Memo: The Green Homes Guarantee is Popular

Data for Progress recently fielded a survey of registered voters, and posed a series of questions about support for ambitious housing policy reform with an emphasis on equity and sustainability. We find that, even accounting for partisan identification, there is a clear appetite for green housing reform in the United States.

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Memo: Americans Want a Progressive Overhaul of American Foreign Policy

In the nearly two decades since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States has dramatically increased its global military footprint in the name of national security. This has included large-scale ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, targeted air strikes, covert operations across the Middle East and North Africa, hundreds of military bases across the world, and a heavy pipeline of arms sales. This “War on Terror” posture has carried a massive price tag, both in terms of dollars spent and lives lost.

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Memo: Voters Support Overhauling America's School Meal Programs

Nearly two-thirds of Americans, including a majority on both sides of the aisle, want the federal government to ensure that school lunches are fresh, healthy, prepared onsite, and locally grown. This polling indicates strong support for overhauling meal programs in America’s schools, which would create structural change in the country’s food economy and lead to a number of benefits for schoolchildren, farmers, and workers.

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Voters Support Mental Health Interventions

By Sean McElwee, co-founder of Data for Progress

The United States is experiencing a mental health crisis among its adolescents. Nearly one in five children suffer from mental health issues, and rates of suicide and depression have risen over 50 percent in recent years. However, voters support a wide range of policies to make access to mental health care universal.

Executive Summary:

  • Voters overwhelmingly support both an expansion of mental health services in schools, and requirements to cover mental health care.

  • Support is strong across partisan lines and could be a path for Democrats to improve margins with independent voters.

  • Women voters are more supportive of mental health interventions than men, offering a path for Democrats seeking to peel off women voters already concerned about Trump.

Memo: Restoring Independence and Fairness to Agriculture Under a Green New Deal

By - Charlie Mitchell, Agriculture and Sustainability Fellow at Data for Progress; Austin Frerick, Agriculture and Sustainability Senior Fellow at Data for Progress

Executive Producer - Greg Carlock, Green New Deal Research Director, Data for Progress

Executive Summary:

  • From seeds to grocery stores, rampant consolidation has ceded historic levels of power to food and agriculture conglomerates. To secure a sustainable national food supply, food production must transform radically, but right now, unprecedented concentration in agricultural markets is preventing that transition by impelling practices that abuse the environment, workers, animals, and consumers. Prices per head on poultry, cattle, and hogs have tanked along with the farmer’s share of the food dollar, wiping out populations of producers in favor of huge corporate farms.

  • Concentration in markets has allowed unprecedented concentration of animals in the form of CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), creating massive ecological hazards in the form of methane emissions, water and air quality crises, antibiotic resistance, and dead zones that extinguish marine life. The environmental and social costs of these practices are massive, not only contributing to runoff that results in dead zones at the terminus of the Mississippi River, but antibiotic resistance, nutrient and chemical pollution, soil erosion, and rendering the communities they invade toxic and unlivable.

  • Only by addressing anti-competitive practices and restoring fair markets in food and agriculture can we facilitate diverse food production and commerce from independent, local- and regionally-controlled farms and businesses. This is vital for securing a nourishing food supply able to withstand climate catastrophe.

Memo: The Progressive Labor Platform is Popular

Data for Progress surveyed key components of Bernie Sanders’s “Workplace Democracy Plan” and Elizabeth Warren’s “Empowering American Workers and Raising Wages” and found that the platform’s policies are broadly supported by voters. The policies tend to have broad support from Democrats, but many also have net positive support among independents and Republicans. In addition, we find that there is a potential key bloc of voters that either did not vote in 2016 or voted for Trump that support components of the platform, making them potential targets for 2020 election efforts. One caveat is important: many of these policies also showed high rates of voters having no strong opinion, meaning the numbers could change. 

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Memo: Paid Family Leave in the 2020 Election

Today, more than four in five US workers (81 percent) do not have paid family leave from their jobs for family care, and 60 percent do not have short-term disability insurance through their jobs to ensure they have paid leave for their own serious health issues, including pregnancy-related health challenges. These aggregated figures mask substantial disparities by occupation, industry, and wage levels, and also mask unequal access to paid leave—even within the same firm. The FAMILY (Family and Medical Insurance Leave) Act sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is a national paid family and medical leave program would cover virtually all working people in the United States. It is the most comprehensive family leave proposal currently introduced in Congress, and sets the standard for the 2020 Presidential field. Most of the leading Presidential contenders support the Family Act.

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Memo: Polling on The Green New Deal in Battleground Districts

By Julian NoiseCat, Director of Green New Deal Strategy at Data for Progress; Sean McElwee, Co-founder of Data for Progress; Emily Bello-Pardo, Senior Analyst at YouGov Blue; John Ray, Senior Analyst at YouGov Blue; Alissa Stollwerk, Director of YouGov Blue; Mark White, Senior Analyst at YouGov Blue.

