The Trailer: Welcome to the 2020 Democratic Primary

David Weigel, The Washington Post

Rice's 4th District is not quite as blue as the typical Democratic primary battlefield. Republican candidates for president regularly win around 44 percent of its vote, more than double their support in Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's 14th District. But Sean McElwee of Data for Progress is conducting polls in 10 districts, a mixture of places where moderate incumbent Democrats represent much more liberal electorates and places where certain votes or issues could create an opening for a challenger.

Opposing Green New Deal Could Cost Popular Democratic Lawmaker Her Job, Poll Shows

Alexander C. Kaufman, Huffington Post

After easily winning a third term in November, Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) spearheaded a revolt against likely House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), arguing that the California lawmaker’s ascent would “jeopardize this hard-fought majority that we finally got” of moderate women in suburban districts like hers.

Yet new polling suggests white, suburban women in Rice’s own southwestern Long Island district could turn on the Democrat if she refuses to back a Green New Deal, the umbrella term for the sweeping policy to combat climate change and overhaul the economy that Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has championed.


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Forty-seven percent of survey respondents were more likely to vote for a candidate who supports a Green New Deal, while only 18 percent vowed to back someone who opposed the policy. Another 22 percent said support for a Green New Deal had no impact on their vote, and 13 percent were not sure.

The polling ― conducted between Dec. 17 and Dec. 27 by the left-leaning think tank Data for Progress and shared exclusively with HuffPost ― shows particularly strong support for a Green New Deal among women in the suburban portions of the Nassau County district abutting the New York City borough of Queens.


The results mirror support for Ocasio-Cortez, whose surprise primary victory over the summer skyrocketed the 29-year-old to national fame. In Rice’s district, 52 percent of those polls viewed Ocasio-Cortez favorably, of which 56 percent said they’d support a Green New Deal proponent in a 2020 primary.

“Ocasio-Cortez has clearly broken through,” Sean McElwee, the co-founder of Data for Progress, said by phone. “People like Ocasio-Cortez are more than willing to primary a Democrat for not supporting a Green New Deal.”

Exclusive Poll: Anti-Pelosi Democrats Could be Vulnerable to Primary Challenges in 2020

Gideon Resnick, The Daily Beast

The central target of that effort is Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), who led a charge for new leadership in the House.

There are a number of people already considering challenging him in a 2020 primary and he faced some backlash from constituents at a November town hall.

And now exclusive polling provided to The Daily Beast from the outfit Slingshot Strategies, in partnership with the progressive firm Data for Progress, indicates that Moulton could be vulnerable in a primary challenge.

The survey of 300 likely Democratic primary voters in Massachusetts’ 6th congressional district, conducted online from Dec. 17 to 27, found that Moulton had a 61% favorable rating. But when pitted against other prospective Democratic challengers, only 49% said that they would back him. Of those surveyed, 29% said they were not sure.


“Moulton faces a real risk from his opposition to Medicare for All,” Sean McElwee, co-founder of Data for Progress told The Daily Beast. “The base is ready. When a primary challenger emerges, I’d bet on them.”

And Moulton is far from alone in this scenario.


McElwee also indicated that a number of other incumbent Democrats like Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) will be polled in possible match-ups.

“We’re currently in the field against right-wing Democrats like Cuellar, who have enabled the right wing while knee-capping progressives,” he said.

Now’s the Time for Automatic Voter Registration in New York

Michael Gianaris and Sean McElwee, Gotham Gazette  

New York routinely has some of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country. In 2018, New York ranked 48th in turnout. Also important to this discussion is that in the midst of the 2016 election, upwards of 200,000 voters were illegally purged from the voter rolls in Brooklyn due to errors at the New York City Board of Elections.


The idea behind AVR is simple: instead of putting the burden of registering to vote on individuals, the state automatically registers them when they interact with government agencies and they can elect not to participate if they so choose. Here’s an example of how it would work.

When an eligible voter goes to the DMV or enrolls in Medicaid, he or she is already supplying a variety of data – name, birthdate, address, etc. From that single interaction, New Yorkers can and should be able to sign up for the service they’re seeking and register or update their voting information.

EXCLUSIVE: New Group Pushing Automatic Voter Registration in New York

Kenneth Lovett, New York Daily News

Called AVR NOW, the group will focus on passage of state legislation creating automatic voter registration.

AVR NOW is part of a progressive think tank, Data for Progress, and will be headed by that group’s co-founder, Sean McElwee.

New York’s voting laws have long been considered Byzantine and the state has among the lowest turnout rates in the country.

“This session in Albany, we have a simple choice: either keep a broken status quo and tolerate chronically dysfunctional elections or move into the future by ensuring our voting laws work for everyone,” McElwee said.

AVR NOW points out that about 200,000 voters were illegally purged from voter rolls in Brooklyn during the 2016 elections due to errors at the New York City Board of Elections.

Supporters say automatic voter registration boosts turnout, delivers more accurate registration data and expands fairness in elections.

The bill would automatically add a person’s name to the voter rolls when they interact with state government agencies—unless the potential voter specifically opts out.

Progressives Set to Push Their Agenda in Congress and on the Campaign Trail. The GOP Can't Wait.

Benjy Sarlin, NBCNews

The spread of “Abolish ICE” showed how fast an idea can spring up from anywhere, rise to prominence online and turn into actual legislation on the Democratic side and attack ads on the Republican.

Immigration activists had long protested ICE's deportations dating back to its founding in 2003, but their demands became crystallized in a slogan by Data for Progress co-founder Sean McElwee, who relentlessly promoted ‘Abolish ICE’ on social media.

Within months, Democratic candidates were getting grilled on the concept and some were rushing to take ownership of the idea and translate it into policy. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, worked on a bill that would fold ICE's operations into other agencies.

Green New Deal: What is the Progressive Plan, and is it Technically Possible?

Emily Holden, The Guardian

Other groups have floated a more flexible vision. Greg Carlock, an energy expert writing for the group Data for Progress, proposed reaching 100% clean or renewable energy in 15 years, allowing more time to decarbonize other sectors.

The Green New Deal, Explained

David Roberts, Vox

The first and thus far only serious effort to fill out the policy side came in a report from Greg Carlock at the upstart think tank Data For Progress. But even that report is less a specific set of policy choices than an extensive policy menu — a set of options for each of the program’s large-scale goals, everything from building standards to new techniques in agriculture to investments in transit. It is something like a detailed snapshot of the policy landscape, from which an architect could bricolage together a plan.


Data for Progress has done extensive polling on a green jobs guarantee. It has found that a green jobs guarantee outpolls a straight jobs guarantee, especially among young people. It even brings Trump voters almost (but not quite) up to majority approval.


“Green jobs are overwhelmingly popular with voters. This is the future,” says Data for Progress co-founder Sean McElwee. “The question is not if we get a Green New Deal. We will have a Green New Deal. The question is how much beautiful socialist bullshit we get out of it after we wrestle with the Blue Dogs.”

The Left Victories That Defined 2018––And Give Us Hope for the New Year

Marc Daalder, In These Times

And it wasn’t just universal healthcare. Another bold and transformative policy also gained enormous support this year: The Green New Deal. The plan, pushed by Ocasio-Cortez and others, would move the United States to 100 percent renewable energy through a transition away from fossil fuels, infrastructure improvements, a massive public jobs programs and other major policy changes. A poll from Data for Progress in September put support for a Green New Deal at 55 percent, but a more recent survey showed the proposal with 81 percent behind it, including strong bipartisan backing. And 35 members of Congress have now come out in support of the plan.

Why the Time has Come for a Green New Deal

Katrina Vanden Heuvel, The Washington Post

How refreshing it is to hear environmental champions saying “yes!” to ideas. Too often, the green message has been negative — don’t build that pipeline, don’t hurt that critter — without offering a corresponding positive vision, thus feeding the perception that environmentalism is for elites who can afford to sacrifice. By contrast, a Green New Deal is shrewdly packaged, leaves little doubt about its purpose and, polls show, is popular with the public. A new Yale survey found that a Green New Deal is supported by a staggering 81 percent of registered voters.

