Angst of the Americas: Four-in-five Canadians worry about the domestic impacts of continued U.S. political turmoil

Angst of the Americas: Four-in-five Canadians worry about the domestic impacts of continued U.S. political turmoil

Seven-in-ten Canadians believe U.S. democracy can’t survive another four years of Trump


February 9, 2022 – As Canadians come to terms with deepening political conflict and division domestically, new data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds many also looking south with growing alarm over internal political strife in the United States.

Four-in-five Canadians say they are worried the current state of U.S. democracy will negatively impact Canada’s economy and security. This is the majority belief across regional and political lines, though past Conservative voters are most likely to dissent at one-in-five (22%).

Many are already looking ahead to the 2024 election, as speculation ramps up that Donald Trump will once again represent the Republican Party in challenging for the nation’s top job. The prospects of another Joe Biden term are met with little enthusiasm or critique in Canada, while the idea of a return of Trump is overwhelmingly viewed as bad for U.S.

Further, there are many Canadians who believe Trump winning a second term in 2024 would mean the end of democracy in the United States. Seven-in-ten (68%) of Canadians agree that democracy in the U.S. cannot survive another four years of Trump as president. They are joined in that sentiment by half (49%) of Americans, but many (44%) on that side of the 49th parallel believe democracy in the U.S. will be fine even if Trump is president again.

Regardless of who ends up running for the presidency in 2024, there is concern on both sides of the border that the path the United States is heading down is increasingly an authoritarian one. Approaching half on both sides of the border (47% in Canada, 49% in the U.S.) believe the U.S. is on its way to becoming an authoritarian state. Notably, past Trump voters (60%) are more likely to hold this belief than those who voted for Biden in the 2020 presidential election (43%).

More Key Findings:

  • One-third (36%) of past Conservative voters believe a second term of Trump would make America better. For past Liberal, NDP and Bloc voters, nearly all say four more years of Trump would make the country worse.
  • Nearly all of those who voted Liberal, Bloc or NDP in September believe U.S. democracy will be in peril if Trump is re-elected. Past CPC voters are more split: 43 per cent believe democracy in the U.S. can’t survive another term of Trump, 44 per cent disagree.
  • A majority of past Liberal (54%) and NDP (60%) voters believe the U.S. is on its way to becoming an authoritarian state. Two-in-five of those who voted CPC (41%) and Bloc (38%) in September agree, but an equal number of those partisans (40% CPC, 37% Bloc) say that isn’t the case.

 

About ARI

The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.

 

INDEX

Part One: Canada as collateral damage?

  • Canadians worry about the fallout of U.S. political discord

Part Two: Canadians dread Trump 2024 victory, Americans disenchanted with both options

  • Concerns about increasing authoritarianism in the U.S.

 

Part One: Canada as collateral damage?

The Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol heightened the anxiety of many Canadians with an eye on their southern neighbour. It was cited as a concern for the future of the country’s democracy, this after former U.S. President Donald Trump baselessly questioned the legitimacy of his election loss. More than one year after the attack, the Republican Party declared the Jan. 6 riot “legitimate political discourse”, which runs counter to the views of a majority of Americans who instead call it “an act of domestic terrorism.”

Related: Majority of Canadians & Americans say January 6 riot was ‘domestic terrorism’

While recent events have had a significant negative impact on the international image of the U.S., it follows a decline seen through four years of Trump’s presidency. Public opinion of the U.S. in the eyes of the citizens of key allies has declined to historic lows. Canadians, too, have had more negative opinions of the U.S. in recent years – half say they have unfavourable views of their southern neighbour.

Canadians worry about the fallout of U.S. political discord

With the two countries sharing the world’s longest undefended border, as well as a key trading relationship, Canada is inexorably tied to the U.S. With that in mind, many Canadians worry of the spillover effect of any dissension in the U.S. Four-in-five (78%) say they are worried the democratic conflict in the U.S. will affect Canada’s economy and security. This is the overwhelming majority opinion across the country.

Notably, Canada, too, has seen its own political discord manifest in a state of emergency in the nation’s capital after over a week of protest from the “Freedom Convoy,” which may have drew significant funding from the U.S.

