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Americans Still Have Very Little Faith in Their Fellow Voters

Friday, May 29, 2015

An overwhelming majority of U.S. voters think voters in democratic countries have a responsibility to stay informed, but most say that’s not the reality in America.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 91% of Likely U.S. Voters think voters in countries with democratically elected governments have a responsibility to be informed about major policy issues. Just three percent (3%) disagree. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

But only 11% feel most Americans are informed voters. Eighty-one percent (81%) think most are not.

Findings for both questions are little changed from a year ago. In 2013, just 12% of Americans thought most of their follow citizens were informed voters, while 73% believed most of them voted chiefly based on their emotions instead.

Voters still turn to TV over the Internet when it comes to political news, but the gap is narrowing. Most voters, however, doubt the accuracy of political news coverage and think most reporters will slant their coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign.

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The survey of 950 Likely Voters was conducted on May 25-26, 2015 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Most voters (55%) say the United States is more democratic than most other nations, and 61% still believe their vote really matters. But most also think voters in this country do not have enough say when it comes to choosing their leaders.

Large majorities across the demographic spectrum agree that voters in democracies have a responsibility to stay informed and that most American voters aren’t.

Twenty percent (20%) of Democrats believe most Americans are informed voters, but only seven percent (7%) of both Republicans and voters not affiliated with either major political party agree.

Men are more likely than women to think most Americans are informed voters.

The more education a voter has received, the more likely he or she is to think Americans are not informed voters.

Some have suggested making voting mandatory in the United States to raise turnout and create “a more moderate and more representative electorate.” But voters strongly reject that idea.

Twenty-eight percent (28%) of all voters say it is too easy to vote in America today. Eighteen percent (18%) think it’s too hard to vote, while 49% rate the level of difficulty as about right. But voters are more confident in the fairness of U.S. elections than they have been in over two years.

A sizable number, including most Democrats, now believe that illegal immigrants should be allowed to vote if they can prove they live in this country and pay taxes.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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To learn more about our methodology, click here.