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"Middle Class Economics" Popular with White Working Class and Unmarried Women
Wednesday, February 04 2015
Attachments:
Download this file (DCorps SOTU FullMemo.pdf)Memo[ ]898 Kb

As reported by Thomas Edsall in the New York Times, Democracy Corps conducted dial testing during the 2015 State of the Union address with white swing voters and follow-up online focus groups of two groups critical to the Democrats in 2016 – white working class voters and white unmarried women.  These dials suggest that key demographics:

  • Appreciate the President’s empathetic narrative in identifying with the tough times that millions of Americans continue to endure
  • Balk at Obama’s assessment of a recovered, ‘strong’ economy and his confidence in its direction
  • Endorse the President and Democrats’ forward-looking, middle class-focused economic agenda, including bold plans for free community college, closing tax loopholes, investing in innovation and modernizing our nation’s infrastructure, paid sick leave, and affordable childcare

Swing voters respond to the idea that, like the Erler family whom the President cites frequently, this nation faced a monumental struggle, endured tough times, and has clawed its way back. But, they do not accept the idea that the State of the Union is strong – that the nation’s economy is robust and that they are sharing in it. They don’t think middle class economics has worked yet.

Nonetheless, these voters embrace the President’s agenda for middle class economics in the future. In particular, the President’s proposals to take on issues facing working families hit home.  This agenda appeals greatly to voters across party lines, resonating especially well among white unmarried women and white working class voters, groups which are among the main strategic targets for Democrats for the next several years and who share a set of priorities for middle class prosperity.

Voters’ main concerns with this agenda regard its potential cost implications and the reality that a gridlocked government makes it unlikely many of these policies will come to fruition. Moving forward with a bold and aggressive agenda that calls for real reforms on waste in government and closing loopholes for special interests that can help middle and working class families turn the page to a new economic prosperity will be crucial in attracting these voters in 2016.

Read the Full Memo Here

 
If Democrats hold the Senate, here’s why.
Wednesday, October 29 2014

Reason #1 African American turnout surprised everyone.  Black voters are now high turnout voters even in off-year elections — we saw this in Virginia last year and James Carville says it will happen in Louisiana this year. There and elsewhere voter suppression is a visible, ugly race-motivated effort to deny African Americans and Latinos the right to vote and they noticed.   

 

Reason #2 Democrats in Senate and Governor’s races ran on economic issues that affected unmarried and working women and these notorious non-presidential year drop-off voters decided the election matters.  Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund and the House and Senate Democratic leaders have been pressing just such an agenda and Ron Brownstein just spotlighted where they are making the difference in the National Journal.  Republican opposition to equal pay for women has been the strongest attack against GOP candidates.

 

Reason #3 The conservative Republican governing model that swept the states in 2010 is deeply unpopular, and conservative governors are immensely unpopular.  We see this in North Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Maine.

 

Reason #4 Latino voters notice that Republicans are running as the anti-immigrant party, and they begin to emulate African Americans who see important reasons to vote. They may notice ads from the RGA  that accuse Democrats of favoring welfare for illegal immigrants or that the Republican House voted to rescind President Obama’s executive order on the ‘Dreamers.’

 

Reason #5 The Republican party brand and Republican Party priorities both deeply unpopular with voters – mattered more than President Obama in the contested states. The national coverage centered on President Obama, but successful Democratic candidates in the states were using paid media to remind voters each day what today’s GOP really believes.   

 
NPR Poll in Senate Battleground Points to Finish Near 50-50
Thursday, June 19 2014

These 12 battleground U.S. Senate races take place in a country deeply discontented with the state of the country, all national leaders, and political parties.  With 10 of 12 seats held by Democrats but won by Romney by 8 points in 2012, this will be a competitive year to be sure. Nevertheless, Democratic incumbents and challengers are out-performing Obama in these states, while Democratic intensity matches that of Republicans, and the U.S. Senate vote numbers suggest the parties could well split these seats, putting the Senate at close to 50 for either party.

This survey is the first survey conducted in the U.S. Senate battleground by Democracy Corps and Resurgent Republic for National Public Radio.[1]

The Republican Senate candidates have a 3-point advantage, 46 to 43 percent in the Senate generic ballot – still within the margin of error, but perhaps an edge.  But Romney carried these states by 8 points, so the Democratic candidates are running better than Obama despite massive advertising campaigns to link them to Obama and to attack them for ‘Obamacare.’  That is not a bad result and the question of control is far from settled.

But U.S. Senate races usually break toward one of the parties: the President’s standing here makes a Republican break more likely, while the standing of the Republican Party and Republicans in Congress could produce a break the other way.

 

  • Democratic and Republican partisans are equally intent on voting in the battleground. The national pattern of reduced voter enthusiasm and turnout prospects, particularly among Democratic base voters, may be offset in the Senate battleground where stakes are high and campaigning is intense.
     
  • President Obama is weak in these states, particularly on the economy: 38 percent approve of his performance, falling to 33 percent among Independents. Approval of Obama’s performance on the economy is slightly lower and Republicans have a 10 point advantage over Democrats on handling the economy.
     
