During a town hall event last week, Fox News’ Sean Hannity gave Donald Trump the opportunity to confirm that the former president does not intend to abuse his powers if re-elected to the White House next year. But Trump refused to deny the possibility — at least for “day one” of his term, vowing to use his presidential powers to close the southern border with Mexico and expand oil drilling.

Trump’s response triggered a new wave of media commentary warning that a second Trump presidency could set the United States on the path to autocracy. These claims that US allies should prepare for the worst have only grown as Trump sketches out his second term agenda, comparing his rivals to “vermin” and promising to seek retribution by purging the federal bureaucracy of disloyal civil servants and using the Department of Justice to prosecute his opponents. 

Biden’s campaign has seized on Trump’s recent comments to bolster the claim that the top Republican contender poses an existential threat to the country's system of government. 

Yet USSC polling suggests that the American public are not growing more worried that their centuries-long democracy is under threat.

A sizeable majority of Americans (82 per cent) continue to say that they are a little or very concerned about the way their democracy is working. However, their views of US politics remain largely unchanged since 2022 and, if anything, Americans are less concerned about US democracy than they were a year ago.

Polled in September 2022, just before the midterm elections, almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of Americans reported being very concerned about the way democracy is working in the United States. Asked the same question twelve months later, the number has dropped by 10 percentage points, to just over half of Americans (54 per cent). Strikingly, the greatest shift occurred among Biden voters, who now hold a brighter perspective compared to in 2022: 14 percentage points less now say they are very concerned about how US democracy is working.

As Biden’s campaign continues to sound the alarm on Trump, the president is communicating his message to an American public that may be concerned, but is increasingly optimistic, about the state of US democracy.

A version of this article was first published in the weekly newsletter 'The 46th'. Subscribe to The 46th here.