One of the greatest threats to democracy is the idea that it is unassailable.

At a time of potential danger to American demo­c­ra­t­ic norms and insti­tu­tions, it is more urgent than ever for scholars to highlight the risks to our system of gov­ern­ment. In this spirit, Bright Line Watch brings together a group of political sci­en­tists to monitor demo­c­ra­t­ic practices, their resilience, and potential threats.

Featured report

From Convictions to Elections: U.S. Democracy Amid Legal Turmoil

In most pres­i­den­tial election years, late spring and early summer provide a rel­a­tive­ly quiet interlude between primary season and the party con­ven­tions. This year, however, the con­vic­tion of former President Donald Trump on 34 felony counts and a series of landmark Supreme Court decisions could reshape both the upcoming election and American democracy itself. In this context, we fielded parallel surveys of 557 political sci­en­tists from June 20–30, 2024 and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive sample of 2,775 Americans from June 20–27. Given the impor­tance of precisely measuring GOP per­cep­tions of topics such as the 2020 election and pros­e­cu­tions of Trump, the public survey included an over­sam­ple of Republicans. It is, however, weighted to be rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the American public as a whole.

July 2024

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Bright Line Watch in the media

How House Republicans and Fox teed up a major threat to democracy
by Philip Bump at The Washington Post, 7/11/2024

‘The Supreme Court gets the stakes of pres­i­den­tial immunity backward
by Philip Bump at The Washington Post, 7/01/2024

Why Voters Are Worried About Democracy, In Their Own Words by FiveThirtyEight Politics, 5/16/2024

Trump says some migrants are ‘not people’ and warns of a ‘bloodbath’ if he loses by NPR, 3/17/2024






Trump’s Threat to Democracy Is Now Systemic
by Ronald Brownstein at The Atlantic, 8/02/2023

Trump indict­ment over 2020 election is shocking, but may come without political con­se­quences
by David Schribman at The Globe and Mail, 8/02/2023

Public Opinion About Trump’s Criminality Is Shifting—a Bit
by John Cassidy at The New Yorker, 7/31/2023

Liars lose and deniers are denied. In the midterms, democracy comes out ahead by Mark Z. Barabak at Los Angeles Times, 11/22/2022 


Bright Line Watch is grateful for funding from these organizations

William & Flora Hewlett Foundation