Memo: Favorability of Major Political Figures and Organizations in Battleground Districts

By: Sean McElwee of Data for Progress and Emily Bello-Pardo, John Ray, and Mark White of YouGov Blue

Executive Summary

  • On net, among voters in battleground districts, Ocasio-Cortez polls at least as well as other major Democratic figures. Although all political figures had negative net favorability, Ocasio-Cortez is viewed roughly as favorably on net as Joe Biden, and more favorably on net than President Donald Trump and Democratic leadership.

  • “Clean-energy companies” and “climate activists” both poll more favorably than “fossil fuel companies.” 

  • Senator Elizabeth Warren had the highest net favorable ratings among the presidential candidates we tested.

  • Each member of “the Squad”—Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib—has a higher net favorability than President Donald Trump, Senator Mitch McConnell, and the Republican Party in battleground districts. While Trump’s net favorability is lower, we note that his raw favorability is higher than each member of “the Squad.”

In order to ensure the reliability of our results, we asked Civiqs to replicate our results. That memo is available here.

Validation findings

  • Elizabeth Warren has the highest favorable rating of any Democrat in the battleground districts -- especially among Independents.

  • Independents in the battleground districts have a much more favorable opinion of Elizabeth Warren than Joe Biden.

  • Favorable ratings of Joe Biden and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are essentially the same in swing districts.

Memo: The Public Supports A Public Option For Drugs

On behalf of Data for Progress, YouGov Blue fielded a survey including an item asking voters whether they supported permitting Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices. Additionally, Data for Progress designed a message test to determine whether voters were more likely to support either policy reform allowing the manufacture of generic pharmaceutical drugs to help lower prices, or policy anchoring drug prices to prices in other countries if other countries’ prices are lower. This memo includes a full explanation of the item wording, sampling strategy, and weighting strategy.

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Memo: Climate Jobs Scorecards

By Mijin Cha, Data for Progress Senior Fellow

Executive Summary

The climate crisis cannot be ignored any longer. Climate change is happening now and immediate, bold action must be taken to stave off the worst impacts. Greenhouse gas emissions and other key pollutants must be drastically reduced in a short time frame. At the same time, we must act to protect workers and communities negatively impacted by the transition away from fossil fuels. Failing to do so will increase economic inequality and hardship for the very communities and workers that have sacrificed life and livelihood to provide the energy that built our economy.

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Memo: Bargaining the Green New Deal

By Jared Odessky, Data for Progress Legal Fellow

Executive Summary


News coverage of the Green New Deal portrays organized labor as a major obstacle to its enactment. But a new report from Data for Progress paints a different picture. Union members overwhelmingly favored the proposed reforms, with 62 percent in support and 22 percent against. Democratic voters prioritize turning out voters who stayed home in 2016 over persuading Trump voters.

In step with the rank-and-file, some union leaders have already backed the ambitious plan. In a resolution adopted by its executive board, the Service Employees International Union called the Green New Deal “an unprecedented opportunity to unite the fights for environmental, racial, and economic justice.” Los Angeles County Federation of Labor secretary-treasurer Rusty Hicks said the “framework is vital to fighting both” inequality and climate change. Association of Flight Attendants president Sara Nelson explained that it is “not the solutions to climate change that kill jobs,” but climate change itself.

Still, the current political climate in Washington means that passage of the Green New Deal is unlikely unless Democrats win back the presidency and the Senate, even as union support for the measure continues to grow. But labor leaders have a more immediate way to translate worker power into environmental victories: bargaining green union contracts.

Memo: How The First Debates Changed The Race

By the Data For Progress and YouGov Blue

Executive Summary

● Democratic voters do not share pundits’ view that the most “electable” candidate is the most moderate. Clear majorities of Democratic voters value honesty, knowledge, and leadership most—with less than half valuing “willingness to compromise.”

● Democratic voters prioritize turning out voters who stayed home in 2016 over persuading Trump voters.

