Which countries do Americans think are democracies?

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
February 16, 2023, 2:58 AM GMT+0

Of a group of nearly 20 countries, Americans are most likely to consider the United States and the United Kingdom as democracies and the least likely to consider Syria and Iran as such, according to new polling by the Economist and YouGov.

Majorities of Americans agree that the U.S. (70%) and the UK (59%) are democracies. There are some doubters, however: 15% of people say the U.S. is not a democracy and 16% say the UK is not.

About half of people — 48% — say that Ukraine is a democracy, more than say that about some other countries which have been holding elections for decades, such as Taiwan (39% say it is a democracy), Mexico (38%), Brazil (34%), India (33%), and the Philippines (33%). Just 11% of Americans believe Russia is a democracy; 12% think China is. The smallest shares see Saudi Arabia (10%), Syria (8%), and Iran (7%) as democracies.

With some exceptions, Democrats and Republicans have similar views on which of the countries asked about are democracies. The largest differences are on Ukraine and the U.S., which Democrats are 14 and 10 percentage points more likely than Republicans to think of as democracies, respectively. Independents are even less likely than Republicans to view these two countries as democracies. Hungary is 8 points more likely to be seen as a democracy among Republicans than among Democrats.

— Carl Bialik and Linley Sanders contributed to this article

See the toplines and crosstabs from the Economist/YouGov poll conducted on February 11 - 14, 2023 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens.

Methodology: Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to June 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (34% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Adobe Stock (BPawesome)