I just discovered DataforProgress today when comparing housing plans between Warren, Booker, and Harris (who all get plaudits for having a housing plan-every Democrat running for president should!). It’s an awesome website with a lot of data about progressive politics. Another great section is voter survey data, particularly looking at whom the Democrats should target and what issues they should push. This one looked at several subsets of voters across three election cycles. 2012, 2016, and 2018. To save time skip the Weeds and go to Takeaways.
The split had loyal partisans split into Obama-Clinton-Dem and Romney-Trump-Dem control groups. The median switchers were Obama-Trump-Dem, Obama-Trump-Rep, Romney-Clinton-Dem, and Romney-Trump-Dem. A few interesting trends emerge, and I recommend reading the entire thing.
There are actually more Romney-Trump-Dem voters than Obama-Trump-Rep voters or even Romney-Clinton-Dem voters. This is a good sign, it means that more economically conservative and socially moderate voters are coming into the Democratic tent. 30% of Obama-Trump voters overall are Obama-Trump-Dem voters, indicating that the right appeal can win back some of the ‘deplorables’, something I have constantly harped on here. That said, Tom and other critics of this strategy are also right-there is a far higher number of Obama-Trump voters who have become Obama-Trump-Rep voters (70%).
The segmentation makes it quite clear that these voters become more Republican as the Democratic party becomes more racially progressive and the GOP becomes more white nationalist. We all have to acknowledge the reality that up to 70% of the Obama-Trump voters are never coming back due to a combination of sexism or racism. Yet 30% still are, almost 2.5 million voters. We should not dismiss them out of hand.
What do all of these voters like? They actually love the Green New Deal, they actually love price controls on drugs and government produce generics, they love taxing pollution and progressive plans to make college more affordable. They like government jobs programs. A wide majority support campaign finance reform and taxing the wealthy. A wide majority identify as economic populists. A wide majority support expanded gay rights and legalizing marijuana.
What they dislike is abolishing ICE by wide margins. They dislike Medicare for All by a slim margin. They dislike gun control overall (though the Romney-Trump-Dem and Romney-Clinton-Dem favor it by a small majority). They are uncomfortable with trans rights and gender identity issues overall.
An agenda centered around reducing health care costs, reducing housing costs, creating better paying jobs, taxing the wealthy, getting money out of politics, legalizing marijuana, and solving climate change is an electable agenda. One that appeals to our bases top priorities and a broad cross section of the modern swing voter (who admittedly is all over the place).
So A lot of interesting results. I’ve been bearish on Warren, but her policy mix seems to do better with these voters than a more lefty candidate (bernie) or a more centrist candidate (the rest of the field). Even if she is not the nominee, the nominee should just steal all her ideas.
Also climate change, pot legalization, and economic populism are winners in all key subgroups (Romney-Clinton-Dem 18, Romney-Trump-Dem 18, Obama-Trump-Dem 18). Gun control and immigration liberalization are losers (as I suspected). Also there are more Romney-Trump-Dem voters than either Romney-Clinton-Dem or Obama-Trump-Dem. The latter being a lot smaller than I thought compared to Obama-Trump-Rep.
The survey has a very small sample size and did not ask questions about foreign policy or abortion. It also did not ask about specific candidates. I have long thought that Warrens policy message is far more popular than the messenger, which is an interesting and complex dynamic. My big takeaways is that a retreat back to centrism on economics is a huge mistake. I was wrong (sorry Charley!) that climate is irrelevant to these voters. I was wrong that the split of redeemable/irredeemable in Obama/Trump voters was 50/50. Tom was wrong its 0/100. It’s 30/70 and we should be all be more reality based about that. Check it out for yourself and see what your takeaways are.