Green New Deal Has Overwhelming Bipartisan Support, Poll Finds. At Least, For Now.

Alexander C. Kaufman, Huffington Post

The findings mirror survey results released Monday that found major support for a green jobs program across political ideologies, including party loyalists and those who move between parties. Those who say they support a green jobs program include:

  • 98 percent of loyal Democrats;

  • 66 percent of loyal Republicans;

  • 96 percent of voters who cast ballots for President Barack Obama in 2012, President Donald Trump in 2016 and Democrats in the 2018 midterms;

  • 93 percent of voters who cast ballots for Obama, then Trump, then Republicans in 2018.

The polling, published in The New York Times, came from Data for Progress, the left-leaning think tank behind the most comprehensive blueprint for a Green New Deal to date.

As Climate Change Moves to Front of 2020 Agenda, Democrats Shift Message to Impact on Jobs

Michael Scherer, The Washington Post

“There is no doubt that there has been some movement now that [congressional] offices are being occupied,” said Sean McElwee, a co-founder of Data for Progress, a group that drafted an early version of the Green New Deal in September. “The reason offices are being occupied is because for a long time it seemed like we were heading into the 2020 presidential primary with no one talking about this.”

Is a Green New Deal Possible Without a Revolution?

Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

To the median Democrat, a Green New Deal is just a fancy name for an infrastructure bill that includes significant investments in renewable energy, and climate resiliency. To the progressive think tank Data for Progress, it’s a comprehensive plan for America to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, through a combination of massive public investment in renewables, smart grids, battery technology, and resiliency; turbocharged environmental regulations; and policies that promote urbanization, reforestation, wetland restoration, and soil sustainability — all designed with an eye toward achieving full employment, and advancing racial justice.

Why Democrats Must Embrace Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” Proposal

Paul Rosenberg, Salon

It’s not just that drastic action is needed. The basic idea of a New Green Deal is wildly popular. There was 70 percent support for “Green New Deal — Millions Of Clean-Energy Jobs” in the “Big Ideas” poll commissioned by the Progressive Change Institute in January 2015. This year, Data for Progress advanced its own, more detailed Green New Deal Plan, with polling showing related political appeal: In Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — key to Trump’s 2016 election — voters were more, rather than less, likely to support a candidate "who supports moving the United States to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030" by  32, 27 and 26 points, respectively.

“Green New Deal combines two things voters love: the environment and jobs,” Data for Progress co-founder Sean McElwee told Salon. “Pundits are trapped in a framework in which the environment is pitted against jobs, which is silly,” he said.


While dealing with climate change is the key component, the Data for Progress plan more specifically highlights a broader range of environmental and environmental justice needs. It cites lead exposure and asthma as prime concerns. It notes that “there are at least 4 million children living in households exposed to high levels of lead and half a million children with high blood lead levels,” with disproportionately high levels of exposure for black and low-income children. In addition, one in 13 Americans have asthma, while black Americans are "nearly twice as likely to suffer from asthma, and three times as likely to endure hospitalization,” with air pollution as a significant environmental trigger for symptoms.

The Secret to Winning in 2020

David Leonhardt, The New York Times

A fascinating analysis of the midterms was published a few weeks ago. It focused on the fraction of people who voted for Barack Obama in 2012, Donald Trump in 2016 and a Democratic House candidate in 2018 — that is, the national winners in all three elections.

This group is mostly white, mostly without a college degree and disproportionately rural, according to the analysis, by YouGov Blue and Data for Progress. On social issues, the group’s attitudes look pretty Republican. Many of its members think sexism isn’t that big of a problem, for instance. They express anxiety about demographic change and favor tighter border security.

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These are the sort of voters that some Democrats had written off as irredeemable racists. But that’s a terrible mistake.

On economic issues, swing voters look decidedly un-Republican. They are even more populist than loyal Democrats. By a wide margin, they favor free college, a big expansion of Medicare and federal action both to reduce drug prices and to create jobs.

“These voters want leaders who are going to look out for them,” Alissa Stollwerk of YouGov told me. Trump persuaded many voters that he was their ally by running a racially focused campaign. Democrats have already shown they can win back a meaningful share of them by running an economically focused campaign.

'Never Trump' Republicans went Democrat in 2018. Are they gone for good?

Benjy Sarlin, NBC News

Brian Schaffner, a professor of political science at Tufts University, analyzed pre-midterm surveys collected by liberal analytics firm Data For Progress and found a clear trend: The more voters showed concern about “hostile sexism” in their questions, the more likely they were to vote for Democratic House candidates. This relationship held even while controlling for other factors like partisanship and ideology.

While that might sound intuitive, surveys in 2016 found that attitudes toward sexism only affected respondents' choice for president, not their vote for Congress. The shift in 2018 suggests Trump's brand has started to drag down the party as a whole.

“I do think this is a major reason why college-educated white women swung more Democratic in this election,” Schaffner said in an email. “That group tends to register the lowest levels of sexism of any other group and since sexism was a predictor of the House vote in this election, it seems to be something that has pushed them away from voting for Republican House candidates.”

Democrats Are Finally Fighting for the States—and on Election Night, They Won Big

Joan Walsh, The Nation

Perhaps the most significant result of the 2018 state elections is that the groups who declared their intentions to work on them last year showed up and got results. That list includes the powerful Democratic women’s PAC Emily’s List; the fledgling Run for Something, which recruits millennials for state and local races; longtime player DailyKosand the upstart Data for Progress (both of which raised roughly $900,000 for state legislative candidates); Flippable and the People PAC, which made 200 videos for candidates in six states; the data-driven EveryDistrictSisterDistrict, which matched blue-district volunteers and donors with promising but underfunded red-district challengers; and newcomers like Forward Majority and the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, both founded by Obama-administration alums to focus on states with redistricting implications. All told, the new groups put millions of dollars and dozens of staffers into flipping state races, alongside a beefed-up DLCC.

What is the Green New Deal progressives in Congress want?

Brenden Gallagher, Daily Dot

DFP has put together the most comprehensive policy proposal around the Green New Deal to date. In the introduction to their 40-page report on the subject, authors Greg Carlock, Emily Mangan, and Sean McElwee describe the Green New Deal as, “a broad and ambitious package of new policies and investments in communities, infrastructure, and technology to help the United States achieve environmental sustainability and economic stability.”

The key principle behind the Green New Deal is that just as FDR’s New Deal was a massive economic project responding to a financial catastrophe, a similar environmental and economic project is necessary to respond to environmental catastrophe. The time for incremental change is over. The time has come for serious, meaningful action.

How Your Political Donations Can Actually Make a Difference in This Year’s Midterms

Luke O’Neil, The Observer

“We raised $580,000. That is a rounding error to Beto O’Rourke,” McElwee, perhaps best known for his role in jumpstarting the #abolishICE movement, said. The Give Smart organizers originally thought they might raise $20,000 to $30,000 and would have been happy with that.

“To these candidates, $10,000 is ‘Do I have enough canvassers to hit all the doors I need to knock?,’ ‘Do I have enough money to put in that final mailer?’ Your money can go a lot further and you can meaningfully change something,” McElwee explained. “If you’re donating to the right candidate, it could be the pivotal race in a lot of these chambers. A lot of them are going to be very tight.”

The idea behind their fundraising effort materialized because they realized something somewhat disheartening: Most people don’t really know much about, or pay a lot of attention to, the races happening in their own backyards and certainly not the important ones in states far away. It’s not that people don’t want to help out in these smaller but pivotal races, they often just don’t know where to look.

“Everyone knows the pivotal House districts that are the most competitive and where your money can go the furthest, and everyone can figure that out with the Senate, but when you’re talking about the Arizona State Senate, who the hell knows which districts are more likely to determine control and which are winnable and which candidates need your help?” McElwee continued. “That’s difficult to find.”