  • But the Republican Party is also very weak and is a serious liability even in these Red states.  In these Romney states, voters have more favorable views of Senate Democrats and its leadership than they do of Senate Republicans and Republican leadership in the House.  While just a third (32 percent) approve of the way Democrats are handling their job in the Senate, just a quarter (25 percent) approve of the way Republicans are handling their job in charge of the House – the leaders defining Congress and public perception of Washington gridlock.
     
  • Intense doubts about House Republicans and GOP governors could play a role. Many of the Republican candidates have come out of the House of Representatives or played big role in Republican-controlled states where voters have turned on the governors. Indeed, President Obama’s approval is higher than Jindal’s in Louisiana.
     
  • Fate of the middle class is stronger ground than the economy. Republicans have an advantage on the economy—but critically not on the middle class. The parties are at parity in this battleground on who would do best for the middle class.
     
  • What Obamacare liability?  The Republicans have just a 3-point edge on health care in this Republican battleground, and just 46 percent oppose the law because it is big government. Every minute Republicans spend on repealing the Affordable Care Act is a minute they are not addressing the economy.  

        Listen to the story on NPR

 

 


[1] This survey of 1000 likely 2014 voters in AK, AR, CO, GA, IA, KY, LA, MI, MT, NH, NC, and WV, was conducted by NorthStar Opinion Research with Resurgent Republic and Democracy Corps for National Public Radio, June 6-11, 2014. The margin of error for all is ± 3.10 percent; Republicans ± 6.03 percent; Independents ± 4.64 percent; and Democrats ± 6.15 percent. 

 
State of the Union 2014: At Critical Juncture, President Makes Major Gains
Wednesday, January 29 2014

During Tuesday night's State of the Union Address, Democracy Corps conducted dial tests and follow-up focus groups with 44 swing voters in Colorado. We found President Obama’s agenda for a “year of action”—expressed through new policies for energy, pay equity, jobs, and education—was well-received by voters. The President made impressive gains on his personal favorability, improving from net -2 (48 percent warm, 50 percent cool) to net +27 (64 percent warm, 37 percent cool.)  On this key metric—voters’ personal feelings toward the President—he clearly won our audience in Denver.

There is much here to commend the President’s performance.  He made major gains on having good plans for the economy, looking out for the middle class, and looking out for the interest of women. And in focus groups following the speech, voters gave him high marks on his push for paycheck fairness, minimum wage, education, student loans, and job training. Even Republicans in our audience responded positively to Obama’s plan for paycheck fairness.

As voters told us in follow-up focus groups, they were skeptical of the President heading into this speech. But his heavy emphasis on improving the economy at the pocketbook level—especially for women—won these voters over.  The president made major gains on these key economic metrics and on looking out for the interests of women.

These voters are looking to Washington to move on these important issues that affect them at a pocketbook level every day.  Republicans should not believe that these voters blame both parties equally.  They do not.  However, these voters are looking to the President for real leadership and real action.  They like what he had to say.  Now they want him to follow through. 

SOTU Shift Graph

 
What the Numbers Really Say About President Obama and Republicans in Congress
Monday, January 27 2014

ABC has released a poll and reported in the Washington Post that the president is in trouble and that both his standing and health care hang over the mid-term elections, or as Gary Langer put it, "Barack Obama starts his sixth year in office with the public divided about his overall leadership, dissatisfied with his economic stewardship and still steaming about his rollout of the health care law – all factors threatening not only the president but his party in the midterm elections ahead."

 

Dan Balz and Peyton Craighill write, "Obama’s general weakness and the overall lack of confidence in the country’s political leadership provide a stark backdrop to the beginning of a potentially significant election year.”

 

While the president surely needs to raise his standing and address many issues, this is a remarkably biased reading of their own poll.  Too bad the last month has not fit the narrative of a failed president on a downward trajectory like George Bush.

 

What is wrong with their interpretation?  It’s hard to know where to start.

 

·         They have the President’s approval rating at 46 percent.  The average in all the polls is up, not down.  Congressional Democrats would be quite content if the President’s approval rating were in the upper 40s.  This is not a blip, but rather the trend based on multiple polls. Commentators should pay attention.

·         The congressional generic vote is even but they failed to note that Republicans had taken the lead at the end last year — and that this is an improvement.

·         Republicans in Congress are at a remarkable low, relative to the president and Congressional Democrats.  They are 18 points lower than the president on confidence and 8 points behind the Democrats in Congress.  How could you ignore that in a congressional election year—especially when voters in this poll  express a strong commitment to vote against incumbents?  Did they pay attention to earlier polls from Democracy Corps that showed 50 percent (in an open-ended question) think Republicans are in control of the whole Congress? 

·         Health care produced one of the more amazing contortions in the poll. They focus on Obama’s handling of the rollout and bury the fact that the country is evenly split on whether they favor or oppose the law.  As we have said, the issue unites Republicans and is not a wining issue for them in 2014.  Maybe the voters are paying attention to Congress’s failure to extend unemployment benefits and pass a minimum wage bill— issues that have 60 percent support.  Maybe there is a reason Republican standing continues to drag them down.

 

Many compare Obama’s number after his inauguration and make that the standard for his standing.  He took a very hard  hit that hurt Democrats.  But his position is improving and health care is no wedge issue.  The Congress is on the ballot in November, and I urge those reporting on polls to escape the conventional wisdom about the narrative.

 

 
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