AJC poll: Voters prioritize threats to democracy among top issues

Democracy listed above issues such as abortion and crime
Voters at Snellville United Methodist Church on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Voters at Snellville United Methodist Church on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Georgia voters rank threats to democracy as the second-most-important issue in the country — above the economy, immigration and abortion — according to a poll by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Only the cost of living scored higher among Georgians’ priorities as they’re coping with inflation that has driven up prices of food, gas and many other necessities, the poll said.

Though voters are worried about the state of American democracy, they’re increasingly convinced that this fall’s elections will be conducted fairly and accurately. About 67% of likely voters in the poll said they’re either very confident or somewhat confident in the upcoming election, an increase from 56% in January and 60% in April.

The poll indicates that voters care about protecting elections following the contentious 2020 presidential race, when then-President Donald Trump falsely claimed that he was the real winner and alleged widespread fraud that was never found. Three vote counts, multiple investigations and court cases upheld Democrat Joe Biden’s 12,000-vote win in Georgia over Trump, a Republican.

Across the United States, recent surveys have found that voters list concerns about the future of democracy as one of their top issues, said Wendy Weiser, who directs the democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice, which advocates for voting rights policies.

“People really do see ... that democracy is on the ballot, and I think they do not want to have a country where they don’t trust their elections system, where it’s all disputed, where the state of our democracy is at issue,” Weiser said Tuesday during a conference call with reporters. “I view that as potentially a hopeful sign.”

The AJC poll found that voters gave lesser importance to other hot-button issues, including abortion and crime.

Overall, 20% of those surveyed said the cost of living was their most important issue, followed by threats to democracy at 17%, and jobs and the economy at 16%. About 7% of voters prioritized crime, and 5% listed abortion.

Concern about democracy broke along party lines, with liberal voters ranking it higher than conservative voters, according to the AJC poll.

Voters who identified themselves as liberals and moderates placed democracy as their No. 1 issue, but conservatives listed it lower, behind immigration, cost of living, and jobs and the economy.

The AJC poll of 861 likely voters was conducted by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs from Sept. 5 to Sept. 16. The poll has a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points.