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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


Greenberg and Carville: Clinton’s Economic Focus Can Set Stage for Democratic Sweep

The following analysis by Stan Greenberg and James Carville is cross-posted from their article, “CLINTON DEFINES THE ELECTION AS CLEAR CUT ECONOMIC CHOICE AND THOSE ARE THE MARCHING ORDERS FOR A DOWN-BALLOT WAVE at Democracy Corps:

Over the past week, Hillary Clinton’s focus on the economy has given Democrats their marching orders for consolidating Democrats and her vote down-ballot. The powerful economic message she articulated in the debate and in Toledo should unify the Democratic offer in this campaign. Some have toyed with tying the Republican Party and its candidates to an unpopular Donald Trump, but our work for Women’s Voices. Women Vote Action Fund already showed that strategy does not work. It is too indirect and political, and may actually help GOP candidates to show their independence from Trump.

Instead, listen to our potential Democratic voters. They are sending a very clear message about how to win their vote: make this a clear economic choice; show you are angry with corporate excess; and show how you want to make this economy work for everyone, not just those at the top. This is how Clinton put it in Toledo on October 3rd:

It is a clear, powerful critique of how those at the top have used their influence to write the rules of the economy for their benefit – the heart of the economic narrative proposed by the Roosevelt Institute and WVWVAF and tested by Democracy Corps. Clinton’s battle with Trump on taxes puts that choice and “trickle down” economics at the heart of the election.

The dial research conducted for WVWVAF during the first presidential debate shows this is how you win on the economy, creating jobs and being for the middle class. And it is how you consolidate Democrats to vote for Clinton and to get Clinton voters to consolidate behind Democrats down ballot.

Winning on the economy and consolidating Democrats down-ballot

The world has changed with the first debate, the battle over taxes, and Clinton’s new definition of the choice in the election as one centered on the economy.

Trump led on the economy leading into the debate, and our research in the battleground states found even her supporters did not associate her with taking action on the economy or know about any of her policy goals or advocacy for the middle class. The big “change” voters – millennials and white working class voters – were becoming unmoored.

As a result, in our battleground polling for WVWVAF released on the eve of the first major presidential debate, Clinton and down-ballot Democrats were falling short of potential gains: only 87 percent of Democrats were supporting Clinton and only 66 percent of Clinton voters were voting Democrat for Senate.

But this survey also found that what consolidated those voters was a powerful economic message about rewriting the rules. This was confirmed during dial meter testing of the first presidential debate. Clinton’s current economic message will allow Clinton to defeat Trump on the economy and consolidate Democrats around her candidacy and down-ballot.

A populist economic choice: centered on taxes

The focus on taxes has allowed Clinton and Democrats to present a big economic choice about trickle-down economics, and this choice is also powerfully personalized by Trump. They should say what voters have long known and think as they learn about Donald Trump’s taxes – “It is wrong that corporations and the super wealthy play by a different set of rules” – declare “It’s time to rewrite the rules and make this economy work for everyone” and articulate an empowering, positive, and patriotic plan for a better future.

Our dial meter testing of the first debate on behalf of WVWVAF revealed the tremendous advantage Clinton earns when she is heard offering such a populist economic message. Most of Clinton’s strongest moments during the debate came during her new critique of Reaganomics (“Trumped up trickle down”) and when she laid out her specific plans to build “an economy that works for everyone.

This really struck a chord with the voters in our online dial meters. Post-debate, she shifted voters’ perceptions of her on such key personal attributes as looking out for the middle class (+18) and having good plans for the economy (+14). She improved her margin over Trump on the economy (+9), creating more jobs (+8), standing up for America (+6) and being for the middle class (+6). There was also a huge shift in her overall favorability (+33 points) and as we have seen in public polls over the past few days, Clinton’s vote has risen post-debate.

Embracing Clinton’s economic message in all races

Democratic candidates would do well to follow Clinton’s lead and embrace her economic narrative, choice and agenda.

