Princeton, NJ -- In analysis covering the week of Election 2020, drawing from multiple and news sources as well as broad observations from monitors, Princeton’s Bridging Divides Initiative (BDI) finds a largely peaceful Election Day which suggests American systems and communities are more resilient than reported, despite real and continued stressors on the system. By using timely analysis and data, community leaders and organizations can continue to reinforce resilience and mitigate threats through this contentious electoral period. “Data-based analysis is critical in helping communities respond to emerging challenges,” said Shannon Hiller, Co-Director of Princeton University’s Bridging Divides Initiative. “Past patterns can be powerful clues to understanding what has happened, what may happen, and how to continue to build resilience even past this election period.”
“Data-based analysis is critical in helping communities respond to emerging challenges,” said Shannon Hiller, Co-Director of Princeton University’s Bridging Divides Initiative. “Past patterns can be powerful clues to understanding what has happened, what may happen, and how to continue to build resilience even past this election period.”
Even accounting for high profile events this past weekend in DC and other state capitals - which will have long term impacts on conflict dynamics - initial analysis indicates widespread attendance and organizing around Stop the Steal events may be waning from a highpoint on November 7. Through the remainder of the election process, BDI data analysis and reporting provides a picture of what towns and cities still have indicators linked to potential political violence. These indicators include hate group activity, a recent history of contentious events, and election management issues in areas as diverse as industrial cities in Michigan and rapidly changing rural counties in North Carolina.
Though nationwide confrontation between opposing groups has not materialized after the election, capital cities in particular are seeing higher rates of counter protest and armed attendance compared to protests in other cities, marking a shift from how specific groups mobilized in response to social justice and Covid-related issues throughout the summer. Other trends around car caravans, counter-protests, and militia-organizing persist, as unsubstantiated narratives around election fraud drive potential confrontation.
“The data tells an overall positive story about political activity on Election Day. We should celebrate the strength of our democracy and the resilience of our communities despite serious divisions and even threats,” said Nealin Parker, Co-Director of Princeton’s Bridging Divides Initiative. “We are now working towards an overall election that follows the same trend. While elements of this contentious election have precedence, many of these process benchmarks are coming into sharp relief for the public for the first time. Understanding the data helps bring down public anxiety, target resources to address higher areas of concern, and support local leaders in managing division and crisis through the whole of the election period.”
The Bridging Divides Initiative provides updates to a broad network of organizations including local elected officials, voter protection groups, and other researchers to mitigate political violence and help communities build stronger, more resilient connections. In the last week, local mediation centers have used the analysis to inform tried and true methods of de-escalation at events. And city planning officials have been engaged to view demonstrations as part of a holistic community outreach plan rather than solely through a security lens.
Hiller and Parker are available to provide reporters with the latest data updates. Both experts are actively briefing state and local officials including state officials, police departments, and civic groups on how to use the data to prevent election related violence.
Princeton Bridging Divides Initiative (BDI) works to make sure people can come together locally and fully participate in their democracy. BDI is a non-partisan, research initiative that exists to give people, at every level, current information about what is happening in their community and resources for solutions. BDI’s goal is to build a foundation of trust and cooperation in communities to bridge the divides facing the nation.