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, Vox, The 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.)