In their written comments after the debate, the participants in our groups said it felt like Hillary Clinton was speaking directly to them when they brought up “taxes and the economy,” “increasing and decreasing taxes,” “how taxes should be spent and that the millionaires should be paying more of their fair share.” They say that “Hillary was right about trickle-down economics not working and Donald helping himself, not the American middle class” and remember her calls for “equal pay for women and helping the middle class by creating good jobs.”

Such an economic message from the down-ballot Democrats reinforced gains at the top of the ticket and shifted votes in the Senate races in our September battleground survey.


When Hillary Clinton and Democrats offer a powerful economic critique and way forward, as she did at the debate and yesterday in Toledo, it puts them on the side of change and a better future. With Clinton doubling down on this message and if Democrats follow her lead, there is a chance for a reform mandate led from the White House, a Democratic Senate and more in 2017.

Stan Greenberg
James Carville

Democracy Corps is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to making the government of the United States more responsive to the American people. It was founded in 1999 by James Carville and Stanley Greenberg. Democracy Corps provides public opinion research and strategic advice to those dedicated to a more responsive Congress and Presidency. Learn more at www.democracycorps.com

Tomasky: Dems Must Question Policies of Johnson and Stein

Some polls show that Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson may be losing some support in the wake of his “Where is Aleppo?” and other gaffes. But what matters most for Democrats is how much support he and Green Party nominee Jill Stein draw from potential Clinton supporters in key swing states, like FL or NC. There have been some good articles revealing Johnson’s right-wing positions on environmental and economic issues recently (see here, here and here, for example).

Michael Tomasky adds to the critique of third party candidacies in his recent Dail Beast post, “Why No One Should Vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein,” in which he observes:

Libertarianism in recent years has developed a kind of hipster cred. It seems to be against the man. Libertarians are anti-war, usually (the cred narrative started with Ron Paul’s scathing attacks on the Bush/Cheney crowd). They support abortion rights and gay rights. Live and let live. And most of all, libertarians want to legalize pot. I think that’s the big one, for young people especially. I readily concede it would have seemed pretty appealing to the me of 30 years ago.

But here’s the catch. The libertarian live-and-let-live credo doesn’t apply just to young people who’d like to blow a doob in a public park (that’s how we put it back in my day, sonny, and I’m not going to make any phony attempt to be hip). It applies to polluting corporations. It applies to corporations and individuals who want to make unlimited dark money contributions to political campaigns. It applies to the forces pushing free trade. It applies to employers who don’t want to be nickel-and-dimed over paying their workers a minimum wage. It applies to gun manufacturers, and to the National Rifle Association. Still hip?

…He supports the Citizens United decision and thinks donors should be able to spend “as much money as they want.” He backs the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which I would think most young people oppose strongly, after listening to Bernie Sanders inveigh against it for a year. Speaking of Bernie, Johnson opposes tuition-free college. He’s against a federal minimum wage—that’s right, any federal minimum wage (although sometimes his answers are so wandering and circumlocutory that it can be hard to tell). And as for guns, he told Slate in 2011: “I don’t believe there should be any restrictions when it comes to firearms. None.”

On Green party candidate Jill Stein, Tomasky adds:

..The weirdest thing about Stein is her apparent affinity for Vladimir Putin. You read that right. She went to Moscow and met with Putin, and was even seated at his table. Russian Green Party activists rebuked her for not even mentioning human rights and LGBT rights when she met with Putin.

I don’t know Stein, so I can’t say why, but I can tell you that in general terms, there is within the far left of Stein’s generation (she’s 66) an idea inherited from the Cold War that holds that to be too critical of Russia is on some level to endorse the presumptions and priorities of the American war machine. It’s for reasons related to this that you see a fair amount of quasi-apologetics for Putin on the American far left. Her own website boasts—actually boasts—that after Putin listened to her speech in Moscow, he responded: “What I would like to say, something really unexpected, when I was watching this material. When I was listening to your comments, politicians from other countries, you know what I caught myself thinking about? I agree with them, on many issues.”