The Trailer: The Left

Dave Weigel, Washington Post

On Oct. 16, the left-wing think tank Data for Progress announced a new micro-targeted campaign: Give Smart. The idea was to identify a few state and local races where sudden cash infusions, the sorts that might get lost in a Senate campaign's FEC report, could put liberal candidates over the line. 

"We looked over which were the most likely chambers to flip, and which were the most pivotal," said Data for Progress founder Sean McElwee. "We had no contact with any of the candidates."

As of Saturday, Give Smart had raised $480,000 for eight candidates, with plans of adding a few more to the list before ending the campaign this week. Candidates in state legislature races in Colorado, Florida, Arizona, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and New York who were endorsed by the project woke up to find tens of thousands of dollars in new money, routed through the liberal donation portal ActBlue. 

"I was surprised at how they freaked out at the money they were getting, because I assumed someone was doing this," McElwee said. "How are these candidates having trouble hitting their targets, when we know these districts are going to be decisive?"

Small Donors Suddenly Pour In To Flip Eight State-Level Seats - And Legislatures

Ryan Grim, The Intercept

Data for Progress’s call for donations is a money-ball approach to politics, getting the most bang for the least buck. At the state level, small amounts of money can go a long way. Kristin Bahner’s entire campaign, said Winkel, had hoped to raise $42,000, a number they were coming close to, but weren’t likely to hit. With this grassroots intervention of $15,000 and counting, she said, they’ve exceeded it.

Now the campaign is looking at hiring not one, but five canvassers and putting out digital ads. It’s also considering whether there’s enough time before the election to send a piece of mail around the district, and there’s even talk of a radio ad.

Canceling Student Debt Would Stimulate the Economy—and Voter Turnout

Richard Eskow and Sean McElwee, The Nation

Data for Progress polled on legislation, currently co-sponsored by 19 members of Congress, that would reverse Trump’s tax cuts and use the money recouped to finance the zeroing out of outstanding federal student-loan debt. The survey found this a popular idea, with net positive support of 6 percent (41 percent in support, 35 percent opposed) overall. Most important to the current political moment, it has strong support (55 percent in support, 25 percent opposed) among student-debt holders, a group that makes up approximately one in five potential voters. Student-debt holders are more progressive than the general public, but they also report that they are less enthusiastic about voting in this year’s elections, according to our polling. The political message seems clear: Student debt is a potent issue that has the potential to drive turnout and influence votes, in 2018 and beyond. Individuals holding student debt may well decide which party will control the House of Representatives next session.

'This is war': The fight to impeach Brett Kavanaugh is about to become a defining issue of the 2018 elections — and beyond

Allan Smith, Business Insider

"Brett Kavanaugh is a predator, and the American public knows it," Sean McElwee, a progressive activist who founded the think tank Data for Progress, told Business Insider. "His appointment is a lifetime appointment only if progressives give up the fight."

McElwee said progressives who spend millions on Senate seats should be willing to spend "even more on Supreme Court seats."

"Pretend Kavanaugh is up for reelection every day of his life," he said. "Disrupt his life, poll his approval, run ads attacking his record. Dig up opposition research and keep it in the media."


Doubling Down On Sexism Won’t Help Republicans In The Midterms

Sean McElwee, Huffpost

Working with Data for Progress co-founder Jon Green and Data for Progress Senior Adviser Meredith Conroy, I found that ― controlling for education, age, race, party preference and income ― a respondent’s sexism score strongly predicted whether or not they supported Kavanaugh’s confirmation. The chart below shows that regardless of a respondent’s party preference on the Generic Congressional Ballot (GCB), support for Kavanaugh was strongly associated with sexism.

Surveys prior to Friday’s hearing consistently showed that support for Kavanaugh was much lower among women than among men, and support for him has polarized across gender. It’s also not just public opinion: Data provided to Data for Progress from Be A Hero’s Crowdpac campaign suggests women make up a disproportionate share of the donors to fund Sen. Susan Collins’ opponent should Collins vote for Kavanaugh. “We’re calling on Collins to do one simple thing: believe survivors. If she refuses, we’ll make sure there’s a candidate who does in 2020 and will fund them to the tune of $2,000,000,” said Marie Follayttar, executive director of Mainers for Accountable Leadership, which partnered with Maine People’s Alliance to build the strategy.

It's Time To Go To War With The Supreme Court. Here's How.

Sean McElwee, Buzzfeed

Progressives should be concerned about a far-right Supreme Court majority, but we cannot despair — we have options. Because of its institutional weakness, the court is constrained by public opinion and by elite opinion. Now is the time for activist groups to assemble a constant war footing toward the court.

That in itself would be a major change, because for a long time the court was largely seen as an honest broker among Democrats. Research from Data for Progress suggests one reason why: Democrats tend to talk about the court in positive terms and mostly discuss the court when it issues decisions that liberals like, such as on the issue of marriage equality. In contrast, Republicans have historically rallied their base by highlighting the court’s abortion jurisprudence, which they despise, while saying very little about the consistently pro-corporate decisions that form the core of conservative judicial activism.

Democrats Fear the Party’s Kavanaugh Obsession Could Backfire

Lachlan Markay, Asawin Suebsaeng, Gideon Resnick and Sam Stein, The Daily Beast

"We're seeing an incredible mobilization of women to fund grassroots campaigns to take down the people responsible for putting a sexual predator on the [Supreme] Court,” remarked Sean McElwee, co-founder of the progressive think tank Data for Progress. “Pundits are often dismissive of the idea that these votes will have consequences two or four years away. By banking the fucking rage that people are feeling with this fraudulent vote, activists are ensuring that a wrong decision will linger over the re-election bids of these senators for years to come."

Women Are Funding a Campaign to Unseat Susan Collins if She Votes for Kavanaugh

Marie Solis, Broadly

According to new data from policy research firm Data for Progress, released exclusively to Broadly, there's a rough 60–40 gender split among the donors, with women making up 58.4 percent of the donor pool, and men, 39.8 percent. A little more than two percent couldn't be determined.

Data for Progress arrived at these findings using data provided to its researchers by Crowdpac, the progressive political crowdfunding group that started the campaign in August, a few weeks out of Kavanaugh's Senate confirmation hearings.

Can the US Provide a Public Option for Prescription Drugs?

Joel Dodge and Sean McElwee, The Nation

As Democrats wonder how to win back the voters they have lost in recent years, a public-minded policy on generic drugs presents a useful path forward. Polling by Data for Progress (full disclosure: McElwee is one of its founders), found that government production of generic drugs (even if it required revoking private pharmaceutical patents) has net support among Trump voters of +16 points (47 percent in support, 31 percent opposed).

In addition, Democrats have been seeking policies that could help them win back some of the Obama voters that swung to Trump in 2016. These voters tended to be disproportionately rural and without a college degree. Our polling suggests that generic pharma has net support of +37 (50 percent in support, 13 percent opposed) among whites with a high-school education or less. Among rural whites, net support was +36 (56 percent in support, 20 percent opposed).

Progressives have spent too much time trying to win voters with tweaks to the system—tweaks voters often don’t notice. It’s time for policies that directly affect their lives, policies people have a stake in, policies constituents will vote to defend.

Democrats are embracing a radical change to US healthcare, and it could be the defining political fight for years to come

Eliza Relman and Bob Bryan, Business Insider

"Americans tend to dislike the idea of big government, but they like specific big government programs. By tying universal healthcare to popular programs like Medicare and Medicaid, progressives can build support for a massive expansion of the social safety net," Data for Progress cofounder Sean McElwee told Business Insider.

In a testament to Medicare's popularity, Republicans are attacking Medicare for All by arguing the plan would "raid Medicare to pay for socialism," as Trump put it during an August rally.

