses; just 7% think he should do this.

Six in ten Americans (61%) believe that Trump does not respect the customs or traditions of the presidency. Views on this are highly partisan; while 86% of Democrats and 61% of Independents agree, only 29% of Republicans feel the same way. A majority of Americans also think Trump does not respect the laws of the U.S. (56%), with Democrats again driving sentiment (83%). Most Republicans think that President Trump achieved many of his goals in his first two years in office (75%) and that there is a “deep state” trying to undermine his presidency (77%). Finally, less than a third of Americans (30%) think the Mueller investigation prevented President Trump from achieving significant portions of his agenda. Over half of Republicans (60%) agree, compared to only a quarter of Independents (26%) and ever fewer Democrats (14%).

About the Study

These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted May 14-15 on behalf of the University of Virginia Center for Politics . For the survey, a sample of 1,005 adults 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii were interviewed online in English. The sample includes 376 Democrats, 345 Republicans, and 205 Independents.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,005, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-5.0 percentage points).

The poll also has a credibility interval plus or minus 5.8 percentage points for Democrats, 6.0 percentage points for Republicans, and 7.8 percentage points for Independents.

For more information about conducting research intended for public release or Ipsos’ online polling methodology, please visit our Public Opinion Polling and Communication page where you can download our brochure, see our public release protocol, or contact us.

About Ipsos Public Affairs

Ipsos Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research practice made up of seasoned professionals. We conduct strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research, but elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research.

Ipsos has media partnerships with the most prestigious news organizations around the world. Through our media partnerships, Ipsos Public Affairs is a leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and internationally. Ipsos Public Affairs is a member of the Ipsos Group, a leading global survey-based market research company. We provide boutique-style customer service and work closely with our clients, while also undertaking global research.


About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry.

With offices in 89 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,749.5 million in 2018.

The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Director, US, Public Affairs

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