Imagine the oily smile that lit across her face as Putin spoke these words, and please give some thought to the question of this being your progressive alternative.

You can read more about Stein’s Putin-coddling right here. But I would worry more About Johnson drawing potential voters from Democrats, since he is polling a lot better than Stein.

It’s quite possible that Johnson and Stein will take very few votes away from Clinton when all of the results are tallied. But Democrats would be guilty of political negligence, if they didn’t alert voters to the largely hidden agendas of these two third party candidates.

Trump’s Flip-Floppage Perfectly Captured in Video

‘Weathervane’-style political spots depicting candidate flip-flops on various issues have been among the most frequently deployed ad motifs in presidential and down-ballot campaigns since the 1960s. But it has never been done as well as the video below, owing in large part to Trump’s unique tendency to rant incessantly with no regard for anything he said before. This video should do nicely for your crazy uncle/friend, who insists that “at least Trump is a straight shooter”:

Creamer: Why Progressives Should Vote Democratic, Not Third Party — Especially in 2016

The following article by Democratic strategist Robert Creamer, author of Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, is cross-posted from HuffPo:

A small but significant group of Americans is considering casting their vote this fall for a third- party “protest” candidate. Some are thinking they may not vote at all. They say they don’t like any candidate enough to vote so they will “sit this election out.”

I realize many of the Americans considering a third-party vote — or sitting out the election — have sincere, deeply-held feelings that are driving their actions. Some are just disgusted by what they think is a vitriolic tone of the campaign.

Unfortunately the media encourages that kind of cynicism and disgust by presenting the attacks mounted by each side in the campaign as equally credible.

But while it is easy to understand the reasons that some people might be inclined to choose a “protest” vote — or decide to sit on their hands — the fact is that either of these actions will have one and only one result: putting Donald Trump into the White House.

DCorps: Debate Dial Meter Test Reveals New Trend for Clinton

The following article by Stan Greenberg of Democracy Corps and Page Gardner of Women’s Voices and Women Vote Action Fund is cross-posted from Democracy Corps:

Hillary Clinton won the first debate against Donald Trump and likely produced electoral shifts, according to participants in a live dial meter focus group organized by Democracy Corps and commissioned by Women’s Voices. Women Vote Action Fund. These participants, comprised of voter blocs critical to the outcome of this election, watched a Democratic candidate lay out a broad economic vision that spoke to their lives, show strength that reassured on security, speak to our nation’s racial divisions in a way that engaged voters and most of all, reassure them on trust and honesty.

View Dial Presentation.
Read Dial Report.

Trump’s performance, with some exceptional moments, lacked the bombast of previous efforts, but did little to reassure voters about the prospect of a Trump presidency, particularly when it comes to security. Dials showed that Trump really struggled with both his tax plan and his own taxes, his contempt for women and above all, when he talked about his favorite subject: himself. The only area where he made gains was on having the right approach to trade agreements.

Clinton produced impressive gains in the vote, squeezing the third party candidates and raising intensity of support with white unmarried women and white working class voters.That alone would be a big night. But just as important, she shifted these voters’ perceptions of her as a person on such key attributes as trustworthiness, having good plans for the economy, jobs, and looking out for the middle class. There was also a huge shift in her overall favorability (+33 points).

The white working class story is almost as impressive. Their lines spiked all through the debate and their favorability towards Clinton also shifted 33 points. The 2-way vote margin shifted 16 points as the 3rd party vote got squeezed. And at the end of the debate she won her biggest gains with these working class voters on the economy, keeping America strong and having the right approach to taxes. Clinton could not have hoped for better.

Millennials also responded very positively to key parts of Clinton’s performance, though their favorability shift was not as great as other groups and Clinton lost a little ground on the vote. We will watch what happens in the real world.

Overall, this was a very good night for Hillary Clinton.

Trumped-up trickle down economics 

Some of the Secretary’s strongest moments, particularly among unmarried women, came at the inception of the debate when the two candidates laid out their economic vision. Clinton’s narrative of an “economy that works for everyone,” and her new criticism of Reaganomics (“Trumped up trickle down”) struck a chord with these voters, including non-college white voters who have moved away from Clinton and Democrats in recent elections.