Most Americans Think We Can Save the Planet and Create Jobs at the Same Time

Brian Kahn, Gizmodo

“We know what to do, we just have to do it, and progressives have taken up the mantle on ambitious climate action,” Greg Carlock, a senior advisor to Data for Progress who led the report, told Earther.

The Data for Progress report lays out a wide array of principles for how to achieve a more equitable future while transitioning to a low carbon economy. A smattering of the big ideas include getting the U.S. to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 and zero net emissions by 2050, a green jobs guarantee, guaranteeing access to affordable drinking water, replacing lead-laden pipes, and reforesting 40 million acres of public land by 2035.

If it sounds ambitious, that’s by design. A guiding principal of the Green New Deal is that half measures won’t work. We need a low carbon economy ASAP and we need the energy transition to take place in a just, inclusive manner.

Should America #AbolishICE?

Gillian Friedman, Deseret News

Sean McElwee, founder of the liberal think tank Data for Progress, was the first person to use the hashtag #AbolishICE on Twitter in February 2017.

McElwee said he isn’t particularly concerned about the poll results. He says the fact that a majority of Democrats don’t support #AbolishICE right now does not take into account the fact that the movement is growing and its popularity is increasing over time.

Why even moderate Democrats are moving left and changing what it means to be centrist

Alex Roarty, McClatchy

“There’s no doubt in my mind that Medicare For All is the major litmus test,” said Sean McElwee, co-founder of the progressive group Data for Progress. “It sort of subsumes everything in it — it has that tax angle, it has that universalism angle, it has that direct government assistance angle.”

Progressive candidates in the new Democratic Party, he added, must be comfortable using government to provide direct assistance to people.

“Where’s the difference between progressives and moderates? McElwee said. “Both say government has a role in economy. But a progressive is more likely to say, ‘You know what, we just need to give this to people.’”

Automatic voter registration would ease NY's problems at the polls

Sean McElwee, City and State

The political will is there. According to polling that is part of Data for Progress’ New Progressive Agenda Project, 53 percent of likely voters in New York support automatic voter registration, with only 32 percent opposed (the rest undecided). National surveys also paint a picture of a popular policy. And the base wants it. My polling of progressive influencers with Matt McDermott (the type of people who canvass and contact representatives) suggests that they place automatic voter registration as a top priority.

For Democrats, Minority Women Are the Ideal Candidates

Cameron Easley, Morning Consult

Sean McElwee, a Democratic activist and co-founder of Data for Progress, a progressive think tank, said those victories spoke to the power of descriptive representation, where constituents want their elected officials to represent them from a demographic perspective, rather than just on matters of policy.

“The biggest divide between the establishment of the party and of the base is actually descriptive, rather than ideological,” he said in a phone interview last week.

The public thinks the Supreme Court is more liberal than it is

Tara Golshan, Vox

But a 2016 Harvard University-designed survey, the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, found a quarter of Republicans saw the Supreme Court as “very liberal” or “liberal,” whereas only a fifth of Democrats saw the Court as “very conservative” or “conservative.” This was first pointed out by Sean McElwee, a researcher with the progressive think tank Data for Progress. Between 2014 and 2016, there was a shift among Democrats, more of whom saw the Supreme Court as “middle of the road.”

Political scientists like George Washington University’s John Sides attributed this misconception to the Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage and upholding the Affordable Care Act.

Women Are Funding a Campaign to Unseat Susan Collins if She Votes for Kavanaugh

Marie Solis, Broadly

According to new data from policy research firm Data for Progress, released exclusively to Broadly, there's a rough 60–40 gender split among the donors, with women making up 58.4 percent of the donor pool, and men, 39.8 percent. A little more than two percent couldn't be determined.

Data for Progress arrived at these findings using data provided to its researchers by Crowdpac, the progressive political crowdfunding group that started the campaign in August, a few weeks out of Kavanaugh's Senate confirmation hearings.

Voters Are Ready for a Green New Deal. Are Democrats?

Eric Levitz, New York

Most remarkable, however, were the results of DFP’s original polling, which it conducted in partnership with YouGov Blue. When asked whether they would “support or oppose giving every American who wants one a job scaling up renewable energy, weatherizing homes and office buildings, developing mass transit projects, and maintaining green community spaces,” 55 percent of respondents said yes, while just 18 percent said no — making a “green jobs” guarantee slightly more popular than a generic version of the proposal (i.e., a jobs guarantee without an environmental angle). What’s more, 51 percent of voters said they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported a green jobs guarantee, while just 20 percent said they’d be less likely to do so. Meanwhile, the idea of massively expanding “big government” — for the sake of subsidizing big coal’s competitors — was only a single percentage point underwater with voters who backed Donald Trump in 2016.

The Democratic Party Is Changing Forever. New York Just Showed Us How.

Sean McElwee, Huffpost

Kevin Morris an urban planning student at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service, analyzed precinct figures for Data for Progress and found an incredibly strong pattern: Where turnout surged, the challengers did best. “New York state’s conservative leadership relies on suppressing turnout, but where that was overcome last night, progressive candidates triumphed,” he told me. The charts below show the election night results (available here) as a share of active registered Democrats (excluding inactive).

Democrats Need Voters’ Help To Fix Gerrymandering. Will They Get It?


Rachel Cohen, Talking Points Memo

In 2016 Gallup found 63 percent of Americans support automatic voter registration, and 80 percent favor early voting. More recent data from Civis Polling as part of the Data for Progress New Progressive Agenda Project found that 48 percent of likely 2018 voters support automatic voter registration, 37 percent oppose, and 15 percent aren’t sure. When so-called Democratic “influencers” (referring to involved party activists) were asked to pick their top political priorities from a list of almost a dozen issues, two of the top three most highly ranked issues were related to strengthening voting rights.

Sean McElwee, co-founder of Data for Progress, put it this way: “The way to think about voting reforms is that these policies don’t wildly motivate voters — that’s sort of a fantasy — but what is real is that the people who do not vote like progressive stuff.” Progressives should support making it easier to vote, McElwee says, partly “because it will increase turnout in our elections, and will create more space for progressive ideas.” In other words, making it easier to vote will bring in more marginal voters who lean further left than the historically more consistent voter.

Alexander C. Kaufman, Huffpost

The survey ― commissioned by the left-leaning think tank Data for Progress and the advocacy groups Sunrise Movement and 350 Action and shared with HuffPost ― found 55 percent of eligible American voters support federal funding for guaranteed employment. But the percentage of voters who opposed the policy decreased from 23 percent to 18 percent when those guaranteed jobs are green.

Trump voters in particular viewed a green jobs guarantee more favorably, with 35 percent in support and 36 percent opposed. By comparison, just 30 percent of Trump voters supported a guaranteed job without an environmental focus, while 45 percent opposed.


“Progressives can run on green jobs literally anywhere,” said Sean McElwee, the co-founder of Data for Progress. “It’s time to stop looking to the center and look to the movements among young progressives for environmental justice.”

Democrats’ Drama On Fossil Fuel Money Shows A Radical Green Jobs Plan Could Be A Win-Win

Alexander C. Kaufman, Huffpost

The data showed similar support for strengthening enforcement of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, even if it meant fewer U.S. jobs. Fifty percent of Obama-and-Trump voters said they would back such regulations, a number that rose to 77 percent among voters who picked Obama and then sat out the 2016 election, and 83 percent for Obama-and-Clinton voters.

Sean McElwee, the co-founder of Data for Progress, said preliminary analysis of as-yet-unreleased polling his group plans to publish in the coming weeks “suggests a green jobs guarantee may be more popular than a jobs guarantee in general.”

“Look, we know guaranteed jobs are popular, and we know that green issues are popular,” he said by phone Friday. “It makes sense that putting them together would also be popular.”

Time Is Running Out, So Why Aren't Democrats Yelling About Climate Change?

