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Posts Tagged ‘Voters’

Virginia & New Jersey: Democratic Warning Flags & Republican Opportunities

November 6th, 2013


The narrative of 2013 thus far has been the victory of pragmatism over dogmatic adherence to ideology, moderation and bipartisan compromise over extreme partisanship. Those on the Left may be tempted to view their victory in Virginia as a demographic inevitability, running up numbers with voters who are all but guaranteed to be Democrats for life. But buried within the polling are warning signs for Democrats and opportunities for Republicans.

Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe won the 18-29 year-old vote by a bare margin of 45% to 40%. A surprising 15% voted for Robert Sarvis, which marked the highest level of support the libertarian candidate received from any age group. By contrast, President Obama won 60% of younger voters in 2008 and 2012 in Virginia. But last night’s election proves that President Obama’s large margins of victory among younger voters cannot be assumed to simply transfer to other Democratic candidates. McAuliffe may have secured a plurality of the youth vote, but he was down 15 points from President Obama’s margin.

Indeed, buried in the exit polls, Ken Cuccinelli actually won more voters ages 18-24 than McAuliffe, by 45% to 39%.* [McAuliffe did better among 25-29 year olds, winning them 50% to Cuccinelli's 35%.] Younger Millennials, those who likely have scant memories of a pre-September 11 America and entered adulthood during a recession, appear more open to Republican and libertarian candidates than their slight elders. While Republicans’–and Cuccinelli’s, in particular–views on gay equality are generally highlighted as a symbol of youth alienation from socially conservative Republican candidates, he still garnered 45% support from the youngest voters last night. That means Democrats cannot simply assume that a few social issues will necessarily drive the youth vote from the GOP and into their ranks by overwhelming margins.

In election eve polling among Hispanics and Asians, McAuliffe won 66% of the Hispanic vote and 63% of the Asian vote. However, the polls demonstrate that those voters are not die-hard partisans–58% of Hispanics and 68% of Asians have voted Republican in the past, and only 47% of Hispanics and 36% of Asians call themselves Democrats. Immigration emerges as a key issue for these groups. McAuliffe’s support for a Virginia DREAM Act, coupled with Cuccinelli’s opposition to comprehensive immigration reform and harsh language towards immigrants, not only propelled these communities to support the Democrat but also spilled over to tarnish the Republican Party brand–70% or more of Hispanics and about 60% of Asians reported that Cuccinelli’s statements about immigrants made them less favorable to the Republican Party.

But all of that could be remedied. Views of the GOP would improve markedly if the House held a vote and passed comprehensive immigration reform. Nearly 70% of Hispanics and 47% of Asians would view Republicans in Congress less favorably if there is no vote while about 40% of each group would view Republicans in Congress more favorably if a vote was scheduled. Republicans have a genuine opportunity here. In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie out-right won the Hispanic vote. In Virginia and elsewhere, winning over just a few Hispanic or Asian voters could have propelled Republicans to victory.

Recently, we noted that despite President Obama’s impressive wins in 2008 and 2012, Millennial, Hispanic, and Asian voters were neither reliable partisans nor liberal ideologues. If anything, both gubernatorial races in 2013 confirmed that perspective.

*The sample size for the 18-29 year old vote in the exit polls is about 308, which would result in a margin-of-error around +/-5.5.


Are Liberals Taking Over?

September 27th, 2013


Immigration reform. Defunding the ACA. Marriage for gay couples.

Polls suggest there’s a gulf between Republicans and the public. And some Democrats have become emboldened, arguing that a new, liberal, Democratic majority has arrived.

Over the past few short weeks, everything from Syria to de Blasio to Summers has been touted as evidence of the growing strength of liberals. In a sprawling tome, Peter Beinart weaves all of these threads together, arguing that Occupy Wall Street should be the Democratic playbook and Sen. Elizabeth Warren should be the QB come 2016. President Obama? He’s been put on the Clinton DINO bench.

All of this is based on the prognosticators’ faith that what voters really want is a “real” Democrat. Translation? Liberal ideologue.

But what if that’s not what voters want? In our report on the new electorate, we examine ideology and partisanship among key growing demographic groups—Hispanic, Asian, and Millennial voters. We found that they are not overwhelmingly liberal, nor have they aligned strongly with the Democratic Party.


Liberal Moderate Conservative
Hispanics 30% 31% 32%
Asians 31% 37% 24%
Millennials 28% 38% 28%

Source: Pew Research Center 


Democrat Independent Republican
Hispanics 32% 50% 13%
Asians 33% 34% 18%
Millennials 31% 45% 18%

Source: Pew Research Center and Gallup

Despite the temptations of recent events, Democrats should heed this data and be cautious to not take the support of Hispanic, Asian, and Millennial voters for granted. Independents and moderates represent large swaths of these groups, and of voters overall. Republicans may have ceded the center recently, but if history is any guide, they will adapt. And when they do, Democrats need to be ready.

Democratic base wants compromise

February 7th, 2013

by and

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

How did Obama do it?

November 6th, 2012


This piece was originally featured on Al Jazeera.

It was partly a personal victory. American voters like Barack Obama. Mitt Romney, not so much. Romney came across as an opportunist. He was a moderate when that was required in Massachusetts, and he was a “severe conservative” when he ran for the Republican nomination. In the end, voters just didn’t trust Romney

What about the issues? The economy was a huge burden for President Obama. That’s why the election was so close. It was by far the biggest issue to voters, and those concerned about the economy did vote for Romney. But not by a huge margin. Obama benefited from the fact that a lot of voters still blame President Bush for the financial crisis. And from the fact that people believe the economy is beginning to turn around. Obama sells hope, and there’s still a lot of hope out there. Read the rest of this entry »

Why it’s all about Obama

October 16th, 2012


This piece was originally featured on Reuters.

President Barack Obama may have lost the first debate the minute he appeared on stage in Denver. Just by showing up, he changed the terms of the campaign. Viewers immediately saw the election as a referendum on the president. The decision became whether to fire him or rehire him.

This was bound to happen sooner or later.  It always happens when an incumbent is running for reelection.  Until the Oct. 3 debate, Democrats had made a vigorous, and mostly successful, effort to turn the election into a choice rather than a referendum: Which guy do you like better — Obama or Mitt Romney? Read the rest of this entry »

Battle for the Senate: North Dakota

October 15th, 2012


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).

Read the rest of this entry »