Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Maybe Democrats Are More United Than People Think

A new survey kid on the block is the Nationscape survey, sponsored by the Democracy Fund (full disclosure: I am involved in the project). This is a survey of 6000 new respondents every week and and will go through the primaries all the way to the general election. Results are starting to be released from the initial waves and one interesting writeup by John Sides and Lynn Vavreck was on the Post's PostEverything blog today.
Sides and Vavreck take the view that the division of the primary field between "progressives" and "moderates" obscures the amount of unity that actually exists among Democrats on key issues.
"Regardless of their candidate preferences, Democrats largely agree on many policies that have emerged as supposed litmus tests for who counts as moderate or progressive. In the past four weeks of our surveys, for example, more than 75 percent of likely Democratic primary voters supported raising taxes on families making more than $600,000, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and having the government provide a job to any American who needs one.
Perhaps predictably, then, supporters of the leading Democratic candidates — Biden, Warren, Sanders and Buttigieg — are also not particularly divided on these policies. Take raising taxes on the wealthy. This type of policy is most associated with Warren, and, indeed, 86 percent of her supporters favor it. But so do 78 percent of Biden supporters and 87 percent of Buttigieg supporters. Such numbers hardly suggest a party sharply divided into two warring wings.
It’s mainly Medicare-for-all on which divisions are apparent, but these are less sharp than many people assume. Among all Democrats we surveyed, 68 percent support “providing government-run health insurance to all Americans,” while 65 percent endorse the enactment of Medicare-for-all. Even here, when support wasn’t unanimous, it wasn’t because significant fractions of Democrats opposed these policies outright: Only 17 percent opposed Medicare-for-all. The rest were simply unsure.
So....everyone's for single payer/eliminate private insurance them? No, not even close, which is why you need to very careful interpreting responses to a generic Medicare for All question.
"There’s one framing of Medicare-for-all that leads to division. When we presented it as the outright elimination of private insurance, rather than leaving it to respondents to define it, a sizable split among Democrats emerged. Thirty-nine percent supported “abolishing private health insurance and replace with government run health insurance” while 33 percent opposed it, and the rest were unsure. This policy was more popular among supporters of Sanders or Warren than Biden or Buttigieg, but responses to it were lukewarm across the board: Only 49 percent of Sanders supporters favored it. (Seventy-six percent of Democrats in our sample support a “public option,” however.)"
So, cool, Democrats look pretty united on running on a bold, but popular, program. There may be hope yet!
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A war between “progressives" and “moderates”? Voters don’t see things the way pundits do.

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