● After the debate, Democratic voters’ preferences for who they “wished to be the nominee” and who they “predicted to be the nominee” moved closer together, indicating an increasing belief that a variety of candidates can win the nomination.

● Senator Kamala Harris saw the biggest gains after the debate, across various questions.

Memo: Messaging the Green New Deal

By the Pollux Group on Behalf of Data for Progress

Data For Progress sought to ascertain general perceptions of the Green New Deal among persuadable voter profiles, as well as determine which messages resonate most with particular groups of voter

Topline Findings

•The Green New Deal already has support from base Democrats, but there are pathways to expand its base of support among independent and persuadable voters.

•Base Dems are already on board: they understand the impending climate catastrophe and favor bold, structural solutions to solve it.

•Independents and swing voters can be swayed by focusing on local impacts and tangible benefits, such as clean air and clean water, as well as messaging about leaving a better world to the next generation.

•Economic benefits, especially job creation, were seen as especially strong selling points to independent and swing voters.

Memo: Green New Deal Support Among Union Members

We find most voters support the individual policies that comprise the Green New Deal. Clean air and clean water, sustainable agriculture and lead removal are especially popular, and could be used to win over swing voters in geographies where progressives often struggle.

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Memo: The Green New Deal is Popular

We find most voters support the individual policies that comprise the Green New Deal. Clean air and clean water, sustainable agriculture and lead removal are especially popular, and could be used to win over swing voters in geographies where progressives often struggle.

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Memo: The Current State Of The Democratic Primary

By Sean McElwee & John L Ray

In our survey, we sought to measure Democratic candidate selection in a way that accommodated the reality of a field consisting of almost thirty candidates, including some who have been in the race for months, others who have not. To do this, we asked voters to select as many candidates from a list as they wanted, rather than to simply choose one.

  • The candidate selected by the highest number of Democrats is Joe Biden, whom 49 percent of Democrats are currently thinking of voting for. However, one in five Democrats are not considering him.

  • Notably, our national-level results suggest that Elizabeth Warren is in second place for consideration among voters. Fully 40 percent of Democrats say they are considering a vote for Warren, and just 13 percent have said they are not currently considering her.

  • Medicare for All is the top priority among voters likely to vote in the 2020 Democratic Primary, followed closely by action on climate change.

Memo: Is Joe Biden Electable?

By Sean McElwee (@SeanMcElwee), co-founder of Data for Progress


This memo outlines a series of informational statements posed to a representative sample of US voters designed to assess support for likely Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump. These statements, presented below, contained information about the past votes and political history. Immediately before and immediately after the statements, voters were asked if they would support Joe Biden, Donald Trump, someone else, or if they would stay home.

Prior to receiving the statements, 39.4 percent of voters reported they would support Joe Biden and 39.2 percent reported they would support Donald Trump (or 50.1-49.9 in the two-party vote). After receiving the statements, 34.2 percent of voters reported they would support Joe Biden and 39.4 percent reported they would support Donald Trump (or 46.5-53.5 in the two-party vote).

Memo: The End Money Bail Act (The Justice Collaborative)

In the 2020 Presidential Primary, candidates have taken increasingly progressive stances on many aspects of the criminal justice system, including growing calls to end our unjust money bail system.

Here, we compare these policies to our ideal policy, the End Money Bail Act, progressive and common sense legislation designed to dismantle America’s destructive money bail system.

The bill would encourage state and local governments to replace unjust and discriminatory money bail systems with more equitable pretrial release programs, while creating mechanisms for robust data collection to make sure these new systems are both fair and effective. The bill represents the most robust, equitable, and evidence-based approach to systemic pretrial reform at the local level.

Memo: The Green New Deal Is Popular (350 Action)

350 Action and Data for Progress

Key findings:

  • The Green New Deal remains broadly popular, with 59 percent of US voters supporting the policy and only 28 percent opposed.