Zeeshan Aleem, Vice

The key to making climate an issue everyone cares about, climate policy experts say, is to connect it to people’s lives—make it tangible and offer a positive vision of the future to the public. Both Weber and Noisecat say that a “Green New Deal” —a term that’s being used by rising democratic socialists like New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—is the most promising frame for tackling climate change. The idea is to move away from austere-sounding rhetoric about cutting emissions and instead talk about how a more sustainable economy can offer opportunity to all.

There are even indications that the federal jobs guarantee programs that some 2020 contenders are eyeing could be fused with a Green New Deal program. According to new polling data from Data for Progress and the Sunrise Movement, a green jobs guarantee appears slightly more popular among both Trump and Hillary Clinton voters than a non-green jobs guarantee.

As the progressive push for big spending grows, so does the Democratic divide on the deficit

Benjy Sarlin, NBC News

Some activists think the public is ready for this conversation. Sean McElwee, co-founder of Data for Progress, recently released survey data on ideas like expanded public housing, free tuition at public colleges, and paid leave that were paired with proposals to raise income tax on households making over $200,000 and payroll taxes by 0.2 percent. He estimates they'd find majority support in most congressional districts.

"I'm not afraid of taxes," McElwee told NBC News. "Our argument is that the American people have been so beaten down by capitalism, so [hurt] by the system, that if you offer them a progressive policy it doesn't matter how much Republicans scream about taxes, you can still win. And the data show that."


The Left Is Winning Even When It Loses

Sean McElwee, Jon Green and Colin McAuliffe, The Nation

We polled worker codetermination or employee governance, the idea that workers should have representation on company board of directors. The idea is radical in the United States context, but the practice is common in Europe. “Worker codetermination may well be the most popular policy that currently exists in American politics,” David Shor, head of data science at Civis Analytics’ political practice tell us, “This is the most popular policy we’ve tested for the New Progressive Agenda Project and one of the most popular policies we’ve ever seen, particularly relative to other labor issues.”

The Radical Labor Policy That Every Democrat Should Run On

Eric Levitz, New York

For a while now, the progressive think tank Data for Progress (DFP) has been commissioning national polls on far-left ideas, and then applying state-of-the-art demographic modeling techniques (i.e., the ones used by well-funded political campaigns) to estimate the likely level of support for said policies in every state and district in the country. With the help of the data science firm Civis Analytics, DFP recently ran the concept of worker co-determination by the American public, and found that the proposal has a positive approval rating in 100 percent of the nation’s states and congressional districts.

Our worker co-determination work also appeared in Roosevelt Institute, Vox and Current Affairs

The Democratic Party Has Two Futures

Thomas Edsall, New York Times

The phenomenon described by Hall and Thompson may well be on target, but there is another possibility raised by Sean McElwee, co-founder of Data For Progress, which describes itself as “the think tank for the future of progressivism.”

McElwee and his colleagues developed a poll that they maintain shows strong support for policies that others have criticized as too extreme. In effect they contend that Democrats can support many progressive policies without paying a penalty from moderates, because those policies now have mainstream backing: “We find that the punditry has vastly underestimated the potential of an unabashedly left progressive agenda.”

The Data For Progress survey, conducted by YouGov Blue, polled 1515 adults July 13-16 and found, the authors assert, strong public support for ending cash bail except for those who “were a violence or flight risk” (45 percent support, 24 oppose); “having the government produce generic versions of lifesaving drugs, even if it required revoking patents held by pharmaceutical companies” (51-21); and “federal funding of community job creation for any person who can’t find a job” (55-23).

The Straightforwardly Popular Ideas of the Radical Left

Osita Nwanevu, Slate

The rise in support for single-payer health care among the American public is at this point an old story. Polling on some of the newer ideas animating the Democratic Party’s rising left has been more scarce, although a new firm, Data for Progress, has been working to bring more data to the debates over the party’s direction. They made a splash earlier this year with a poll showing that a 52 percent majority of likely voters backed the idea of a federal job guarantee.

Last week, the group released results from eligible-voter polling on a number of left-leaning policy ideas, which showed that majorities support “community job creation” for anyone who can’t find employment (54 percent), having the government produce generic life-saving drugs (51 percent), and the creation of a public internet utility for those without internet access (56 percent), a proposal currently being pushed by progressive Michigan gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed. Ending cash bail, a criminal justice reform issue taken up recently by both Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, has plurality support among eligible voters at 46 percent.

Sean McElwee, New York Times

I have also analyzed Voter Study Group data, which provides some insight into why the movement to abolish ICE has taken hold among so many Democratic voters. The survey is a panel, meaning it interviews the same group of individuals at two points in time. I looked at white Democrats who identified as Democrats in both surveys. In 2011, 60 percent of white Democrats supported a path to citizenship, 24 percent were opposed and 16 percent weren’t sure. In 2016, 74 percent favored a path to citizenship, 16 percent were opposed and the rest didn’t know.

The Voter Study Group also asks respondents whether undocumented immigrants make a contribution to society or are a drain on it. In 2011, 40 percent of white Democrats said undocumented immigrants make a contribution, 16 percent said neither and 31 percent said “mostly a drain” (the rest were unsure). By 2016, 61 percent of white Democrats said undocumented immigrants made a contribution, 10 percent said neither and 22 percent said mostly a drain.

The DFP survey further documents overwhelming support for “the creation of a publicly-owned internet company to fill coverage gaps in rural, urban, or remote areas that currently lack robust Internet access.” Some 56 percent of voters support that concept, while just 16 percent oppose. Trump voters and rural Americans both support this “big government” takeover of internet provision — net approval of the policy among rural voters was a whopping 44 percent.

What’s more, 55 percent of voters supported “the federal funding of community job creation for any person who can’t find a job,” with backing for that drastic expansion of public-sector employment once again strong in both urban and rural areas. Ending cash bail also enjoyed strong backing throughout the country.


Sean McElwee, Ganesh Sitaraman and Jon Green, The Nation

Support for “Internet for All” exists across a variety of relevant groups. Trump voters support the policy—43 percent in favor to 28 opposed. Nonvoters support the policy at a rate of 45 percent in favor to only 13 opposed. Working-class (non-college) whites, the voters Democrats have struggled with in 2016, support the policy 54 percent in support to 15 percent, as do working-class people of color (48 percent in support, 15 percent opposed). A whopping 77 percent of college-educated people of color support the policy.

The policy has strong support across geographic regions, with majorities of voters living in urban, suburban, and rural areas all reporting support for the proposal. Public Internet service is more popular in rural areas than urban or suburban ones—a rarity for progressive policies. The public option for the Internet has net support of 44 percent (56 percent in support, 11 percent opposed) among rural voters, 36 percent net support among suburban voters, and 41 percent net support among urban voters.

Could a Universal Basic Income Become a Political Reality?

Clio Chang, The Nation

But recent polling by the progressive think tank Data for Progress and YouGov Blue indicates that UBI might not be so politically far-fetched. The group conducted a survey asking over 1,500 nationally representative respondents whether they would support or oppose a policy that gave every American a monthly $1,000 check, which would be paid for by raising taxes on individuals earning more than $150,000.

The overall net response was negative 2 percent (38 percent somewhat or strongly supporting the idea versus 40 percent somewhat or strongly opposing it). But even when combined with a tax hike, giving every American $12,000 per year is significantly more popular than the Republican tax bill and polls about same as the Affordable Care Act in the year that it was passed.

Perhaps most telling is the split in opinion about UBI between working-class and wealthy Americans. For those with an annual income between $10,000 and $30,000, 47 percent support the policy, versus 24 percent who are opposed; not surprisingly, for those making more than $100,000, support drops to 27 percent, versus 59 percent opposed.

The first signs are emerging that the progressive campaign to abolish ICE is working

Eliza Relman, Business Insider

"These numbers prove that the movement to abolish ICE is destroying the agency's credibility," Sean McElwee, a left-wing activist and pollster who popularized the #AbolishICE twitter campaign, said of the polling in a message to Business Insider. "ICE's deportation machine is being ground to a halt by thousands of organized activists across the county and its political strength will only grow weaker with time and scrutiny."