The biggest increase in Clinton’s attributes (+18 points) concerned whether she “looks out for the middle class.” In the post-debate breakout groups among those who shifted over the course of the evening, people talked about how she would help the middle class and cared about them.

  • She was positive in pledging to lead each American and build the middle class. (Shifter, towards Clinton)
  • She really seemed to care about middle class Americans and African Americans. (Shifter, towards Clinton)

Trump’s focus on trade moved the dials up sharply but not far north of 50 percent at this point. Later, his attacks on trade did get one of his strongest responses, and he was considered to have the better approach on trade at the end of the night. That did not translate, though, to any gains in whether he has good plans for the economy.

The exchanges around trickle-down economics got their strongest response from the white working class voters, and their lines soared above all others in the groups. At the end, they shifted 22 points on who has the better approach to taxes.

At the 30 minute mark, the moderator opened a dialog about Trump’s failure to release his taxes, leading to the worst moments from the Republican. When Trump crowed about the $694 million dollars he made last year, among other boasts, he quickly lost the people in our focus group. Clinton seized the opportunity to successfully highlight Trump’s history of stiffing workers and baited Trump into bragging about his business. Trump did not disappoint, further undermining his standing among participants. It reinforced the impression that he was only about making the economy work for him.

  • Trump seemed to think it was fine that he didn’t pay taxes because they would just be wasted. (Shifter, towards Clinton)
  • [He would be a president] that would destroy the middle class so he and [is]e friends can get wealthier. (Shifter, towards Clinton)
  • I realize that he is proud of his business accomplishments, but not everything can be related back to that… he relies on his one area of expertise, and I’m not convinced he runs that with integrity. (Shifter, towards Clinton)
  • He also is pompous and arrogant. He is rich and only wants the rich to get richer. (Shifter, towards Clinton)

Race and crime 
Trump did not commit any racial gaffes in this debate, but neither did he reassure voters.  And he needed too.  Moreover, his commitment to “Stop and Frisk” and his repeated lying about New York’s crime rate did not convince voters in a country increasingly divided over race to embrace him as a figure of national unity.  His insistence on “law and order” did not impress these voters.

Hillary Clinton’s strongest moments among millennial voters—a group that has so far failed to embrace her candidacy with much enthusiasm came during the discussion of race and criminal justice reform.  Her strongest moment among these voters came during her condemnation of Trump’s racist “birther” attack on President Obama.

Clinton also scored points with voters of all stripes, including non-college whites, when embracing common-sense policies to reduce gun violence, producing one of the sharpest dial spikes in the evening. Trump wisely did not walk off the cliff with the gun lobby on the “no-buy, no fly” list but these voters seemed otherwise unimpressed with his NRA endorsement.

Making our country safe
Donald Trump came into this debate needing to reassure a fretful nation that he could be trusted to be Commander in Chief.   While Trump avoided comments about “loving war,” his argument that we need a “businessman” failed to convince these voters.  Participants conferred a huge 60 to 40 percent Clinton advantage over Trump before the debate on who would keep America safe and Trump was not able to do anything to chip in to her lead, with Clinton still holding a 60 to 40 percent lead after the debate.

But she also demonstrated strength throughout the debate.  Despite some cheap and poorly received “stamina” shots from Trump, a 66 percent majority of participants described Clinton as a “strong leader” at the conclusion of the groups

Two big wins and losers
Clinton accomplished some important things, most notably in terms of positive improvement on personal favorability, on trust, on being for the middle class and on the economy and jobs. That cannot help but shift the vote.

The first of the biggest wins was the consolidation of unmarried women.  It was as if Clinton had rehearsed with unmarried women as her audience.  Their dials responded as if she was speaking to them directly. This debate shifted their vote, their excitement and their intensity of support.  They are poised to help Clinton reach a victory.

