Voter survey shows major concerns about our republic heading into midterms

We launched the Main Street Agenda over the Fourth of July with a simple question, “What do you want candidates to talk about as they compete for your vote this fall?”

The timing was fitting given that Independence Day is when we celebrate and reflect on our nation’s bold experiment in self-governance. To date, more than 1,900 people have completed the survey. There is still time to make your voice heard in the Main Street Agenda questionnaire (

The No. 1 issue that concerns residents the most is the future of our democracy followed by climate change and gun policies. The concern about democracy was overwhelming, with 44 percent of survey respondents listing it as their No. 1 issue. No other issue came close. The survey is not a scientific poll, and its results cannot be generalized to the entire population of Wisconsin, but the responses do provide a snapshot and indicate that people are worried about the health of our Republic.

Concern over the future of democracy isn’t unique to Wisconsin. News organizations across the nation today are sounding the alarm and raising awareness in a Democracy Day campaign. Listening and amplifying the voices of voters is a simple, but powerful way to support democracy.

While it is unsettling to have so many worried about democracy itself, the hundreds of comments respondents left explaining their rankings are a far cry from the hopelessly polarized and combative stereotype of voters sometimes portrayed. Quite the contrary, it showed folks to be thoughtful, engaged and frustrated by the state of politics:

“Democracy is definitely on the ballot and currently in trouble,” said a voter who identified himself as an Independent from Madison.