Bright Line Watch survey questions, March 2019

How important are these char­ac­ter­is­tics for demo­c­ra­t­ic government?

  • Not relevant. This has no impact on democracy
  • This enhances democracy, but is not required for democracy
  • If this is absent, democracy is compromised
  • A country cannot be con­sid­ered demo­c­ra­t­ic without this

How well do the following state­ments describe the United States as of today?

  • The U.S. does not meet this standard
  • The U.S. partly meets this standard
  • The U.S. mostly meets this standard
  • The U.S fully meets this standard

1.  Elections are conducted, ballots counted, and winners deter­mined without pervasive fraud or manipulation
2.  All adult citizens have equal oppor­tu­ni­ty to vote
3.  Voter par­tic­i­pa­tion in elections is generally high
4.  Elections are free from foreign influence
5.  The geo­graph­ic bound­aries of electoral districts do not sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly advantage any par­tic­u­lar political party
6.  All votes have equal impact on election outcomes
7.  Parties and can­di­dates are not barred due to their political beliefs and ideologies
8.  All adult citizens enjoy the same legal and political rights
9.  Government does not interfere with jour­nal­ists or news organizations
10.  Government effec­tive­ly prevents private actors from engaging in polit­i­cal­ly-motivated violence or intimidation
11.  Government protects indi­vid­u­als’ right to engage in unpopular speech or expression
12.  Government protects indi­vid­u­als’ right to engage in peaceful protest
13.  Government officials are legally sanc­tioned for misconduct
14.  Government officials do not use public office for private gain
15.  Government agencies are not used to monitor, attack, or punish political opponents
16.  Even when there are dis­agree­ments about ideology or policy, political leaders generally share a common under­stand­ing of relevant facts
17.  Executive authority cannot be expanded beyond con­sti­tu­tion­al limits
18.  The leg­is­la­ture is able to effec­tive­ly limit executive power
19.  The judiciary is able to effec­tive­ly limit executive power
20.  The elected branches respect judicial independence
21.  Elected officials seek com­pro­mise with political opponents
22.  Political com­pe­ti­tion occurs without criticism of opponents’ loyalty or patriotism
23.  Information about the sources of campaign funding is available to the public
24.  Public policy is not deter­mined by large campaign contributions
25.  Citizens can make their opinions heard in open debate about policies that are under consideration
26.  Citizens have access to infor­ma­tion about can­di­dates that is relevant to how they would govern
27.  Law enforce­ment inves­ti­ga­tions of public officials or their asso­ciates are free from political influence or interference

These questions about topical issues and events build on a similar survey conducted by the New York Times Upshot blog in 2017, on which we collaborated.

Is this normal or abnormal?

  • Normal
  • Mostly normal
  • Borderline normal
  • Mostly abnormal
  • Abnormal

Is this unim­por­tant or important?

  • Unimportant
  • Mostly unim­por­tant
  • Semi-important
  • Mostly important
  • Important

1. Sean Spicer exag­ger­at­ing the crowd size at President Trump’s inauguration.
2. President Trump leaving the position of director of the Office of Science Technology and Policy vacant for 19 months.
3. President Trump and his aides dis­cussing highly sensitive papers in public at Mar-a-Lago.
4. President Trump presiding over the longest gov­ern­ment shutdown ever.
5. President Trump saying the Soviets were justified in invading Afghanistan in 1979.
6. President Trump attempt­ing to revoke the press cre­den­tials of CNN’s Jim Acosta and deny him access to White House.
7. President Trump tweeting that he has the absolute right to pardon himself.
8. President Trump publicly crit­i­ciz­ing NFL athletes who took a knee during the national anthem on live tele­vi­sion to protest the treatment of people of color by police and the criminal justice system.
9. President Trump refusing to release his tax returns.
10. President Trump defending par­tic­i­pants in a white nation­al­ist rally in Charlottesville, VA, saying there were “very fine people on both sides.”
11. Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigning at the request of President Trump.
12. President Trump visiting California to tour the dev­as­ta­tion caused by wildfires.
13. President Trump calling Saudi Arabia an ally in the wake of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.
14. President Trump retweet­ing an image calling for his political opponents to be impris­oned for treason.
15. President Trump canceling a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Moscow’s capture of Ukrainian ships and sailors.
16. President Trump signing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) along with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
17. Michael Cohen pleading guilty to lying to Congress in relation to the Mueller Russian investigation.
18. The Supreme Court ruling that the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is allowed to limit military service by trans­gen­der people.
19. President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attending the funeral of former president George H.W. Bush.
20. President Trump announc­ing that US troops will be returned from Syria without con­sult­ing with his aides, officials, or allies.
21. President Trump taking calls in the White House for the NORAD Santa Tracker and ques­tion­ing a seven-year-old’s belief in Santa.
22. James Mattis resigning as the Secretary of Defense.
23. President Trump post­pon­ing Nancy Pelosi’s planned trips to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan by with­draw­ing per­mis­sion for the Speaker of the House to use US military aircraft.
24. President Trump deploying thousands of troops to the southern US border as midterm elections approach.
25. Nancy Pelosi uninvit­ing President Trump from deliv­er­ing his State of the Union in Congress until the gov­ern­ment shutdown is over.
26. President Trump calling the press an “enemy of the people.”
27. President Trump declaring a national emergency to secure funding for his border wall.