FILE - People turn to face a U.S. flag during the playing of the national anthem before U.S. President Donald Trump rallies with supporters during a Make America Great Again rally in Southaven, Mississippi, U.S. Oct. 2, 2018.
FILE - People turn to face a U.S. flag during the playing of the national anthem before U.S. President Donald Trump rallies with supporters during a Make America Great Again rally in Southaven, Mississippi, U.S. Oct. 2, 2018.

A fact-checking site has verified claims circulating on the Internet that the United States has fallen in a ranking of world's strongest democracies.

Snopes.com issued the verification Friday, supporting an internet claim by a group called The Christian Left that "the USA has dropped off the list of the 20 most democratic countries in the world." It cited an annual ranking by The Economist magazine, which has been evaluating the world's governments on type and strength since 2006.

The Economist's most recent Democracy Index, its 2017 evaluation issued in January 2018, showed that the United States had for the second year been ranked as a "flawed democracy" rather than "full democracy." The magazine said the fall in ranking was based on such factors as citizen participation in the electoral process, functioning of government and civil liberties.

The United States' ranking was stated somewhat incorrectly in The Christian Left's claim circulating on social media. The United States was one of 20 nations in the world ranked as having a full democracy, until it fell to "flawed democracy" status. There are now only 19 nations on the list that The Economist ranks as full democracies.

The publishers of the index say the drop in U.S. ranking is consistent with the stagnation of democratic progress around the world. It said 89 countries experienced a decline in their total score on the democracy index from 2016 to 2017, while only 27 countries recorded an improvement. The Economist called it the worst performance since 2010-11, when countries struggled in the aftermath of the global economic and financial crisis.