Experts worry that de facto single-person regimes in previous multiparty states (Russia, Turkey, Venezuela) and norm-defiance in existing democracies (Brazil, Hungary, the United States) signal a coming authoritarian age. Without examining the broader record, however, it is hard to know whether such tremors presage a global convulsion. A century's worth of evidence (1920–2019) shows that contemporary democracies are sturdier than they look. Above all, high levels of economic development continue to sustain multipartism; OECD democracies have faced less risk than often intimated. Further, competition among political parties, regardless of national affluence, contains a momentum that even the most willful demagogues have had trouble stopping. These economic and institutional bulwarks help explain why democratic backsliding, which seems so portentous, has preceded democratic survival more often than breakdown. Even as executive aggrandizement and rancorous partisanship roil the world's most venerable democracies, they are unlikely to produce new autocracies absent permissive material conditions.