Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Winning 2016 ... or losing: The fault is in our ordering

We've got stars. In the absolute sense of excellent candidates for President. In the relative sense of whatever you imagine the worst of our candidates to be, that candidate is head and shoulders above the best of the GOP rat pack. And we've got a good message ... or do we?

A new poll reported in the Washington Post's Plum Line indicates that we need to do more with our messaging to reach the Rising American Electorate (RAE).

The poll has some good news for Democrats. The survey, which was taken in four key battleground states — Colorado, Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin — suggests that in those states, the demographics do favor Dems. That’s because the poll finds that RAE voter groups — who helped drive Obama’s wins — now make up a "majority or near majority of the vote" in all those states. The poll also finds Dems leading in Senate races in two of those states and tied in two others.

But members of the RAE are insufficiently engaged in next year’s election when compared to Republican-aligned voter groups ... Unmarried women, minorities, and particularly millennials are less interested in next year’s voting than seniors, conservatives, and white non-college men are. Non-college women — a group the Clinton camp is reportedly eyeing as a way to expand on the Obama coalition — are also less interested.

Now, obviously there is a very long way to go, and plenty of time for these voter groups to get more engaged. ...

But Greenberg’s pollsters are sounding the alarm now, warning that Democrats need to take more steps to tailor their message towards boosting the interest level among these [RAE] voters. As Stan Greenberg outlines in his new book, America Ascendant, the key to engaging these voters is two-fold. It isn’t enough to simply outline bold economic policies to deal with college affordability, child care (universal pre-K), workplace flexibility (paid family and sick leave), and so forth, though those things are crucial. What’s also required to engage these groups, Greenberg argues, is a reform agenda geared to reducing the influence of the wealthy, the lobbyists, and the special interests over our politics. Today’s new poll suggests the same.

The basic problem outlined by Greenberg (and noted by other Dem pollsters) is that, even if Democratic economic policies are broadly popular, this isn’t enough on its own, because many Americans don’t believe government can or will actually deliver on those policies. Greenberg writes: "when voters hear the reform narrative first, they are dramatically more open to the middle-class economic narrative that calls for government activism in response to America’s problems."

So the Democratic economic message is good and resonant, but we have to prime the voters with a reform narrative first. We need to pay attention to the ordering.

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