At least three-quarters of Canadians of all political stripes say they worry about the bleed-over effect of continued democratic conflict south of the border. One-in-five (22%) past Conservative voters disagree, a rate double that of any other group of past voters:

Part Two: Canadians dread Trump 2024 victory, Americans disenchanted with both options

Americans have lived for a year under U.S. President Joe Biden and are apparently less than enamoured with what they have seen. Looking ahead to the 2024 U.S. presidential election, half of Americans (47%) say the U.S. would be worse off if Biden won a second term. One-quarter (25%) believe nothing will change for better or worse with another four years of Biden, about the same number (24%) who say the country will improve.

Canadians are more optimistic about the effect of a second Biden term than their American counterparts. One-third (33%) believe it will make things better. Still, one-third (33%) of Canadians believe four more years of Biden won’t make a difference and three-in-ten (28%) believe the country will be worse off:

The U.S. Justice Department indicated last month it was probing Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Meanwhile, there is much speculation that Trump is gearing up for another run at the oval office in 2024 as he continues to deny losing the election in 2020.

The outlook for both Canadians and Americans for another four years of Trump is more negative than positive. Half (47%) of Americans and two-thirds of Canadians believe the country will be “much worse” after re-electing Trump in 2024. Still, two-in-five (39%) Americans believe the country would be well served with a second Trump presidency; fewer than one-in-five (17%) Canadians agree:

There is a Canadian political divide in how the two potential presidential candidates would affect the United States. One-third (36%) of past Conservative voters believe a second term of Trump would make America better, almost triple the number who believe the same of another round of Biden.

Conversely, majorities of past Liberal and Bloc voters, and a plurality of past NDP voters, believe a full eight-year Biden presidency would have a positive effect. Nearly all of those non-CPC voters are of the opinion that another Trump term would make the country worse:

While there is an overwhelming majority of past voters of Trump who believe the U.S. will be better if he wins again in 2024, there isn’t the same level of belief that a second Biden term would improve the country from those who voted for Biden in the 2020 election. As many past Biden voters believe a second Biden term would make America better (45%) as who believe it won’t make a difference (42%):

Many Canadians worry that democracy in the U.S. cannot survive another Trump presidency. Seven-in-ten (68%) believe Americans re-electing Trump would lead to the death of democracy in the U.S. Half (49%) of Americans agree, but there are more on that side of the border (44%) who believe democracy in the U.S. will continue even after another Trump term:

Nearly all of past NDP, Liberal and Bloc voters believe U.S. democracy is in peril if Trump is elected again in 2024. Those who voted CPC in last fall’s election are more split: 43 per cent believe democracy in the U.S. can’t survive another term of Trump, 44 per cent say it can:

Concerns about increasing authoritarianism in the U.S.

On both sides of the border, there is worry that authoritarianism is taking hold in the United States. Approaching half (47%) of Canadians say the U.S. is trending away from being the land of the free. Americans who believe the U.S. is becoming more authoritarian (49%) nearly double the number who disagree (26%):

Trump is regularly painted as an authoritarian by detractors. The brush is lighter, but the accusations of authoritarianism directed at the president’s office continue despite it being occupied by a different man. With this in mind, voters on both side of the political divide in the United States are more likely than not to believe the country is trending towards authoritarianism, but the belief is stronger among those who voted for Trump in 2020. In Canada, it is past NDP voters who feel most strongly about this trend:

Survey Methodology:

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Jan. 27-31, 2022 among a representative randomized sample of 1,620 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

ARI conducted a second online survey from Jan. 27-31, 2022 among a representative randomized sample of 1,007 American adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum USA. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI. Detailed tables are found at the end of this release.

For detailed results for Canadian respondents by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.

For detailed results for American respondents by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.

To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here

To read the questionnaire in English and French, click here.

Image – Aaron Burden/Unsplash

MEDIA CONTACT:

Shachi Kurl, President: 604.908.1693 shachi.kurl@angusreid.org @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Director: 250.899.0821 dave.korzinski@angusreid.org

 


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