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Battleground Surveys
Will Democrats be brave enough to get to the bluest wave?
Tuesday, September 25 2018

The most competitive battleground states are breaking against President Trump and the congressional Republicans, millennials are showing signs of life, disaffected Republicans are fracturing, and voters are angry about corrupt deals for wealthy corporate donors and self-dealing politicians. Something new and fundamental is happening, but will Democrats do what they must to win this election in a way that produces the biggest wave possible? If progressives crystalize the frustration with corruption into a powerful closing critique of out of touch Republicans, then they can push their advantage to its most politically destructive potential. This is according to the third wave of WVWVAF’s battleground research program conducted by Democracy Corps in 12 states with competitive races for governor, including 10 competitive Senate races and 42 competitive Cook congressional races.

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READ THE REPORT

VIEW THE PRESENTATION

VIEW THE PHONE & PANEL TOPLINES

 
Trump & GOP Strategy Make Blue Wave More Likely
Friday, July 13 2018

Pundits built a new conventional wisdom that included higher job approval ratings for President Donald Trump due to the tax cuts and strong economy that could shrink the enthusiasm advantage and midterm vote for Democrats. But they are wrong about the political trends, the economy, and what motivates Democrats. They miss how the GOP strategy branded Trump and the GOP as only out for themselves and the rich. This is according to the second of three waves of WVWVAF’s battleground research program conducted by Democracy Corps. This program consists of phone polling among registered voters and an on-going web-panel of 1,813 target voters – the Rising American Electorate of minorities, millennials, and unmarried women, plus white working class women – in 12 states with competitive races for governor, Senate, and Congress, including 42 Cook competitive seats. The same web-panel respondents were interviewed in April and late June, so these reported trends we know to be true.

READ THE FULL MEMO.

VIEW THE PRESENTATION.

 
New Message Platform for 2018’s Key Battlegrounds: report from phone survey & web-panel in the 12-state battleground
Thursday, May 03 2018

Democrats sit at the edge of a landslide repudiation of President Trump and Republicans – in the Congress and states where they govern – in November. This is according to the first of three waves of a phone survey (conducted mostly on cell-phones) of registered voters and a coordinated on-going web-panel of more than 3,100 target voters in 12 states that include 12 Governor races, 10 Senate races, and 18 races in DCCC battleground districts. This suite of research provides clear guidance for progressive domination in these battlegrounds: take away the GOP’s presumed strengths – the state of the macro-economy and the new Republican tax cut – and make the most of their weaknesses on key issues that go to the heart of the case against Republican Trump-ism.

  • First, Democrats must appeal to the large majority of voters struggling with wages that don’t keep up with rising costs, particularly the cost of health care. Trump and the Republicans promised to reduce these costs but supported policies with the opposite effect. 
  • Second, they should embrace an evolved economic message that insists on better from politicians than the short-term spending spree for the top one percent that endangers Social Security and Medicare and the short-sighted cuts to education and health care. (It is notable that this new message out-performed the “rigged” economic message that performed best up until now).
  • Third, they should join the students of Parkland and attack Republicans for failing to act on gun control, which has become a top voting issue, particularly for millennials.  

African Americans are already performing higher on turnout measures in this poll, but this message framework and the attacks on health care costs and gun-control significantly increase the number of high turnout voters among Hispanics, millennials and unmarried women as well.

 
Focus groups find early breakthrough moment in off-years
Thursday, April 13 2017
Attachments:
Download this file (Dcor_March FG_Press Teaser_4.11.2017_FOR DISTRIBUTION.pdf)Key Findings[ ]254 Kb
Download this file (Dcor_WV_March FG_Full Public Memo_4.13.2017_FINAL.pdf)Full Report[ ]623 Kb

America has been roiled by the election of Donald Trump and total Republican control of the federal government. Will it be roiled again by a wave election in the coming off-year elections? That would require engaged and consolidated anti-Trump voters, demoralized Trump supporters and independent voters reacting against Trump and Republican overreach. On behalf of Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund (WVWVAF), Democracy Corps went to the battleground states of Virginia and Ohio to speak to African American, white millennial and younger unmarried women and white older unmarried and working class women – the working women who will play a critical role in determining whether Democrats make a comeback in the coming off-year elections.[1] Each of these groups disappointed Democrats to varying degrees in terms of vote and/or turnout in past off-years and in 2016, but our findings in these focus groups give us confidence that a dramatically better performance, even a wave, is possible.