The second win was the shocking response of white working class persuadable voters.  They responded as if they too were the main target.  They warmed to her dramatically, responding strongly to her on the economy, jobs and taxes. This debate may have shaken up the voters that were to give Donald Trump his path to competitiveness.

The losers are Donald Trump, for obvious reasons, but perhaps also Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. Among the 50 swing persuadable voters, the 3rd party vote and number of undecideds dropped 12 points – that is, by almost 50 percent. Among the white unmarried women, that bloc dropped 12 points and 6 points among the white working class. Obviously, the debate is an artificial environment, but it is also the way this election will look to most voters in the weeks ahead. This debate shows them too to be among the big losers.

The implications for the vote will become apparent pretty quickly, and we expect there to be an increase in Clinton’s margin.

Democracy Corps conducted online dial meter research among 100 likely voters nationally: 50 persuadable voters, 25 white unmarried women, and 25 millennials during the presidential debate. Surveys were administered before and after the live dial meter session. An online breakout focus group among those who changed their vote or become more certain of the vote was conducted after the debate. This research is qualitative in nature and involves 100 total participants.  Results are not statistically projectable onto a larger population. 
Democracy Corps is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to making the government of the United States more responsive to the American people. It was founded in 1999 by James Carville and Stanley Greenberg. Democracy Corps provides public opinion research and strategic advice to those dedicated to a more responsive Congress and Presidency. Learn more at www.democracycorps.com
Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund (WVWVAF) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501 (c)(4) organization founded in 2005 and dedicated to increasing the voting participation and issue advocacy of unmarried women. Learn more at www.wvwvaf.org.

More Polls Show ‘Clinton Trounced Trump’

At Rolling Stone, Tim Dickinson’s “The (Real) Polls Prove It: Clinton Trounced Trump in the Debate” includes an update on some of the latest polling:

…We now have the results of five scientific polls, and each shows Clinton scoring a commanding victory over Trump on the debate stage.

Clinton got her highest marks in a CNN poll that showed her beating Trump 66 to 27 percent. Trump’s best showing came in a PPP poll – in which Clinton still beat him by 11 points, 51 to 40. Polls by YouGov (57/30) Politico/Morning Consult (49/26) and Echelon Insights (48/22) complete the picture of a debate dominated by the woman in the red suit.

…The YouGov poll did not measure electoral leaning, but Clinton walloped Trump among independents, 33 to 17, and even bested him among men, 27 to 24.

How bad was Trump’s night? Even a poll commissioned by the GOP nominee’s favorite propaganda outlet, Breitbart, had him losing to Clinton by five points, 48 to 43.

So how much of a game-changer was the debate? Dickinson adds:

…In the CNN poll, 34 percent of respondents said the debate made them more likely to vote for Clinton. In PPP’s survey, that number was 40 percent, with 39 percent saying they were less likely to vote for Trump. Forty-one percent of Eschelon respondents said they are now more likely to cast a ballot for Clinton.

Each of the polls asked slightly different questions. In the Politico/Morning Consult poll, 23 percent came away with a “much more favorable” view of Clinton, while 26 percent emerged with a “much less favorable” view of Trump.

Dickinson concludes by noting that Trump claimed he won in a CBS News post-debate poll. But CBS responded that “we did not conduct a post-debate poll.” As Dickinson adds, “Despite his crushing defeat, Trump did score one huge debate poll win – in his mind.”

Russo and Linkon: Clinton Can Win in Ohio with Emphasis on Jobs, Wages and Support for Working Families

The following article by John Russo and Sherry Linkon (their bio notes at end of article) is cross-posted from Moyers & Company.

Because of its potential for producing crossover Democratic votes for him in this year’s presidential race, Republican nominee Donald Trump has been paying a lot of attention to Youngstown, Ohio this year. This week, the old mill town gave him the kind of attention he didn’t want.

The quick resignation of local Trump campaign chair Kathy Miller, after a series of jawdropping remarks in an interview with The Guardian — including her opinion that racism did not exist until President Barack Obama took office — and the Trump campaign’s immediate decision to replace her with a Youngstown African-American talk show host suggest that maybe the blunt-spoken billionaire isn’t as enthusiastic about political incorrectness as he purports to be.

