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Posts Tagged ‘Moderates’

Democratic base wants compromise

February 7th, 2013

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Last November, Bob and Evelyn Driscoll waited 90 minutes in line to vote. Standing in a cold drizzle, neither of them were in love with either of the presidential candidates or their congressional representatives. But they were eager to vote because they knew the country faced immense challenges.

They believed the economy was better but still just inching along. Their take-home pay had been basically flat for the past 10 years. They worried that the deficit was standing in the way of America returning to greatness. They wondered whether Social Security and Medicare would be there for their kids — or themselves — when they needed it. And they hoped they had saved enough for retirement and for the ever-increasing cost of college for both of their children.

They stood in the cold until it was their turn to vote. They pulled the lever for the president, and for Democrats in the House and Senate. And if they were able to deliver a short message to each as we cross the threshold into Barack Obama’s second term, it would be this: “Fix it. Work together and fix it.”

The Driscolls aren’t just among a tiny slice of swing voters — they represent millions of moderate and independent voters across Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio and throughout America. Most important for the president and Democrats in Congress, they represent the base of the Democratic Party.

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Battle for the Senate: North Dakota

October 15th, 2012

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North Dakota’s Senate race is shaping up to be a surprising toss-up in 2012. The most recent poll from Mason-Dixon (October 3–5) has the race tied at 47% apiece, with former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D) and her opponent, U.S. Rep. Rick Berg (R), both well-known and evenly matched in the state. In order to clinch a victory in this often red state, Heitkamp will need to dominate among moderate voters—who compose about half of North Dakota’s electorate. If Heitkamp can use the two upcoming debates to appeal to those moderates (one today and the other on October 25th), she may be able to pull the 65% of moderates we predict she’ll need to win in November. By contrast, because the number of conservatives far exceeds the number of liberals in the state, Berg may be able to declare victory if he can peel off just 36% of moderate voters.

In a recent poll, both had favorable name recognition among North Dakotans, with few people unfamiliar with the candidates.

Statewide Name Recognition

Recognize Favorable Recognize Unfavorable Recognize Neutral Don’t Recognize
Heitkamp 46% 35% 18% 1%
Rep. Berg 42% 37% 20% 1%

 

In May Third Way released a report highlighting the importance of moderates in the 2012 Senate Battlegrounds races. Throughout October, we will assess how well the candidates are doing in appealing to this crucial group in the middle. Below, we take a look at Nevada and the Senate race between Heidi Heitkamp (D) and Rep.Rick Berg (R).

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Battle for the Senate: Nevada

October 11th, 2012

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Moderates aren’t sold on either candidate seeking Nevada’s Senate seat in November. They disapprove of Senator Dean Heller’s job performance by 8 points (37% approve to 45% disapprove), and they have an unfavorable view of Representative Shelley Berkley (45% favorable to 47% unfavorable).

Heller and Berkley square-off in Las Vegas for their second debate and while scoring points with their respective bases might be tempting, to win in November, Heller and Berkley need the support of Nevada’s largest ideological bloc of voters: moderates. Third Way predicts that if Heller garners 40% of the moderate vote, he’ll win in November. But if Berkley earns the support of 61% of Nevada’s moderate voters, then she’ll be Nevada’s next Senator.

In May Third Way released a report highlighting the importance of moderates in the 2012 Senate Battlegrounds races. Throughout October, we will assess how well the candidates are doing in appealing to this crucial group in the middle. Below, we take a look at Nevada and the Senate race between Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) and Sen. Dean Heller (R).

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Battle for the Senate: Massachusetts

October 10th, 2012

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Who will moderates pick come November? Tonight is the third of four debates between Massachusetts Senate candidates Sen. Scott Brown (R) and Elizabeth Warren (D) and the battle for the Senate in Massachusetts is likely to be close. If Elizabeth Warren can maintain support from 43% or more of Massachusetts’ moderate voters, she will likely win in November. But if Sen. Scott Brown can garner more than half of the moderates, he’ll retain his seat for a full term.

In May we released a report highlighting the importance of moderates in the 2012 Senate Battlegrounds races. Throughout October, we will assess how well the candidates are doing in appealing to this crucial group in the middle. First up, Massachusetts.

Despite being hailed as one of the most liberal states in the nation, Massachusetts is dominated by moderates. Over the past decade, more voters have identified as moderates—ranging from a high of 50% in 2006 to a low of 40% in 2000—than liberals or conservatives.[*] Liberals have never composed the majority of the electorate in Massachusetts; however, compared to most statewide electorates, liberals consistently outnumber conservatives.

Composition of the electorate

  Liberal Moderate Conservative
2000 36% 40% 24%
2004 34% 45% 21%
2006 27% 50% 23%
2008 32% 46% 21%
Average 32.25% 45.25% 22.25%

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The Obama Independents

March 1st, 2012

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What do Senators Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman have in common?

Aside from graduating from college in 1964 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science, not much. Sanders and Lieberman, the only elected Independents in Congress, couldn’t be further apart—Sanders is a self-described democratic socialist and Lieberman was a surrogate for Republican Presidential nominee Sen. John McCain in 2008. Sanders opposes the Keystone pipeline; Lieberman supports it. If you averaged their views, you wouldn’t know anything about their positions on that issue, nor many others.

But that’s how the media and political world assess the key Independent voter bloc today. They lump the Bernie Sanders, Joe Lieberman, and even Ron Paul Independents together and try to make heads or tails out of them. Talking about Independents as a unified group masks internal diversity, making it nearly impossible to draw coherent conclusions about their policy preferences, and offering little insight for how to appeal to these voters.

Instead, prognosticators and strategists should turn their attention to the true swing voters for 2012: the Obama Independents—those Independents who voted for the President in 2008. As it turns out, Obama Independents are a different breed than those who voted for McCain. They are much more ideologically moderate, vastly more ethnically diverse, and most importantly the swingiest of swing voters. In 2008, Obama won 52% of self-described Independents, a level of support that he has not matched in public polling since. To win in 2012 he doesn’t need to win all of those 52%, but he’ll need most of them. And it’s unlikely, based on our study, that he has much upside with McCain Independents.

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Immigration North of the Border

May 5th, 2011

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This piece was originally posted on The Huffington Post.

The heated debate over how we deal with immigration is only getting uglier and more caustic. Perhaps, as we try to settle our problem with entrants south of the border, we should look for answers north of the border.

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