  • The Trump voters among these women are not yet regretting their vote, but the defeat of the Trump-Ryan health care replacement was demoralizing and opened their eyes. For the first time, Trump voters do not push back when presented with critical new information. They accept the CBO findings about the Trump-Ryan health care bill and are disturbed it would not lower costs as promised and would hurt seniors and the disabled. They accept an attack on Trump’s budget because it mentions of one of his signature priorities – the wall. They strongly oppose the wall, especially when paid for by cutting Meals on Wheels and after-school programs that make a difference in their communities. 
  • Exposure to information about the Trump-Ryan health care replacement and Trump’s radical budget priorities lead the women in these groups – the Trump voters included – to express a potentially disruptive new doubt about Trump: that he is too rich and far removed from ordinary struggles to see the harm his policies would do. This is the context in which Trump’s wealth and temperament matter to his voters.
  • The women who oppose Trump in these groups are already leaning into the upcoming off-year elections and are energized by the resistance to the Trump presidency. Many of these focus group participants – especially the more Democratic-leaning African American and millennial women–would typically drop off in a midterm election. Their early engagement and intense opposition to Trump suggest a greater level of participation is possible in the upcoming off-year elections.  

So, only two months into this new administration, we are confident that Democrats can communicate messages that engage anti-Trump voters and that begin to erode the confidence of Trump voters in both Trump and Republicans. Democrats should not let up on their attacks on the Trump-Ryan health care alternative – specifically how it would make health care even more unaffordable and actually raises costs for seniors and the disabled. They should let everyone know of his main budget priorities: his wall paid for by cutting funding for Meals on Wheels and after-school programs and cancer research. 

Read the key findings.

Read the full report.



[1]  On behalf of WVWVAF, Democracy Corps conducted six focus groups among working women March 23, 27-28 in Ohio and Virginia: white unmarried women over 45 and white non-college women in Akron, OH; white unmarried women under 45 and white millennial women in Cleveland, OH; African American women and white non-college women in Richmond, VA. Each group had a representative mix of Clinton (anti-Trump) and Trump voters.

 
Moving to scale to win on health care
Wednesday, April 05 2017
Attachments:
Download this file (Dcor_WV_Winning HC Debate_4.5.2017_FOR RELEASE.pdf)Handout[ ]321 Kb

The humiliating retreat of President Trump and Speaker Ryan on the Obamacare replacement was a powerful moment for working class women, financially pressed unmarried women, millennials, and minorities – both the Clinton and Trump voters. Based on the findings of just-completed focus groups with these key voters, the Republican failure has created a major opportunity for progressives.

  • The Democrats’ attack using the Congressional Budget Office was credible and poignant and should continue to tarnish all involved.
  • If Democrats press their attack in the context of affordability, Trump voters begin to think the president is forgetting the people who elected him and who want him to show more empathy for the middle class.    
  • The Democrats’ approach to the Affordable Care Act – saying only that “the law is not perfect” – misses how radically different voters see health care since the ACA’s passage, and how important it is for Democrats to be the voice of change and positioned as the drivers behind fixing health care to make it “affordable for all.”

Health care is being cited as one of the top problems to be addressed by leaders and has surged to be one of the primary personal challenges facing people in new focus groups conducted for Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund.[1] These women are working class, millennials and minorities who are the least likely to have decent employer-based insurance. They are struggling with increasing costs, whether they are in the exchanges or not, and desperate for change.

With affordability top of mind, they can tell you exactly what they are spending on their son’s diabetes medications, their monthly premiums for their family, the increase they face next year, or the deductibles of the plans on the exchanges.

That is the context for why so many working class voters struggled with the ACA and many voted for candidates who promised to repeal and replace ‘Obamacare.’  But now that context gives progressives the upper hand, if they understand that the combination of stagnant wages and rising premiums, along with high deductibles, makes ‘affordability’ the dominant concern, and if they understand why this has become a federal issue.  

READ THE HANDOUT.



[1] These focus groups were conducted March 23, 27 and 28 in Akron, OH, Cleveland, OH and Richmond, VA among white non-college women, white unmarried women under 45 and older than 45, white millennial women and African American women. The groups included a representative mix of Clinton and Trump voters.  

 
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