Ranking the 2020 Democratic Field

As straightforward as it may seem, simply asking voters who of the more than 20 Democratic presidential candidates they plan on supporting in the upcoming primaries is not a great way to identify which candidate is in the best position to win.

With over 20 candidates and a handful of potential candidates in the field, it is increasingly difficult to identify support for candidates. If surveyors use a traditional vote choice question, then the only information identified is who is the number one candidate. This is obviously important, but as candidates drop out it isn’t clear how votes will move around. Another option is asking which candidates a voter is considering supporting. This provides more detail about the potential support for a candidate, but does not necessarily indicate preferences between different candidates. Ideally, we would like know the degree of support each candidate has that includes both its intensity and its breadth.

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A Call to Action for a Climate Conservation Corps

It is time to face an urgent crisis with the spirit of public service that is deeply embedded in our American tradition. That is why today I am calling for creation of a Community Conservation and Climate Corps that will help mobilize the American people to rise to the defining challenge of our time: defeating climate change.

America rose to the challenge of the Great Depression under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in April 1933 that put Americans to work to “conserve our precious natural resources.” President Roosevelt correctly predicted that the CCC “will pay dividends to the present and future generations.” In proposing the creation of the Peace Corps, in 1960, President John F. Kennedy recognized that America held an “immense reservoir of such men and women – anxious to sacrifice their energies and time and toil to the cause of world peace and human progress.”

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Inferring Vote Choice Without a Survey

Interpreting election results is tricky because there is no way to know for sure exactly which voters voted for which candidates. Exit polls and other types of surveys are useful, but come with disadvantages and often are only available for a few high profile race. Another option is to analyze aggregate data such a precinct level results, where precinct characteristics are used in regressions on the aggregate vote share of a candidate. This also has problems, primarily from the fact that it is often misleading to attempt to draw conclusions about individual behavior from aggregated information.

This post outlines another option, where an individual-level model for candidate choice is fit to precinct level voting data. This is made possible by a voter file, which contains records of who voted in each election along with various characteristics about them -- including which precinct they live in. The nice thing about this method is that a survey isn’t needed (although a survey could be incorporated if one is available), and the model is constructed at the individual-level as opposed to the aggregate-level. This partially alleviates some of the problems that arise from working with aggregated data, although we are still stuck with aggregated vote choice data. Ideally, we would like to use survey data in conjunction with election returns to understand the electorate, as other organizations have done. However, we contend that our method is substantially better than analyzing aggregated data for instances where surveys are not available.

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Black Lives Matter Protests Reduced Whites’ Racial Prejudice and Boosted Democratic Party Vote Share

These days protests seem like the new normal. One particular set of protests that has caught the public’s attention is the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, which seeks to dismantle institutional racism and state violence against people of color.

Did BLM protests lead to more racial liberalization in the United States or did it lead to a backlash against African Americans?

Using the release of the 2018 round of the Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES) combined with data on locations of BLM protests in the wake of the police killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown--both unarmed, black civilians--I show that BLM protests did meaningfully reduce whites’ racial prejudice against African Americans.

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Democrats Shouldn't Be Afraid Of Opposing BDS Bans

Primary season is heating up and the large slate of Democratic contenders is looking for opportunities to differentiate themselves from the field. Now that the candidates have started to coalesce around formerly “unrealistic” policies such as Medicare for All, a new set of issues must serve as the leading edge of progressive politics in America. The Twitter intelligentsia insists these new policies are universally unpopular and will doom as all to four more years of Trump. Guided by this conventional wisdom, most candidates are unwilling to hold strong progressive positions on a variety of historically taboo topics. This week we will explore several of these areas, including laws forbidding protest and boycott of Israel.

Luckily, from January 25 to 29, 2019, Data for Progress fielded a survey of 1,282 nationally representative voters with YouGov Blue about these issues that are deemed too controversial to support. (Un)surprisingly, the American public does not view these topics as controversial as Twitter pundits would have you believe.

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The American People Want Medicare for Kids

Imagine if the United States guaranteed high-quality health care for all American children. A “Medicare for Kids” program would do just that: giving all young Americans automatic coverage in a government health plan modeled off of Medicare. Such a program would help millions of American families, and as new polling shows, it has overwhelming public support.

The candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination have been debating the merits of creating a Medicare-for-All system to provide health care coverage for all Americans. Yet whether or not Medicare-for-All ultimately comes to fruition, there is one logical place to start expanding coverage: America’s children. As the People’s Policy Project think tank recently proposed, children could be automatically enrolled into a new Medicare-style health care program and receive a comprehensive set of health benefits with no cost-sharing from birth until early adulthood.

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What Does Twitter Want To Hear?

Let’s start off by making one thing clear. Twitter is not real life. The people on Twitter are not a cross-section of the American electorate. Looking just at the potential voters in the Democratic primary, we know that Twitter users tend to be more progressive, more often white, and more educated. But, Twitter can still be a useful starting point. One problem in understanding how people think about politics is that we mainly have to rely on surveys of voters. This is problematic because surveys responses force voters to reflect, usually with close-ended responses that limit what they can say, about issues that the voter may or not have thought about recently (or at all). Therefore, responses are dependent on the particulars of question phrasing, and some of the information we want to know the most (like what people view as the most important issue) are difficult to extract in a reliable way.

Twitter provides us with a different context than that of surveys. Here individuals are observed actively engaging in politics. We can see what sort of issues they find most pressing by looking at how they respond to those issues. We can start to untangle the particular places that voters want to hear from candidates on then. Of course, we still have a limitation on who is present, but that is why it is only a start.

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It's Time For A Four-Day Work Week

Primary season is heating up and the large slate of Democratic contenders is looking for opportunities to differentiate themselves from the field. Now that the candidates have started to coalesce around formerly “unrealistic” policies such as Medicare for All, a new set of issues must serve as the leading edge of progressive politics in America. The Twitter intelligentsia insists these new policies are universally unpopular and will doom as all to four more years of Trump. Guided by this conventional wisdom, most candidates are unwilling to hold strong progressive positions on a variety of historically taboo topics. This week we will explore several of these areas, including transitioning to a four-day work week.

Luckily, from January 25 to 29, 2019, Data for Progress fielded a survey of 1,282 nationally representative voters with YouGov Blue about these issues that are deemed too controversial to support.

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Progressive Virginia Project Round 2

Virginia is on the cusp of Democrats controlling the State Senate, House of Delegates, and governorship. Democrats haven’t had all three since the days when the party was full of Dixiecrats and Blue Dogs. This give us power to create massive progressive change, from basics like reigning in payday lenders to ambitious projects like the Green New Deal. But as we’ve seen in many states, a Democratic majority doesn’t mean a progressive one, and in some deep blue districts, there are important choices to be made about the direction of the state. That’s why we’re rolling out round #2 of the Progressive Virginia Project, so you can give effectively to build progressive power.

Support the slate here.

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Red Flag Flag Laws Are Incredibly Popular

The movement to enact commonsense gun legislation can be exhausting. It feels like no matter how much death the country sees, the Republicans and the NRA are committed to holding back even the most modest reforms. However, it’s critical to remember that the NRA is an extremist group advocating policies out of step with Americans. One of these measures is to enact a “red flag” law, which allow courts to temporarily remove firearms from the homes of individuals who are deemed to pose a risk to themselves or other.

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