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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Greenberg and Weingarten: Dems Gain ‘Stunning New Breakthroughs’ by Running on Economy, Tax Cut

This important new article, “The Democratic opportunity on the economy and tax cuts: Message memo based on new national polling and focus groups” by Stanley Greenberg of Greenberg Research and Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers, is cross-posted from Democracy Corps:

The midterm election is starting to break against Donald Trump and the Republican Party in pro- found ways and running on the economy and the new tax cut helps further solidify advantages for Democrats.1 This is according to a new AFT-Democracy Corps national phone poll and deep focus group research on the economy, President Trump, the new tax cuts, and strategies for 2018.

The results of this AFT-Democracy Corps poll reflect the same conditions witnessed in the real world of special elections where Democrats have won: differential enthusiasm, but also some movement of Trump voters. Democrats hold a 10-point lead in the generic vote in this poll, pro- duced by strong leads with people of color, millennial women, unmarried women, and college women. This poll also shows stunning new breakthroughs with seniors, where Democrats are ahead, and the white working class, which has now fractured along gender lines.

Big gaps in intensity and enthusiasm are an inescapable party of the story. Democrats’ strong disapproval of Trump exceeds Republicans’ strong approval of Trump by almost 30 points, and the generic margin grows to a stunning 16-points among the 50 percent of registered voters with the highest interest in the 2018 election. That reflects the enthusiasm gap witnessed in the grow- ing number of special election victories and we take that seriously.

Conservatives and pundits are hoping two factors mitigate against the realization of a Democratic wave: one is the strength of the macro-economy and the other is the new tax cut, both of which they believe are producing real benefits for ordinary Americans. Based on our qualitative and quantitative research, AFT and Democracy Corps think that assumption is wrong. But only if Democrats embrace the fact that the economy is not producing for working and middle class people whose wage increases are not keeping up with rising costs, particularly the cost of health care; if they make clear this tax cut is ‘rigged for the rich’ at the expense of everyone else; andthat the huge cost of the tax cuts means less investment in education, healthcare and infrastruc- ture and imminent cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.


The economy isn’t very strong for families like mine because our salaries and incomes can’t keep up with the cost of living.


Deficit + entitlement cuts: Adds $1.5 trillion to the deficit and now Donald Trump & Repub- licans say we must pay for it with cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Costs + loss of investment: Costs $2.2 trillion over the next decade which could have funded public schools, health care or infrastructure.


Prioritize investment: The tax law costs $2.2 trillion over the next decade, which means even less funding for investments the middle class needs for a better future. Instead of a law that gives 83 percent of the cuts to the top 1 percent, that money should be used to invest in our public schools and infrastructure and bring down health care costs.

It is important that Democrats make a powerful economic argument to give their tax message context. Defining the tax cut as “rigged for the rich” – the most powerful slogan tested – is the right tactic, but what gives it power is articulating what is really happening in the economy and how this government is threatening things that matter to them that progressives would protect.

Democratic voters are desperate for their party to join this debate: when they hear it simulated in this survey, their enthusiasm for voting and opposition to the tax cut grew even further. Opposi- tion to the tax cut also grew among swing groups including independents, undecided voters, sen- iors and white working class women. Democrats should embrace this debate.

1 In partnership with American Federation of Teachers, Democracy Corps conducted a national phone survey from March 25 – April 2, 2018 among 1,000 registered voters from a voter-file sample. The margin of error for the full sample is +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. Of the 1,000 respondents, 53 percent were interviewed via cell phone to accurately sample the electorate. The phone survey was preceded by focus groups on March 7-9, 2018 among white working-class Obama-Trump voters and Trump-Democrats in Macomb County, MI, African American women from Detroit, MI and White college-graduate women from Southfield, MI.

(Read More here)

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