Faced with far-reaching restrictions on civil liberties to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, political observers have pointed out the value of democratic rights and how democratic principles must be upheld even (or especially) in times of crisis. While there is broad consensus on the value of democracy, in the real world, autocratic forms of rule are prospering. Not only have autocratic rulers in countries like Russia or China managed to consolidate their power; autocracies are also once again competing with Western liberal democracies for economic as well as military supremacy. While political science has grappled with the democracy vs. autocracy conundrum for years, we still know little about how citizens, arguably the most important arbiters in this game, view the “battle of regimes.” How do democracies and autocracies fare in the eyes of their citizens? Do they actually care whether they live in a democracy, or can they be just as content living under autocratic rule – and why could that be the case?