Progressive pundits tend to agree with McElwee that the campaign has been successful.

"Abolish ICE a pretty good example of a calculated political risk that is paying off,"tweeted liberal columnist and Vox editor Matt Yglesias‏ on Tuesday.

Between January and May, there were an average of 3,600 tweets mentioning the hashtag or phrase "Abolish ICE." In the month of June, there were 77,000 such tweets, according to McElwee's organization Data for Progress . The spike in support for the campaign coincided with the Trump administration's implementation of its "zero tolerance" immigration policy, under which young migrant children were forcibly separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

Centrism Is Dead

Osita Nwanevu, Slate

Poll results also show broad support for the proposals now gaining traction among 2020 contenders and Democratic groups. In April, a Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation pollfound that 51 percent of Americans—and nearly a third of self-described “conservatives”—support single-payer health care, part of a trend leftward on the question that has been captured in multiple polls over the past few years. The Kaiser Family Foundation has found support jumps to about 60 percent when single payer is characterized as “Medicare for all.” A statistical analysis of KFF’s data by the new progressive think tank Data for Progress estimates that Medicare for all has majority support in 42 states and D.C.


Where is the American “great middle” that James Comey is talking about?

Andrew Joyce, Mic

“The most recent data suggest that 30% of Americans have a favorable view of Comey, while 59% of Americans support Medicare for All and a guaranteed job has majority support in every state in the country,” Sean McElwee, co-founder of the progressive data collective Data for Progress told Mic today. “The American public are far more supportive of socialist policies than Jim Comey.”


"Medicare for All has 54 percent support in the median state. Even in the state with the lowest support, Wyoming 45 percent support the policy. There are only eight states where Medicare for All doesn't hit majority support, and that's including don't knows in the equation (as not in support). If Medicare for All were on the ballot, it would win an electoral college landslide on par with Lydon Johnson."


We Measured Brett Kavanaugh's Likely Impact On The Court

Jordan Klein, Ian Samuel and Sean McElwee, Crooked


Data for Progress gathered data political scientists use to measure ideology to determine the ideologies of Supreme Court justices and map those ideologies on to a common space with politicians. These scores are called “Judicial Common Space” scores. The political scientist Lee Epstein developed the methodology, which allows us to estimate how much the Court’s ideology will shift. Epstein designed her estimates to be in line with roll call voting by members of Congress (normally measured using DW Nominate). Clearly, any attempt to compare judges to politicians, or even map ideology in one dimension will be fraught. But it still gives us a rough sense of ideology. We used the most recent Judicial Common Space scores, which are for the 2016 term. It is worth noting that Kennedy signed onto more right-wing decisions in his last term (such as Epic Systems and Janus) so the measure may overstate his liberalism. However, these data still give us a good sense of what is in store if and when Kavanaugh replaces him.

Ocasio-Cortez’s Socialism Can Work in the Midwest — With a Rebrand

Eric Levitz, New York

Both Medicare for All and single-payer health care enjoy majority support in recent polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Data for Progress (DFP), a progressive think tank, used demographic information from Kaiser’s poll to estimate the level of support for Medicare for All in individual states. Its model suggests that, in a 2014 turnout environment — which is to say, one that assumes higher turnout for Republican constituencies — a majority of voters in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania would all support a socialist takeover of the health-insurance industry (so long as you didn’t put the idea to them in those terms).

The Surprising Origins Of What Could Be The ‘Medicare For All’ Of Climate Change

Alexander C. Kaufman, Huffpost

It could be a winning strategy. Polls show that Americans overwhelmingly support efforts to reduce climate pollution and increase renewable energy capacity, even if it comes with a cost. Sixty-one percent of Americans who voted for Obama in 2012 and then for Trump in 2016 supported requiring a minimum amount of renewable fuels even if it increased electricity prices, according to Cooperative Congressional Election Study’s 2016 survey results analyzed for HuffPost by Data for Progress, a left-leaning think tank. That increased to 76 percent among voters who picked Obama in 2012 but sat out the 2016 race, and it surged to 85 percent among those who voted for both Obama and, in 2016, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton

The data showed similar support for strengthening enforcement of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, even if it cost U.S. jobs. Fifty percent of Obama-Trump voters said they would support such regulations, increasing to 77 percent among voters who picked Obama then sat out the 2016 election, and 83 percent for Obama-and-Clinton voters.

Democrats Must Stop Pretending the Supreme Court Is Apolitical

Sean McElwee, The Nation

My think tank, Data for Progress, has been studying messaging on the Supreme Court from elected Democrats, on social media and other channels. We found that Democratic senators tweet less frequently about the Supreme Court than Republicans. “In a political climate where Democrats have been relying on the integrity of the Court to serve as a check against a malicious executive branch and an ineffective legislative branch, Democrats seem to avoid discussion of the courts,” said Data for Progress senior adviser Hanna Haddad, who assembled a data set of every tweet from every senator from January 2017 through June 2018.

Jon Green, a co-founder of Data for Progress, studied tens of thousands of newsletters sent by members of Congress since mid-2009, which were compiled by political scientist Lindsey Cormack. “Democrats are less likely to mention the Supreme Court than Republicans. And when they do mention the Court, it is more often to celebrate liberal decisions than it is to alert their subscribers when the Court has sided with conservatives,” Green said. “If this pattern is consistent across other channels of communication between the party and its voters, it could contribute to a misperception of the Court’s ideological alignment among the Democratic base.”



Kamala Harris out front on new litmus test for Dems: What to do about ICE?

Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle

Sean McElwee, a political data expert who created the #AbolishICE hashtag in February 2017, has little patience for rhetorical moderation when it comes to immigration-law enforcement and says momentum is on the left’s side. He said his Data for Progress firm counted 3,600 tweets using the #AbolishICE hashtag in the first five months of the year — and 25,000 so far in June.

Our research on Abolish ICE were cited in New York, Washington PostRewire and Miami Herald



The movement to abolish ICE is growing as Trump administration ramps up immigration policies

Andrew Paul Joyce, Mic

The growing movement for the U.S. to do away with the agency, known as “Abolish ICE,” was actually gaining steam long before the Trump campaign announced its “zero tolerance” family separation policy on April 6, In recent weeks, the term has begun to appear more on social media.

An analysis by the progressive data collective Data for Progress provided exclusively to Mic shows that social media posts on platforms like Twitter containing the phrase “Abolish ICE” have spiked during the past month, as the Trump administration’s new policies have begun to cause controversy.

Data Analysis: Influx of Democratic Women Could Spell the Hyde Amendment’s Demise

Meredith ConroySean McElwee and Jon GreenRewire News

To answer this question, we specify two sets of predictions based on our model: one in which every House Democrat is replaced by a generic Democrat of their same gender, and one in which every House Democrat is replaced by a generic Democratic woman. In this first set of predictions, 110 of 193 current Democrats in the House represent districts where a generic replacement of the same gender would be “very likely” to support Hyde repeal. Thirty-eight represent districts where this generic replacement would be “likely” to support repeal, and 45 represent districts where their generic replacement would be “unlikely.”

In our second set of predictions, where we replace all members with generic Democratic women, the share of representatives we predict would support the repeal of the Hyde Amendment increases dramatically. If we replaced every House Democrat with a generic female representative, 95 percent of the caucus would be very likely or likely to vote to repeal Hyde, compared with 68 percent of the current caucus.

Kevin de Leόn Wants to Lead a New Democratic Party

Sean McElwee, The Nation

According to data from progressive think tank Data for Progress (I am a co-founder), 72 percent of Californians support giving the Environmental Protection Agency the power to regulate carbon dioxide and stricter fuel-efficiency standards (the state has been a leader on fuel standards). In addition, 69 percent support requiring minimum amounts of renewable fuels in the production of electricity “even if electricity prices increase somewhat,” and 63 percent support stronger enforcement “of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act even if it costs US jobs.” Even with an explicit jobs-versus-environment trade-off, the environment wins. And as de Leόn argues, this trade-off is more the invention of pollsters than an actual trade-off: “I want A New Green Deal era. Like the New Deal with FDR, this is a New Green Deal era.”

