What voters agree on: Democracy is in danger

That chilling finding comes from a national exit poll conducted by Edison Research for several major news organizations.

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Former President Trump Holds Rally In Support Of Ohio Senate Candidate JD Vance

Supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump await his arrival at a rally for Ohio Republicans at the Dayton International Airport on November 7, 2022.

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About 7 in 10 voters in Tuesday’s election overwhelmingly agreed on one thing — that democracy in the U.S. is “very” or “somewhat” threatened.

That chilling finding comes from a national exit poll conducted by Edison Research for several major news organizations.

And if so many people are worried about the future of our democracy now — it’s only foreshadowing the stress test our nation will face when former President Donald Trump announces his 2024 White House bid, which he signaled could come as early as next week.

Even with so many voters sounding an alarm, it comes as Trump plans to run for president again against a sobering backdrop: In Illinois, and across the nation, there are emerging networks of people sympathetic to Trump’s authoritarianism that didn’t exist when he ran in 2016 and 2020.

During the primary, Democrats led by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, poured millions of dollars into a drive to mess with Republicans to make sure that Darren Bailey, an obscure state senator from downstate Xenia, was the GOP nominee, on the theory he would be the easiest to beat.

AP called the race for Pritzker — so who can fault the strategy of picking your opponent?

But the unintended byproduct of setting up Bailey as the nominee is that a Trump loyalist is now the de facto leader of Republicans in Illinois.

One of Pritzker’s ads used a sound bite from Bailey saying how he would roll out the red carpet for Trump. And to that you could almost hear the Illinois Trumpers — led by Bailey and Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., say “Amen.”

The remnants of the GOP establishment in Illinois have been too cowardly to speak up clearly against the election denialism and conspiracy theories that are at the heart of what threatens our democracy.

Trump’s danger to democracy — that is, trying to destroy voter confidence in elections — was on display Tuesday when he planted seeds of doubt about the 2022 results, writing on his Truth Social account, according to CNN, “Same thing is happening with Voter Fraud as happened in 2020???”

No major Republican from Illinois ever defended Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., in a clear, public statement, when he was only speaking truth to power about the corrosive events leading to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and the role Trump played in trying to overturn the 2020 election.

Kinzinger, from Channahon, a member of the Jan. 6 committee, did not seek reelection, given how the Democrats in Springfield carved up his district in the remap — and how impossible it was going to be to survive a primary because the Republicans in Illinois never mustered support for Kinzinger, dropping him when he decided that the most important thing was to preserve our democracy.

Inflation, abortion key issues

The exit poll also found a wide gap between Democrats and Republicans when it came to the key issues.

About 47% of Republicans said inflation was their most important issue, followed by immigration, at 14%, crime, 13%, abortion, 11% and gun policy, 8%.

Some 44% of Democrats said abortion was their most important issue, followed by gun policy, at 15% inflation at 15%, crime, 11% and immigration, 6%.

Overall, about 60% of all respondents said abortion should be legal in all or most cases — and 60% were angry or dissatisfied that Roe vs. Wade was overturned.

In Illinois, Democrats up and down the ticket made their support for abortion rights a centerpiece of their political messaging, especially in the races for the two Illinois Supreme Court seats in play.

Sticking with the abortion rights issue was crucial to motivate the Democratic base vote. But as inflation soared these past months, pocketbook issues jumped in importance. But Democrats in Illinois, to the end, considered abortion a winning issue for them, even though for now, Illinois is a safe haven for abortion rights — but maybe not forever, depending on how those Supreme Court races turn out.

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