Announcing Daily Version of Authoritarian Warning Survey
We're excited to announce that we're shifting to a daily-updated version of the Authoritarian Warning Survey. Our goal is to provide a live index of how democracy scholars are reacting to threats to American democracy and current events. Since July 25 and continuing through today, we survey random sub-samples of our experts every weekday and update our scores continuously as responses come in. We are partnering with the non-partisan group United to Protect Democracy on a website (coming soon) that will showcase the current survey scores.
We continue to ask about six major sub-components of threats to American democracy. We also collapse this into a single Democracy Threat Index (0-100). For each measure, we construct weighted averages, with more recent responses getting greater weight. We also continuously test for sharp breaks in reported threats in response to major events. For more on the survey methodology, see here. For more on how we construct the weighted averages, see here.
As a first glimpse of the daily results, the figure above shows the weighted average of Civil Violence threat each day since July 25. This is scaled from 0-100. The date of the Charlottesville violence is marked, with Trump's much-maligned comments following over the next few days. We can see a clear shift up in Civil Violence threat since Charlottesville, with the weighted average roughly doubling over the next two weeks. This places the United States on par with Hungary and higher than Poland on Civil Violence. However, this actually underplays how much of a shift there's been since the weighted average factors in past responses. The average Civil Violence rating after Charlottesville is 34.5, increasing the threat by a factor of three.
The next figure shows the Democracy Threat Index for each day since July 25. This combines the six sub-components into a single summary index, also scaled from 0-100. Here, we see a more steady rise since late July, with much less of a turning point around Charlottesville. The weighted average as of today places the United States just above Poland and India on threats to democracy.
We plan to continue updating our daily survey indefinitely. In addition to displaying the daily survey at the coming website, we will keep analyzing the data in monthly updates and around major events. Stay tuned for more.
Michael K. Miller is an Associate Professor of Political Science at George Washington University.