That "Green Dream, or Whatever They Call It"

The Green New Deal is likely one of the most talked about progressive political programs in a long time. The explosions of conversation about it on Twitter is clear, and with the introduction of Senator Markey and Representative Occasio-Cortez’s resolution there is now a clear focus on specific goals and plans. Recent Data for Progress / YouGov Blue polling has shown broad support for the resolution with 43 percent of Americans in support and 38 percent opposed, even when voters are told it will require tax hikes.

To dig deeper into why people are supporting or opposing the Green New Deal we asked Civis Analytics to survey 4,380 Americans and asked them if they support, oppose or are undecided about the Green New Deal and then followed up to ask why they had that position. To understand the responses we analyzed the results looking at what words were more common among supporters versus those who opposed plan. We again used the probabilistic model described here where each word was given a probability of being used for each group and then we look at the differences between the two groups.

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The Language of Class

In our newest blog on the meaning and measurement of the working class, we are going to dive into the specific words that individuals and groups used to describe what it means to be working class in America. What I find is that Republicans use a much wider understanding of working class, meaning anyone who works, while Democrats focus more on precarity. In addition those who face little precarity are more likely to use more traditional definitions of working class based on types of jobs and education.

In order to analyze text differences, I used the method proposed by Monroe, Colaresi and Quinn (2008) and implemented in the SpeedReader package available on github. Unlike many text analysis methods, they suggest a model based approach where the words used in the text are seen as the probabilistic result of different groups with different propensities to select words. From this framework it is possible to compare the probability of using different words by each group.  

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Half of US Voters Do Not Know of Any Republican Women in Office

Following the 2018 midterms, more women than ever were elected to both state legislatures and the U.S. Congress. Prior to 2018, about 25 percent of state legislatures, and 20 percent of Congressional seats were held by women. After the November races, those numbers increased to about 29 percent and 24 percent respectively. Although more women than ever were elected to Congress, only one in ten is a Republican; overall, the share of women in Congress who are Republican is down from last session from 29 to 21. Compare that to Democrats, who went from 81 women in Congress to 106. For several decades Republicans have been falling behind Democrats on this metric, but 2018 was especially bad for them.

The notion that a party represents “people like me” is central to much research on voter motivation. The decline in the share of women among Republican office-holders, and the increase among Democratic office-holders led us to investigate which women legislators voters associate most with each party. As part of our January national issues survey, we posed a simple task to the 1,282 US voters in our sample: Name a woman who currently holds office somewhere in the United States. Specifically, we asked:

Please name any Democratic woman who currently holds elected office somewhere in the United States.

and:

Please name any Republican woman who currently holds elected office somewhere in the United States.

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Analyzing The 2020 Presidential Contenders' Housing Policies

The next President of the United States will give a shit about housing.

The average American spends far more on housing than any other expense, the vast majority sees housing affordability as a serious problem, and most people report having made a serious personal sacrifice to afford rent or a home payment.

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Americans Across the Political Spectrum Support Increasing Worker's Role in Corporate Decision-making

Americans across the Political Spectrum Support Increasing Worker's Role in Corporate Decision-making

While many issues seem to divide Americans today, there are policies advocated by the left that can achieve broad-based support. One such example is a proposal to institute laws that mandate employee representation on corporate boards.

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Safe Streets As Progressive Imperative

In the United States, of the over 37,000 people killed in automobile crashes last year, more than 6,000 were pedestrians, crushed under a vehicle's wheels or killed by the collision's impact. This problem is getting worse: since 2013, traffic fatalities nationwide are up more than 13% and in cities, towns, and suburban communities, they have increased by 25 percent.

Across the country, advocacy for safer streets has grown in kinship with environmental activism, organized labor and people fighting against income inequality. In recent years, it has moved from a niche issue to a solid part of the progressive policy matrix in major cities.Street safety fits neatly into the coalescing progressive vision for our towns and cities: Dense, affordable housing. Parks and open space. Reliable public transit. Walkable and bikeable streets.

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Identifying the Working Class

“Working Class” remains a contentious term in popular discourse. As I discussed in a previous blog, this term is embedded with assumptions not only about socioeconomic status but race and occupation. We recently fielded a survey with YouGov Blue in order to get more precise handle on what it means to be “working class” and how those who fit this description vote.

To start, we asked 1,282 voters to write, in their opinion, what “it means to be working class in America today”. Below shows the top words, bigrams (two words together) and trigrams (three words together) after stemming the responses. This shows the words that were commonly used across all survey respondents. What we see are words generally associated with work near the top (work, job, and paycheck) for example. This is not surprising, as working class starts with some initial idea of working for a living opposed to living off of inheritance or investments. We also see a lot of reference towards economic instability or poverty. This is apparent in words and phrases like “live paycheck to paycheck” or poor.

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Millennials Are More Likely To Oppose Racism

A few days back, DfP proclaimed that Millennials were helping to kill incorrect beliefs about the racism industry. Interpreting this statement is pretty straightforward. Looking at a measure of “racial resentment,” Millennials appear more sensitive to institutional discrimination than their older peers. Given what we know about the link between racial attitudes and voting – people who perceive institutional discrimination as a problem are more likely to vote for Democrats – that’s a serious assertion.

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The New Fight For Affordable Housing

Last week, tenants and housing activists all across the country staged protests and lobby sessions as part of the Renters Rising for Rent Control Day of Action to demand immediate relief from the housing crisis. In New York, California, Illinois, and other states across the country, activists are rallying around rent control - a policy once widely available, highly effective, and broadly popular with the American people that is starting to make a comeback in policy and academic circles.

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AOC is Right: A Society With Both Poverty and Billionaires is Immoral

New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez made a splash with her proposal to restore the top marginal tax rates on income to levels from the 1960s. In a recent interview on Martin Luther King day, she argued that a society where some can accumulate billions in wealth while others are denied their basic needs such a healthcare is an immoral one. The data clearly show that we have the ability alleviate poverty, but poverty persists nonetheless. Further, while the wealthy have been able to capture increasing proportions of income and wealth, extreme poverty has gotten worse in the US. Regardless of one’s own perspective on morality, it’s impossible to justify this on moral grounds.

As we have noted before, after tax corporate profits as a fraction of the national gross value added, which is the value of all goods and services produced in the country, have been rising. From the 50’s through the mid 70’s, about 2 cents of after tax profits were generated from one dollar of goods and services produced. By 2017, this figure exploded to 10 cents on the dollar. This generated enormous wealth in the form of stock values and income in the form of dividends and capital gains, which mostly accrued to those who were already very wealthy. Over the same time period, the share of wealth held by the top 0.01% of households also shot up.

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