The Role Of News Interest In Candidate Evaluation

In this post, we focus on the role of attention voters report they pay to the news. As we show, news attention is an important predictor of candidate vote choice. Those who report following news most of the time systematically differ from those who do not. As voters’ attention to the news will change over the course of the primary, this has important implications for the decisions candidates will make as the primaries draw near.

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Elizabeth Warren’s Environmental Justice Plan is Popular

Today, Elizabeth Warren released her plan to center justice in the fight against climate change. The platform, one of the longest and most thorough drafted in a policy-heavy campaign, builds on decades of organizing by Indigenous nations and communities of color. In the plan, the Senator commits to uphold the Principles of Environmental Justice drafted at the 1991 National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit—a touchstone document in the long fight against environmental racism. The plan would deepen and expand commitments made by the Clinton and Obama administrations to address environmental injustice in the day-to-day work of federal agencies. And, as part of Warren’s broad anti-corruption themed campaign, the plan takes aim at the fossil fuel corporations that have put elected officials on the dole and polluted the climate and our politics by sewing doubt about the scientific truth of global warming. The plan also shows the Senator’s commitment to advancing justice for working families and communities of color—a key pillar of a Green New Deal.

The Warren plan signals a broader shift within the Democratic Party towards a new consensus wherein justice is considered a core tenet of climate and environmental policy. Centrist politicians, think tanks and green groups have, for far too long, pushed an ideology of carbon supremacy—the notion that pollution and emissions should be isolated from broader questions of jobs, infrastructure, civil rights, Indigenous rights and justice. In February, the Washington Post editorial board said that serious policymakers should not “muddle” decarbonization with social programs that “divert money and attention from the primary mission.” And in a widely circulated 11,000-word “Open Letter to Green New Dealers,” Jerry Taylor, the President of the Reaganite Niskanen Center, was incredulous. “The climate is too important to be held hostage to political commitments,” he wrote. To test these rote hypotheses, Data for Progress polled key pieces of the Warren campaign’s environmental justice plan. As it turns out, voters support justice-oriented climate action.t

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A Plurality of Registered Voters Support Forgiving Medical Debt

In mid-September, Bernie Sanders released a proposal that would eliminate the $81 billion of outstanding medical debt, as well as provide protections for people with medical debt going forward. 

One in six Americans has past-due medical debt according to a recent analysis in Health Affairs, making medical debt the most common type of debt in collections. This debt tends to be concentrated among younger people, with 11% of all debt held by 27-year-olds (possibly because this is the year after young adults are removed from their parents' health insurance). This problem has been especially salient recently after the New York Times reported that private equity firms have spent $28 million in dark money to defeat legislation that would stop price-gouging in the ER, and Kaiser Health News published a stunning expose of the debt collection tactics of the University of Virginia Health System. In the past six years, the health system “filed 36,000 lawsuits against patients seeking a total of more than $106 million, seizing wages and bank accounts, putting liens on property and homes and forcing families into bankruptcy.” 

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