Biden’s ‘Democracy’ Speech Contained One Big Mistake That Could Cost Democrats the Election

President Biden said in his speech Wednesday night that an “overwhelming majority of Americans’ believe next week’s elections are about saving “democracy itself” from “extreme MAGA Republicans.” But that’s not what polls have shown.


Democrats are about to find out whom voters see as the real threat to democracy.


Speaking from Union Station in Washington, D.C., Biden repeated a warning that he has delivered many times before: The rise of election-denying Republicans means that “democracy is on the ballot” in the midterms.

“I’m not the only one who sees it,” Biden said, referring also to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, a recent attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband and a general “rise in political violence and voter intimidation.”

  • “Recent polls have shown an overwhelming majority of Americans believe our democracy is at risk, that our democracy is under threat,” he added. “They too see that democracy is on the ballot this year, and they’re deeply concerned about it.”
  • Polling has in fact consistently found that Americans fear for the future of U.S. democracy.


Contra Biden, however, the state of democracy has not been a top concern for voters — who have indicated they see any threats to their rights very differently from the Democratic Party-mainstream media consensus.

  • According to a New York Times/Siena College poll last month, 74% of registered voters agree that democracy is “under threat,” but just 7% rank it as the country’s biggest problem.
  • Only about 17% of voters describe the threat as related to former President Donald Trump, political violence, election denial, authoritarianism and the like.

So what’s the thread?: “Instead, [voters] point most frequently to a longstanding concern about the basic functioning of a democratic system: whether government works on behalf of the people,” Times chief political analyst Nate Cohn wrote of the poll.

  • 13% volunteer that the government is the threat to democracy, followed by Trump (10%), national divisions (9%), Democrats (6%), Biden (6%) and Republicans (5%).
  • 59% of voters agree the media is a “major threat” to democracy, the poll found, much more than say that about any other political institution the Times asked about, including Trump (47%) or Republicans (30%).


While some Democrats and media commentators praised Biden’s speech as a necessary rallying cry, others worried aloud that the president is playing into GOP criticism of his party as out of touch with the concerns of most voters.

  • “Issues of democracy are hugely important at this moment and in next week’s election. Totally appropriate for [Biden] to address them,” tweeted David Axelrod, a senior presidential advisor to Barack Obama. “Still, as a matter of practical politics, I doubt many Ds in marginal races are eager for him to be on TV tonight.”
  • Joseph Geevarghese, executive director of the progressive group Our Revolution, told Semafor that Biden is “missing the opportunity to talk about the real threat to democracy, which is people’s deteriorating standard of living. … At the end of the day, the No. 1 thing that people are concerned about is whether they can put food on the table, whether they can keep a roof over their heads.”