Thursday, January 28, 2021

Give the People What They Want!

Pew has fresh data out on the public's policy priorities. The data provide a good sense of what voters would most like to see out of the Biden administration. Pew provides the data both for the public overall and for the public broken down by partisanship, race, age and education, which provides much additional useful information.
As one might expect, the top issues by far are dealing with the coronavirus epidemic and fixing the economy. These are followed by fighting terrorism, improving the political system, reducing health care costs, securing Social Security, improving education and helping poor people. These issues all get over half of the public (and for the first five issues much more than that) designating the issue a top priority.
Significantly, some of the issues nearest and dearest to Democratic hearts fail to crack the 50 percent mark. Both addressing issues around race and criminal justice reform fall below that level and two other key Democratic issues, immigration and climate change, fall below 40 percent. That does not mean of course that Democrats should not attempt to address these issues, but it does indicate that they would be well-served by an initial focus on the very top issues (COVID, economy) which both have high public support and general unity across key demographics, as Pew's other tables show.
Successful performance on the public's top priorities can create political space to address less salient issues. But, conversely, unsuccessful performance will likely doom the rest of the Democrats' agenda.
In short: give the people what they want.
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