Ruy Teixeira questions a key pillar of President Biden’s re-election campaign.

Naturally, the Biden campaign will seek to put a number of messages into play where they feel they have an advantage. But numerous reports indicate that, above all, they believe emphasizing threats to democracy will the key to victory. …

… There are grounds for, to put it gently, considerable skepticism here. Let’s take a look at the data.

1. To begin with, preserving/defending/whatever democracy persistently trails the economy/inflation as the issue voters think is most important, even when the democracy issue is specifically mentioned as part of a list.

2. And when respondents’ most important issue is solicited in an open-ended format, where respondents give an unprompted, top-of-mind answer, democracy simply does not rate very high. In the most recent Gallup poll, only 4 percent fall into a bucket they term “elections/election reform/democracy.” This vastly trails key economic problems, immigration, etc.

3. Even more recently, the new New York Times/Siena poll finds just 5 percent of voters (3 percent of working-class voters) saying “the state of democracy/corruption” will be the most important issue in deciding on their November vote, again substantially trailing the same set of issues. In an interesting followup, the poll asked voters who they thought could do a better job of handling whatever issue they designated as most important. By 14 points (24 points among the working class), voters thought Trump could do a better job than Biden of handling that issue.

4. Further undercutting the Biden campaign theory, an earlier New York Times poll asked voters what was the one thing they remembered most from Trump’s presidency; that most definitely was not January 6th. Just 5 percent mentioned it, again dwarfed by other events and trends.

5. And, as John Sides has pointed out, Biden’s victory over Trump in 2020 was not attributable to running on democracy or anything like that. Campaign messages and advertisements focused instead on the economy, the pandemic, health care and other less abstract issues.