Bright Line Watch June/July 2023 Survey Report

July 28, 2023

A figure showing public attitudes towards legal investigations of former President Trump.

Bright Line Watch reports findings from its June and July 2023 surveys.  They find stark partisan divisions in attitudes towards the legal investigations and prosecutions of former President Trump, the legitimacy of the 2020 election, and the January 6 insurrection.  They also find that experts are increasingly sanguine about about the future of American democracy.

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Helmke Profiled in La Nacion

February 2, 2023

Palacio de Justicia in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Gretchen Helmke, Faculty Director of the Democracy Center and Jackson University Professor in the Department of Political Science, is profiled in a new article in Argenitinian newspaper La Nacion.  The article tells the story of Helmke's pioneering contributions to the study of the interaction between judicial institutions and democractic politics.

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Bright Line Watch Assesses American Democracy in Light of the 2022 Midterm Elections

December 5, 2022

U.S. Capitol Dome at sunrise

A post-2022-midterm survey by Bright Line Watch shows higher public confidence in the health of US democracy than a similar survey conducted before the elections. The rise in confidence was especially notable among Republicans who responded to the survey, despite worse-than-expected results for many GOP candidates. “I am heartened by the fact that those red lines for Republicans are not tilting downward the way they did in 2020 before and after the election when we saw a real decline in Republican confidence,” says Bright Line Watch cofounder Gretchen Helmke who is the Thomas H. Jackson Distinguished University Professor and the faculty director of the Democracy Center at the University of Rochester.

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Gamm, Helmke and Johnson Discuss 2022 Midterms

November 3, 2022

A graphic of raised red and blue hands with a line of white stars across the bottom.

Democracy Center Faculty Affiliates Gerald Gamm and Gretchen Helmke and Professor of Political Science James Johnson featured in a University of Rochester News Center discussion about the 2022 U.S. Midterm Elections and the state of U.S. Democracy. Drawing on cutting-edge research in political science, and each of their distinct perspectives on the subject, Gamm, Helmke and Johnson clarified the stakes of the 2022 elections for U.S. Democracy and explained their historical and global context.

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Threats to Judicial Independence

August 17, 2022

Headshot of Gretchen Helmke.

Democracy Center Faculty Director Gretchen Helmke was quoted in an Associated Press story about threats of violence against federal judges by supporters of former president Trump. Helmke explained that "[a] popularly elected leader targeting a judiciary is often one early indicator of democratic erosion." She also warned that public trust in the judiciary is a pre-condition for judicial independence, and pointed to examples of weak democracies where a lack of public confidence in courts has enabled politicians to manipulate the judicial process and undermine the rule of law.

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Minority Voting After the Shelby Decision

July 22, 2022

Headshot of Mayya Komisarchik.

Democracy Center Faculty Affiliate Mayya Komisarchik recently appeared on the Not Another Politics Podcast to discuss the effects of the recent U.S. Supreme Court Shelby decision, which weakened provisions of the Voting Rights Act, on voter turnout in communities of color. Professor Komisarchik discussed findings from her working paper "Throwing Away the Umbrella: Minority Voting after the Supreme Court's Shelby Decision," which investigates the effects of Shelby on Black and Hispanic voter registration and the mechanisms driving those effects.

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