In this survey of battleground congressional districts, we find that Green New Deal policies are popular. Focusing on the jobs and economic growth benefits of a Green New Deal is particularly effective, while messages about inequality are especially important to voters between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine—a key demographic for Democrats. Grand framings that refer to a “space race” or the legacy of the original New Deal are less effective.

We also found that more ambitious emissions and investment timelines do not dissuade voters, suggesting that policymakers should feel comfortable advancing policies that meet the scale of the crisis. While an aggressive right-wing attack has had a measurable impact on public opinion, the Green New Deal remains popular in battleground districts. Every policy we polled that could fit within the broad, ambitious, and equitable agenda of the Green New Deal was popular. Encouragingly, our survey also suggests that there is still significant opportunity to educate and influence voters with positive messaging in favor of the Green New Deal.

Memo: Voters Support a Range of Actions to Reduce the Cost of Prescription Drugs

By Sean McElwee, co-founder of Data for Progress; Monika Nayak, analyst at YouGov Blue; John Ray, senior analyst at YouGov Blue.

The pharmaceutical industry consistently ranks as one of the most unpopular industries in the country. Drug companies are raking in record profits by denying people the medications we need to protect our health and indeed, our very lives. Between 2006 and 2015, annual drug company revenues soared from $534 billion to $775 billion.

The only way to curb big pharma’s greed is with radical solutions that directly take on patent monopolies, so that all of us can have the medications we need regardless of what’s in our wallets. Progressives in the Democratic Party, including presidential candidates, have introduced several bold plans to lower drug prices.

Executive Summary:

  • Among registered voters, each of the pharmaceutical industry reforms we posed polled at least at majority support. Each policy polled net positive support.

  • Support for these policies included net positive support among Republican voters on each of the policies we polled.

  • Each of these findings are resilient to explicit partisan framing, which for Democratic policies typically reduces net support for any policy considerably. In an experiment, we randomly assigned voters to see whether “Democrats” supported one position on medical reform while “Republicans” opposed the position, or to see that “Supporters” held one position and “Opponents” held the other. Though the partisan framing had large effects, respondents overall continued to strongly favor pharmaceutical industry reforms.

Memo: Border Security Messaging Does Not Benefit Democrats on Immigration

By Alissa Stollwerk and Monika Nayak of YouGov Blue and Sean McElwee of Data for Progress

Conventional wisdom holds that Democratic congressional candidates should adopt a “border security first” approach to immigration in order to win moderates. Here, we test such a “border security first” approach and a “people first” approach. We find that border security message does not benefit Democrats and may hurt them by demobilizing the Democratic base.

Memo: Israel-Palestine and the 2020 Election

By Data for Progress Senior Fellow Emma Saltzberg

Israel is among the largest recipients of US military aid. It enforces a military occupation over more than 4.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. Israel/Palestine is becoming a contentious issue in Democratic intra-party politics. Some progressives in the Democratic Party, including presidential candidates, have raised the possibility of conditioning or cutting US military aid to Israel as part of an effort to pressure Israel to end the occupation and to reach a just, negotiated solution. 

But it can be difficult to understand where Democratic candidates stand on Israel and Palestine. 

Data for Progress Senior Fellow Emma Saltzberg has created documents which track candidates’ records on Israel/Palestine in one place. She has collected public statements and key votes from the 5 highest-polling Democratic presidential candidates on aspects of policy relating to Israel and Palestine. The profiles break down each candidate’s record and stances on key Israel/Palestine policy questions, including military aid to Israel and the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS). Each also includes a short section about the candidate’s record on antisemitism (which is not the same thing as criticizing Israeli policy) and white nationalism. These are up to date through August 2019.

Data for Progress also conducted polling asking voters about their support for reducing military aid to Israel based on human rights abuses and their support for reducing military aid to human rights abusers in general. The polling memo is below.

Candidate Profiles

Memo: Blue Jobs and the Green New Deal

By Bren Smith, Johnny Bowman and Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Ph.D.

Contributor: Noah Oppenheim

Executive Producer: Greg Carlock

Executive Summary

  • Oceans have absorbed around 30 percent of anthropogenic carbon and seafood is the number one source of animal protein in the world. By unleashing the potential of our waters, we can curb climate change while creating jobs.

  • Fishermen see the effects of climate change every day. Sixty-five percent of fishermen believe climate change could leave them ‘unable to profit’ and ultimately ‘forced out’ of their fishery. Of those surveyed, two-thirds identified as “moderate” or “conservative.

  • A Green New Deal should include reforms in three specific policy areas – ocean habitat restoration, community based fisheries and restorative ocean farming – which will shift the ocean from a resource in crisis to a powerful tool for mitigating climate change and transforming our food system.

Memo: Voters Support Reducing the Use of Fines and Fees in Sentencing

By Data for Progress and The Justice Collaborative

Executive Summary

  • Sixty-four percent of voters support restricting the use of fines and fees to those who are able to pay.

  • Support for this proposal has broad, majority support across all ideological identifications, age group, and income brackets.

  • There are a variety of ways in which state and local officials can end the criminalization of poverty, including eliminating criminal system fees, limiting the use of fines, and requiring strong ability-to-pay evaluations and alternatives to court debt.

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.