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Medicaid could be the key issue for Democrats hoping to win control of a crucial state in 2018

Andrew Paul Joyce, Mic

“Medicaid expansion is almost certainly more popular almost everywhere in the state than [Sens.] Marco Rubio, Ben Nelson, or [Gov.] Rick Scott,” said John Logan Ray, senior adviser to DFP and political science PhD candidate at UCLA.

“Its certainly more popular than the Florida legislature is at the moment,” he said. “None of our survey data could provide a single example of a Florida legislator whose popularity would be harmed by talking more about Medicaid expansion.”



New data shows low support for banning abortion across all U.S. states

Addy Baird, ThinkProgress

As Trump rallies anti-abortion advocates for the upcoming midterm elections, there is no state in the United States where support for banning abortion reaches even 25 percent, according to recent analysis.

The numbers were compiled using Congressional Election Studies data by the progressive Data for Progress, a group which collaborates with social scientists and data scientists to compile public information and “bring layers of nuance and depth to polling.”

Women are Running for Governor; Will They Win?

Meredith Conroy, The Blue Review

However, experts caution against over-estimating women’s success in 2018 because reports find men are running at higher rates as well. Additionally, many women running for Congress are running as challengers, instead of in open seats races. Open seat races are typically more competitive because there is not incumbent to unseat, therefore, experts suggest that many of the women running for Congress will lose their races. Yet women have been successful in primaries where races will be competitive. According to Data for Progress analysis of Daily Kos data, of the 29 primaries in competitive districts that have occurred so far, women have won 15 of them.

Medicaid Expansion Is The Key To A Progressive Revival

John Ray, Sean McElwee, Avery Wendell, Jason Ganz, Crooked

Our recent research suggests these assertive and vocal stances are, politically speaking, a wise approach. St. Leo University Polling Institute conducted a poll on Medicaid expansion in May 2015 including data allowing for precise geo-coding. Data for Progress, in collaboration with the local Indivisible groups, used this data to build a robust estimate of support for Medicaid expansion across various demographic groups as well as Florida’s congressional and state legislative districts using multilevel regression and poststratification (MRP), a method becoming increasingly standard in public opinion research, to give us estimates of support for Medicaid expansion for the 2018 electorate.


Medicaid expansion is popular in Florida. With approximately 65 percent support, the policy enjoys higher statewide approval than Rick Scott (approximately 50 percent), Marco Rubio (approximately 55 percent), or Bill Nelson (approximately 58 percent). Support for Medicaid expansion is highest among women, African-Americans, and voters who are low-income (earning less than $30,000 per year)—traditionally Democratic leaning constituencies. But even in traditionally more conservative demographics, the policy enjoys majority support. For instance, roughly 53 percent of white males reported supporting Medicaid expansion.


Our work on Florida's Medicaid expansion was also cited in Miami New Times and Washington Post

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Sean McElwee, New York Times

We’re witnessing a historically unprecedented shift left in opinions about race among Democratic voters. But is this the result of a change of heart or a sorting process in which racial conservatives leave the Democratic Party and racial liberals leave the Republican Party?

To study this, I used the Voter Study Group, a panel survey that re-interviewed individuals in 2016 who had previously been interviewed in 2011. By examining only individuals who identify as Democrats in both the baseline survey and the 2016 survey, I can weed out the possibility that the shift I’m measuring is due only to attrition. And indeed, on every question in the racial resentment battery, white Democrats were more likely to take the liberal position in 2016 than they were in 2011, often startlingly so.

In primary contests across the country, Democratic politicians are being held to an increasingly stringent standard on racial equity. In Colorado, Representative Diana DeGette faces a primary challenge from Saira Rao, an Indian-American lawyer who has called for defunding Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In Massachusetts, which has an all-white congressional delegation, Representative Mike Capuano faces a primary challenge from an African-American councilwoman in Boston, Ayanna Pressley.


The Rent Is Too Damn High, and Progressives Need to Do Something

Sean McElwee and Henry Kraemer, The Nation

Polling shows that support for affordable housing indeed bridges regional divides. Data for Progress used two polling questions commissioned by the Center for American Progress to model support for aggressive progressive housing policies. The first asked if respondents would support a proposal to “expand rental assistance for all low-income families spending more than half of their income on rent each month.” The other asked if respondents would be less likely to vote for a politician who “Cut funding for programs that provide access to affordable housing.”

This data suggests housing is an issue Democrats could use to overcome their geographic disadvantage, in which Democratic voters are clustered in urban areas. Colin McAuliffe, co-founder of Data for Progress, said Democrats could campaign on housing policy across the country because “in urban zip codes support for expanding rental assistance is 73 percent, compared with 71 percent in rural zip codes. In urban zip codes, 57 percent of respondents say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who cut rental assistance, compared with 52 percent in rural zip codes.”

Your Democrat Lawmaker Isn’t Supporting Cannabis Legalization If They’re Not On This List

Rob Hoffman, Herb

McElwee believes that marijuana reform is a necessary issue for Democratic lawmakers to get behind if they wish to represent their base and start winning elections—both on the local, state and federal level.

“Even in states like West Virginia, folks like Richard Ojeda see this as a very effective way to win over Trump voters.” Says McElwee. “It’s an amazing political issue for Democrats because it’s something that for one, you don’t have a ton of backlash. Two, it’s an issue in which the base is very united. And three, it’s one of those really key issues where you can play to the Obama-Trump voters, while also standing for racial justice, and also energizing those young voters that you need to win. So it’s a really, really sexy issue.”

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Sick People Want Government Healthcare, but They're Not Voting

Sean McElwee, Vice

This bias has vital implications for efforts to expand Medicaid, which have largely been blocked by Republican politicians in states they control ever since the expansion was authorized by the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Expanding Medicaid is overwhelmingly popular, even in these red states. But those who support Medicaid may not be voicing that support at the ballot box: One study that examined the potential of Medicaid expansion in Alabama found that a stunning two-thirds of the beneficiaries of Medicaid expansion were not registered to vote. In many cases, this exclusion in racially tinged. The chart below, from my think tank Data for Progress, shows the black and white gap in support for Medicaid expansion by state. Research suggests that these racial disparities in public opinion can explain the differential implementation of the Medicaid expansion.


Paul Ryan's Pyrrhic Victory

Sean McElwee, Avery Wendell, Colin McAuliffe and Jason Ganz, Crooked Media

Paul Ryan’s decision to retire from the House of Representatives at the end of this term has been depicted by his admirers as akin to a prizefighter going out on a high note. Less than five months ago, President Trump signed into law Ryan’s most significant legislative achievement, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), capping off a 20 year career in Congress, and allowing him to retire with what Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) called “Reagan-like achievements” under his belt.

However, analysis conducted by Data for Progress based on polls of both the Speaker’s ideas and his personal popularity belie this rosy narrative. The data reveal a stark truth: Ryan’s platform has almost never been less popular than it is now. Though the tax cut bill represents the more palatable half of Ryan’s agenda, it is still unpopular, and required Ryan to align himself with Donald Trump, at enormous cost to his carefully crafted, but undeserved reputation as an earnest wonk. In so doing, he also ensured that the future of the GOP belonged to Trump and an administration more concerned with cultural grievances than gutting the welfare state. Instead of laying the foundation for an age of fiscal conservatism, the tax bill more likely represents the last gasp of a failed trickle-down ideology.