  • While support for green energy policies is strongest among Millennials, age is not as strong a divider of opinion as one might suspect.

  • Party ID is the central cleavage on green policy, with Democrats supporting climate action at much higher levels than Republicans, and Independents leaning closer to Democrats than Republicans on all three issues.

Featured Research

Memo: Medicare for All and Democratic Primaries

By Sean McElwee (@SeanMcElwee), Avery Wendell (@awendell98), Jason Ganz (@jasnonaz) and Ethan Winter (@ethanbwinter)

Key findings:

  • Fifty-seven percent of likely Democratic primary voters said they would disapprove of their incumbent member of Congress opposing Medicare for All, with 25 percent saying they would approve and 17 percent not expressing an opinion.

  • Among likely Democratic primary voters, disapproval of opposition to Medicare for All was the majority position in all but one district, where it was the plurality position.

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Memo: The Convergence Among Racial, Gender, and Economic Attitudes in 2018

By Nick Davis (@ntdPhD)

This memo explores how attitudes across three major domains that were predictive of voting in 2018, economic preferences, gender, and beliefs about the persistence and nature of racism in America, and a fourth category of preferences about the criminal justice system intersect.

The analysis will show that Democratic voters are also extremely well-sorted with respect to these domains. In other words, most voters do not divorce matters of racial and economic justice.

However, in the case of self-described “moderate” and “liberal” Democrats, we find compelling evidence that, while both groups of individuals lean to the left, operational ideology among the former is less progressive than the latter.

Featured Research

Memo: Analyzing the Impact of Give Smart and Future Now Fund Endorsements

By Sean McElwee (@SeanMcElwee) and Jacob Coblentz (@Jacob_Coblentz)

In the 2018 midterm elections, Future Now Fund (FNF) endorsed 62 candidates across sixlegislative chambers in five states. In addition, Data for Progress’s Give Smart campaignendorsed 30 candidates of their own. Following the election, FNF provided Data for Progresswith election results and district political dynamics for every state legislative race in 21 states,with an indicator for whether FNF and/or Give Smart made an endorsement in the race. As apreliminary analysis, we are interested in knowing whether endorsed candidates performedmeasurably better than raw district fundamentals would otherwise predict.

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Memo: Analyzing The 2020 Presidential Contenders' Housing Policies

By Henry Kraemer (@HenryKraemer) and Pete Harrison (@PeteHarrisonNYC)

Data for Progress is keeping a running tab of housing policy proposals for announced or likely 2020 Presidential contenders. This play-by-play policy analysis, ideological context, and suggestions to improve candidates’ policies are intended to help both campaigns and voters get to the best American housing policy.

Read each policy below.

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Memo: Polling The Green New Deal Components

By Jason Ganz (@jasnonaz) and Sean McElwee (@SeanMcElwee)

To test the viability of a Green New Deal after it faces conservative opposition, we offered respondents counter-arguments, partisan framing and explicit pay-fors of different amounts included in the question. By randomly varying the cost of the pay-for between participants, we are able to determine how strongly support for policies varies at different cost levels.

Our findings should be heartening for progressives: even with counter-arguments, partisan framing and expensive revenue pay-fors, most parts of the Green New Deal, even some of its most ambitious elements, have net support among likely voters.

  • Out of the eleven policies surveyed, eight have net positive support with an unstated pay-for, five have net support with a low pay-for and four with a high pay-for.

  • The most popular policies are improving drinking water infrastructure (36 percent net support), reforesting land (25 percent net support), job training and insurance for displaced workers (18 percent net support) and a green jobs guarantee (9 percent net support).

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Memo: Polling The Green New Deal

By John Ray (@johnlray)

Key Finding: Even with explicit tax increases and an end to all fossil fuel use, the Green New Deal is popular. Support for the Green New Deal is driven by Millennials, students, and non-whites. As the Green New Deal has entered the political conversation, support for it has become more clearly polarized along partisan lines, even as it remains popular among Independents.

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