DEMOCRACY AMID CRISES: Polarization, Pandemic, Protests, and Persuasion

The Annenberg IOD Collaborative

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Among the more fraught election years in recent history, 2020 transpired amid four interlaced crises: the COVID-19 pandemic, an economic recession and uneven recovery, a racial reckoning, and a crisis of democratic legitimacy that culminated in the riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and widespread belief among Republicans that the election had been stolen from Donald Trump. Democracy amid Crises explains how these forces and the media messaging through which they were filtered shaped the election and post-election dialogue, as well as voter perceptions of both, with worrisome potential consequences for democracy. The book spotlights not one but several electorates, each embedded in a distinctive informational environment. The four crises affected these electorates differently, partly because the unique constellations of media in which they were advertently and inadvertently enmeshed contained dissimilar messages from the campaigns and other sources of influence. Awash in distinctive message streams, the various electorates adopted divergent perspectives on the crises, candidates, and state of the country. As a result, understanding voting behavior and attitudes about the events that followed requires an analysis of both the distinctive electorates and the informational environments that enveloped them. Importantly, our findings raise fundamental questions about the nation’s future, occasioned by the contest over whether the 2020 presidential election was fairly and freely decided and by worrisome responses to the reality that the country’s citizenry is becoming more multiracial, multiethnic, and, on matters religious, agnostic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages470
ISBN (Electronic)9780197644690
ISBN (Print)9780197644706
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • 2020 election
  • Biden
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Trump
  • conspiracy theory
  • economic voting
  • electoral legitimacy
  • law and order
  • protest
  • voter fraud

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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