Democrats and Republicans equally willing to stick with candidate who breaks democratic norms, study finds

U.S. capitol.
(Image credit: Al Drago/Getty Images)

About 3.5 percent of Americans would defect from their favorite political candidate if that person does something that breaks democratic norms, a new study published in the American Political Science Review from Yale University's Matthew Graham and Milan Svolik found. That's a pretty small amount for a country where the traditional answer to the question of whether democracy is a good thing is almost certainly a yes, Svolik told The Atlantic.

Graham and Svolik achieved their results after asking 1,691 people if they would turn on a democracy-bashing candidate they otherwise found to represent their own opinions on most political matters, but the 3.5 percent figure, it turns out, is actually backed by a real-life example, as well. In 2017, a day before Montana's congressional election, Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mt.) assaulted a journalist after growing irritated with his questioning. Voters who took to the polls the next day would likely have been aware of the incident, while those who mailed in their ballots would have done so before the anti-democratic action took place, The Atlantic notes. Gianforte, who won the election, received about 3.6 percent fewer in-person votes, which is right in line with the Yale study.

The responses in the Yale study were not partisan, however. Moderates, on both the left and right, were most likely to turn on candidates in equal measure, while Democrats and Republicans were equally willing to ignore anti-Democratic actions, Svolik said. Read more at The Atlantic.

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Tim O'Donnell

Tim is a staff writer at The Week and has contributed to Bedford and Bowery and The New York Transatlantic. He is a graduate of Occidental College and NYU's journalism school. Tim enjoys writing about baseball, Europe, and extinct megafauna. He lives in New York City.