UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, or IGS, released its most recent poll on Californian voters and the threats to American democracy Saturday.
This announcement was preceded by a panel discussion of the data and the state of midterm elections hosted by Berkeley IGS on Friday and moderated by IGS co-director Cristina Mora. The panel featured Marisa Lagos from KQED, David Lauter from the LA Times and IGS co-director Eric Schickler and director Mark DiCamillo.
According to DiCamillo, political divisiveness and threats to voting are some of the top issues facing America.
“After January 6th you have this sense that our democracy is under threat and you have concerted movements to deny the validity of the election,” Schickler said. “What Democrats have tried to do is to make this election a least in part about this crisis and what we’re seeing in the polling is that they haven’t had a ton of success there for the most part.”
A majority of Californians agree that American democracy is under crisis and voting rights are under threat, according to DiCamillo’s statement released with the poll.
During the panel, Schickler discussed the idea of “negative partisanship,” where each party in America blames its opposition for the problem.
According to the IGS poll, 81% of California Democrats fear threats of physical violence over election results and 79% worry about organized efforts making it harder to vote. Yet, according to IGS, 69% of California Republicans believe that illegal voting is a major threat and 52% of California Republicans don’t believe in the accuracy of election results.
“Electoral denial is becoming an article of faith in a way that is worrisome,” Schickler said during the panel.
The upcoming midterm election is shaping up to be one of two very separate narratives, according to Schickler, who said polling is predicting Congressional losses by the President’s party. However with this being the first national election since the Dobbs decision and Jan. 6 insurrection, there is a push against the tide by Democrats.
However, DiCamillio said these efforts have been blocked as current economic concerns are hurting the Democratic goals.
Within California, factioning is happening inside the Democratic party, according to Schickler. During the panel, Lagos and Schickler referenced the Los Angeles mayoral race. According to Lagos during the panel, Rick Caruso has been able to appeal to Latine voters as both a businessman and with Spanish-language ads.
“If you look at the California Democrats in the legislature, you now have a bunch of very progressive Democrats,” Schickler said. “But you have another group who tends to rely on more money from business, is more moderate or try to position themselves pro-economic growth, pro-business Democrats.”