By Julia Conely
Common Dreams (8/10/17)
Identifying it as part of the “slippery slope to dictatorship,” critics are pointing to a new poll as evidence that Trump’s base would likely support him even if he were to propose postponing the 2020 elections.
Sixty-eight percent of voters polled by two researchers believed the president’s repeated claims that widespread “voter fraud” cost him the popular vote in the 2016 election, and 52 percent said they would support postponing the 2020 election in order to make sure only “legal” citizens cast ballots. Fifty-six percent answered that they would support the measure if Trump and Congress approved of it.
While the researchers who conducted the study, Ariel Malka of Yeshiva University and Yphtach Lelkes of University of Pennsylvania, noted in the Washington Post that respondents were answering a hypothetical question and their opinions could change if a delayed election were actually proposed, they stressed the disturbing nature of the survey’s results:
“At a minimum, they show that a substantial number of Republicans are amenable to violations of democratic norms that are more flagrant than what is typically proposed (or studied). And although the ensuing chaos could turn more Republicans against this kind of proposal, it is also conceivable that a high-stakes and polarized debate would do the exact opposite. Postponing the 2020 presidential election is not something that Trump or anyone in his administration has even hinted at, but for many in his constituency floating such an idea may not be a step too far.”
The poll shocked many, with journalists and Trump critics noting that while Trump’s supporters may be in the minority, their unwavering support of a president who has repeatedly challenged democratic norms is alarming—and the opinions expressed in the survey stoke fears that the Trump administration has set the U.S. down the path to authoritarianism.
Others noted that the Republican leadership’s failure to effectively challenge Trump in the first six months of his term begs the question of whether it would push back against the president and his base, should a delayed election be suggested.