Trump’s campaign has encouraged people like Miller to claim their racism openly and defiantly. We’ve seen evidence repeatedly, such as in a Plain Dealer reporter’s summary of the racist comments he’s received from Trump supporters or a widely-circulated New York Times video of comments from supporters at Trump rallies. And while Trump certainly fueled the birther movement, it grew legs at tea party rallies with laments about the loss of the “real” America. The horrifyingly repetitious pattern of police officers shooting unarmed black men has made the underlying racism in American culture not only visible but deadly, while pushback against the Black Lives Matter movement makes clear that many white people firmly believe, like Miller, that people of color face no significant barriers.


The following article is cross-posted from DCorps:

On the eve of the first major presidential debate, the latest likely voter survey of the battleground states on behalf of Women’s Voices. Women Vote Action Fund shows Hillary Clinton settled into a strong lead in Pennsylvania, a modest one in North Carolina, and essentially tied in Ohio and Nevada.[1] Her overall margin has narrowed from where we had it across the battleground in June. Nothing comes easily in this election year, but the Clinton margin should grow from the structure of the race revealed in this analysis. In the two-person ballot, her margin grows 2-points to a 5-point lead across these states and she takes the lead in Nevada. And if the 3rd party candidates weaken, as is normal, Clinton disproportionately benefits.



The structure of the race

This survey shows why the presidential race in the battleground has tightened, but also why it is likely to widen back up. Trump’s better margins come from some consolidation of base Republicans and Clinton has lost support to 3rd party candidates in the wake of the campaign’s travails. Trump continues to earn overwhelming and intense support with white working class men who are making themselves the backbone of the Republican presidential coalition. Over three-quarters of white non-college men say the country is on the wrong track, making them the most pessimistic voters in the country. An equal number are casting a ballot for Trump, as they make disappointment known.  But as we shall see, even extraordinary turnout from these voters cannot tip the Clinton states to Trump.

Clinton still wins the Electoral College majority, however, because of her stable support with parts of the Rising American Electorate and her inroads with other swing groups. The unmarried woman and minorities at the heart of the RAE are voting for Clinton in force. Three-quarters of minorities are voting for Clinton in these battleground states, she is getting 62 percent with unmarried women and is even winning the majority of white unmarried women (52 Clinton to 31 percent for Trump). Right now, unmarried women are showing respectable levels of voter engagement. In this poll, unmarried women and Democrats fall just 2-3 points below Republicans in saying this election matters tremendously.


But Clinton is also over-performing with college graduates, suburban voters and the white working class women who are put off by Trump.  That is a big part of the story.


Donald Trump’s vote, on the other hand, is driven primarily by the white working class men who are voting for him 63 to 18. They are making their discontent known by pulling away from Clinton and making themselves the backbone of the Republican presidential coalition; they are 30 percent of the Trump vote.

But in this new America, they would have to increase their share of the vote from 16 to 25 percent in North Carolina, 15 to 17 percent in Nevada, and 20 to 31 percent in Pennsylvania, all else being equal, to put Trump ahead in those states.

Incomplete partisan consolidation

The incomplete consolidation of Democratic partisans for Clinton and the weak consolidation of Clinton voters for Senate and House candidates are the main reason Democrats down-ballot are falling short of their potential at this point. Clinton is getting 87 percent of Democrats, short of the 92 percent Obama had in these states in 2012. She only gets 77 percent of Obama voters and 78 percent of those who approve of Obama.

Clinton will likely benefit disproportionately if the race becomes more polarized. In the two-way ballot she gets 93 percent of Democratic voters. So, she clearly has the potential to drive up her margin with partisans.

