Searching for a Bright Line: The First Year of the Trump Presidency

27 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2018  

John M. Carey

Dartmouth College

Gretchen Helmke

University of Rochester

Brendan Nyhan

Dartmouth College

Mitchell Sanders

Meliora Research

Susan C. Stokes

Yale University

Date Written: March 15, 2018

Abstract

Is American democracy under threat? The question is more prominent in political debate now than at any time in recent memory. Yet there is also widespread recognition that democracy is multifaceted and that backsliding, when it occurs, tends to be piecemeal. We provide original data from surveys of political science experts and of the general public, conducted during the first year of the Trump presidency, on democratic priorities and on assessments of democratic performance. We draw on a theory of how politicians may transgress limits on their authority, and under what conditions constraints are self-enforcing. We connect the theory to our survey data in an effort to identify potential areas of agreement on democratic principles and whether they have been violated. We find that there is substantial agreement about democratic priorities, but that polarization between Trump supporters and opponents presents a serious obstacle to any social consensus regarding violations.

Suggested Citation

Carey, John M. and Helmke, Gretchen and Nyhan, Brendan and Sanders, Mitchell and Stokes, Susan C., Searching for a Bright Line: The First Year of the Trump Presidency (March 15, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3142310 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3142310

John Michael Carey (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603 646 1130 (Phone)
603 646 2154 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~jcarey

Gretchen Helmke

University of Rochester ( email )

300 Crittenden Blvd.
Rochester, NY 14627
United States

Brendan Nyhan

Dartmouth College ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States

Mitchell Sanders

Meliora Research ( email )

Brighton, NY
United States

Susan C. Stokes

Yale University

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