The Roast of Paul Ryan was featured in Washington Post


Running the Numbers on the Ratio Champs of Congress

Sean McElwee, Avery Wendell, Jon Green, and Jason Ganz, Splinter

To explore the fabled ratio, our think tank, Data for Progresshas collected every tweet between January 1, 2017 and April 18, 2018 from each U.S. Senator to see how often they get ratio’d, which tweets of theirs generated the highest ratios, and how their ratios change over time. We found that Republicans are far more likely to be ratio’d than Democrats, and a handful of centrist Democrats are more likely to be ratio’d than their more liberal peers. Oh, and Mitch McConnell gets ratio’d on literally every other tweet he sends.

We find that for truly epic ratios, readers should accept no substitute: Republicans deliver consistently. Their ratio batting average is .318, meaning that one out of every three tweets sent by Republicans is brutally rejected by the general public. Democrats are ratio’d on just over 5 percent of their tweets. Further research will be required to determine if this extreme disparity is purely attributable to the Trump era—many of the most devastating ratios were earned by Republicans arguing in favor of their efforts to repeal Obamacare and cut rich people’s taxes—or if Republicans are simply penalized for existing in the younger, more liberal space that Twitter represents.

The Ratio Tracker was also featured on Pittsburgh City Paper. 


Democrats Are In Denial About The Supreme Court

Sean McElwee, Huffpost

Despite the Supreme Court coming down on the side of corporate power and against progressives on issues such as school busing, corporate money in politics, gun control, public financing, women’s reproductive freedom, health care and green energy, progressives’ perspective of a centrist court has grown in recent years.

For the last several years, the Cooperative Congressional Election Studies survey has asked individuals to place various institutions, including the Supreme Court on a 1 to 7 scale, with 1 being “very liberal” and 7 being “very conservative.” As the chart below shows, there was a recent spike in the share of Democrats believing the court was “middle of the road,” increasing from 2014 (28 percent) to 2016 (43 percent), with “don’t knows” excluded.

Booker, Sanders want to promise every American a job. Some Democrats are skeptical.

Jeff Stein, Washington Post

They also say the politics are on their side. Sean McElwee, an activist at the progressive polling and analysis firm Data for Progress, said 52 percent of the country supports a job guarantee, with just 29 percent opposed. The issue enjoys unusually high support from members of both parties, according to McElwee.

Can A Federal Jobs Guarantee Help Democrats Defeat Trump in 2020?

Marie Solis, Newsweek

There’s already widespread support for a federal jobs guarantee program among voters across the country, and—most notably—across the political spectrum, according to Sean McElwee and his colleagues at Data for Progress, a progressive polling and analysis firm. In March, they found that a majority of voters in all 50 states supported a jobs guarantee, even in states that went overwhelmingly to Trump. The state that polled lowest was Utah, where a solid 57-percent majority still said they would favor the proposal.

"If we’re speaking strictly about winning campaigns, running on jobs is 100 percent a smart move, and it’s 100 percent what Democrats should be doing,' Sean McElwee, a researcher and co-founder at Data for Progress, told Newsweek. 'Democrats can run on jobs without sacrificing other progressive causes."

McElwee cautioned Democrats against getting too excited about the number of Obama-turned-Trump voters they can win over with the policy—it’s still modest. But it’s enough to cut a path to victory in 2018, he says.

"If you can get back about one-third of Obama-Trump voters and energize non-voters, there you are," he said. "You’ve got your House majority."


Democrats Aren't Pushing This Popular Policy That Would Raise Wages

Sean McElwee, Jon Green and Colin McAuliffe, Vice

"Our model suggests that not only do a majority of voters back this idea, there is little geographic variation in support across the country, meaning that Democrats wouldn’t need to worry about a backlash from nationalizing the issue. As the chart below shows, there is no state where support for wage boards is not a supermajority. In addition, the wage board idea performs well in states like Utah and West Virginia, where Democrats have struggled to win voters."

Andrew Cuomo Faces A Big Test On Climate Change. He’s Already Failed Twice.

Alexander C. KaufmanHuffpost

New Yorkers overwhelmingly support environmental regulations even at an economic cost. Seventy-one percent of New Yorkers support expanding renewable energy generation even if it raises electricity prices, compared to 61 percent nationwide, according to Cooperative Congressional Election Study’s 2016 survey results analyzed for HuffPost by Data for Progress, a left-leaning think tank. That support cuts across demographics, including 75 percent of people aged 18 to 29 and 67 percent of people 65 years and older; 73 percent of urban dwellers and 67 percent of rural New Yorkers; and 74 percent of black people and 69 percent of whites.

Virginians Want a Medicaid Expansion. Will the Legislature Deliver?

Sean McElwee, Colin McAuliffe and Avery Wendell, The Nation

The results were unequivocal: Medicaid expansion is enormously popular across all districts. In every House of Delegates and State Senate district in Virginia, likely voters support Medicaid expansion, often by an overwhelming margin, with 66 percent and 67 percent supporting expansion in the median House of Delegates and State Senate districts respectively.

Our work on Virginia Medicaid expansion was covered in The Washington Post, Rewire and Daily Kos.


Democrats United Against Trump But Torn on Election Agenda

Sahil Kapur, Bloomberg

"Giving every person a job guarantee is pretty popular across the country," said Sean McElwee, a writer and activist who co-founded Data For Progress, which aims to push the Democratic Party in a more progressive direction.


Support for Trump’s foreign policy is tied to racial resentment, report shows

Andrew Paul Joyce, Mic

But as Trump looks for yes-men to fill the West Wing, a new report has found that the people who support those same impulses have one thing in common: an acceptance of racism.

According to a study released by the progressive collective Data for Progress, Americans who harbor feelings of racial resentment are more likely to support Trump’s preferred foreign policies.

This working paper was also covered at Fellow Travelers.



The Radical Proposal That Moderate Democrats Should Be Running On

Eric Levitz, New York

“The urban-rural divide in support for the job guarantee is practically nonexistent,” Colin McAuliffe, a co-founder of Data for Progress, told New York, in an email. “We estimate 69% support in urban zip codes vs 67% in rural ones. On the other hand, for $15 minimum wage we estimate 69% support in urban zip codes and 49% support in rural zip codes.”

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Why Democrats Should Embrace a Federal Jobs Guarantee

Sean McElwee, Colin McAuliffe and Jon Green, The Nation

For that reason, our think tank Data for Progress modeled state level support for guaranteed jobs using data provided to us by the Center for American Progress, with the help of Senior Advisor Austin Rochford. We find that the job guarantee polls stunningly well in all 50 states. Even in the state with the lowest modeled support, Utah, support is still 57 percent. Deep red states like West Virginia (62 percent support), Indiana (61 percent) and Kansas (67 percent) all boast strong support for a job guarantee. Indeed, the places where the job guarantee is most popular might be surprising: DC (84 percent), Mississippi (72 percent), North Carolina (72 percent), Hawaii (72 percent) and Georgia (71 percent) have the highest estimates, thought support is also high in solid blue states like California and New York (both 71 percent).

Our guaranteed jobs work was covered in Splinter, PoliticoThe Intercept, Mic, VoxThe Washington Post, Latino Rebels and The New York Times.


Medicaid expansion could be the key to red-state Democratic victories in 2018

Andrew Paul Joyce, Mic

“Our model fits well with state-level surveys, which show strong support for Medicaid expansion, even in deep-red states such as Kansas, South Dakota and Georgia, where support for rejecting expansion is at 41%, 42% and 43% respectively,” Data for Progress co-founder Colin McAuliffe said in a statement. “For reference, Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.) successfully ran a pro Medicaid expansion campaign in Virginia, where public opposition to expansion (42%) is comparable to these redder states,” he added.

‘Medicare for All’ has broad support — but pollsters worry that it hasn’t been tested

David Weigel, Washington Post

“We find that there are a number of states, such as New York, Illinois, Rhode Island and California, where there is majority support for Medicare for All but Democratic senators who have not signed on to S1804,” said Data for Progress’s Sean McElwee, giving the number for the Medicare legislation introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)