Trump does not have such an opportunity. He currently gets 82 percent of Republicans, certainly up from our earlier surveys. However, his vote in the two-way ballot leaves him at just 86 percent of the vote in the GOP base. There are 14 percent in the Republican Party who just won’t vote for him. Those holdouts are concentrated among the moderate Republicans[2] where he is getting only 60 percent of the vote. One-quarter are voting for a 3rd party candidate (22 percent for Johnson) and 10 percent are casting ballots for Clinton. Furthermore, there is a halo effect for Clinton, who enjoys a 57 percent recall among Democratic primary voters, but not for Trump among Republicans. He is topped out within his base.

Potential Democratic consolidation creates this campaign’s target groups

The starting target is the 18 percent of the Democratic voters who are holding back from Hillary Clinton. These target Democrats are change voters: three-quarters say the country is on the wrong path. Well over 60 percent have unfavorable views of both Clinton and Trump, though they feel very positively about President Obama.

Millennials are at the center of the story. They comprise nearly four-in-ten of these unconsolidated Democrats. They form a parallel story to the disaffected white men. They want change, and 61 percent say this country is off on the wrong track. They are in an anti-establishment mood, and one-third of millennials are now not voting for a major party candidate. Clinton is only getting 40 percent of the millennial vote in a 4-way ballot. She is particularly struggling with the white millennials where she is running even with Trump – 33 Clinton to 32 Trump, with 28 percent voting for 3rd party candidates.

Consolidating Democrats and winning races 

The incomplete consolidation of the Democratic Party at the top of the ballot is exaggerated down-ballot, and that creates a huge opportunity. That will also impact what messages can really move the vote. Only 62 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaning independents are voting for the Democratic Senate candidate. That means that there is a big bloc of 15 percent of the electorate in these states who are voting for Clinton but not Democrats in these key federal races.

Clinton widening her lead and winning states and Democrats making gains in the Senate and House depends on the right strategy and messages for reaching these voters. We tested one on GOP extremism, one linking Republican candidates to Trump and one offering a positive Democratic economic message.

Democrats, millennials and Democratic target voters are desperate to hear where the Democratic candidates want to lead the country. The message that consolidates Democrats more than any other tested in this survey is one that offers a clear positive economic agenda.  It says that Democrats have a plan for the economy, and that to get these things done, we need a Democratic majority in Congress.


A big majority of 61 percent found this to be a convincing reason to vote for the Democratic candidate for Senate, 29 percent said it was very convincing. But it was particularly well-received by the groups we are trying to consolidate. Over half of them said it was a very convincing reason to vote for the Democratic candidates.

An attack on Republican candidates for Trump as their party’s nominee is not as successful. It gets a strong response, but it is weakened by the fact that a plurality of voters think the GOP is divided and many candidates in his own party do not support him. Also, it simply does not lead to people consolidating their vote behind Democrats.


But it is clear that the greatest gains down-ballot, and at the top of the ticket, come when voters hear the Democrats offer a positive vision for where they will take the country and how they will change an economy that only enriches the few. It puts them on the side of change and a better future.



The race has tightened but Hillary Clinton is leading in the presidential battleground due to her strong support from unmarried women, minorities, and swing groups turned off by Donald Trump. There is still room for the Democrats to consolidate, however, both at the top of the ticket and down-ballot. Democratic targets for consolidation are eager to hear more about what Democratic candidates will do if elected. A message that argues for a Democrat majority to execute a progressive economic agenda moves unconsolidated Democrats to vote for their party candidate, both at the top of the ticket and down-ballot.

[1]On behalf of Women’s Voices. Women Vote Action Fund, Democracy Corps and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner fielded this survey of 1,600 likely voters across 4 competitive battleground states on September 10-19, 2016. Respondents were divided equally among states (n=400) of North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The states were weighted proportional to their vote share. Fifty one percent of respondents were reached by cell phone, in order to account for ever-changing demographics and accurately sample the full electorate in each state. Margin of error for the full sample = +/-2.45 percentage points at 95% confidence.  Margin of error for each state sample= +/-4.90 percentage points at 95% confidence.   

[2] Republicans who say they are liberal or moderate on ideology. They are more than one-third of base Republicans and only one-quarter are voting for Trump. They are 37 percent of the Johnson vote.