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.

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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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Memo: The Ideology of Trump's Judges (Demand Justice)

By Jon Green (@_Jon_Green)

Key Findings:

President Trump has exacerbated ongoing trends in the politicization and polarization of the federal judiciary. Trump's appointments are on average more conservative than Obama's were liberal, and are more Republican than Obama's were Democratic. Roughly half of Trump's appointments to federal courts have made partisan political donations, and the average Trump judge has made ten more donations to Republicans than to Democrats -- outpacing all of his predecessors in both the share of judges donating and the average partisan spread of those donations. His judges are also far more likely to be white and male than Obama's.

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The Effect of Supporting Medicare for All on Congressional Outcomes (MoveOn)

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


Data for Progress analysis of election results finds that support for Medicare for All didnot have an effect on candidate vote share. We caution analysts on the center who claim thatMedicare for All harms candidate performance that the evidence for this thesis is incrediblytenuous. Instead, our findings are in line with the political science literature suggesting thatunderlying district partisanship, campaign tactics and candidate qualities are often moreimportant than policy platform positions.

Key Findings:

  • Support for Medicare for All is not associated with electoral performance in the 2018 midterms.

  • Dropping Medicare for All support and exclusively using CF-scores to measure ideology showed that there was no relationship between candidate ideology and vote share.

  • In addition, we analyzed national and swing district polling suggesting little public opposition to Medicare for All.

  • These data suggest that there was no systematic bias against progressive candidates by voters.

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Memo: Green New Deal and Democratic Primaries

By Sean McElwee (@SeanMcElwee), co-founder of Data for Progress and Julian Brave NoiseCat (@jnoisecat) Director of Green New Deal Strategy


  • Likely Democratic primary voters prefer candidates who support a Green New Deal. Nearly half (46 percent) of likely Democratic primary voters would disapprove if their incumbent House representative opposed a Green New Deal while only 26 percent would approve (28 percent did not express an opinion).

  • In all districts polled, likely Democratic primary voters said they would disapprove if the incumbent did not support Green New Deal. In three districts (MA-06, MA-08 and NY-03, the preference was a majority, not plurality).