Politico has a hilarious new report out based on data gathered by Democrats who tested the progressive agenda with polls and focus groups in swing states. It did not go well.
The report is based on descriptions of the research, which was gathered by "Democratic campaign arms," from a dozen party operatives.
"Many of the ideas party leaders have latched onto in an attempt to appeal to their lost voters — free college tuition, raising the minimum wage to $15, even Medicare for all — test poorly among voters outside the base," correspondent Edward-Isaac Dovere says of the data. "The people in these polls and focus groups tend to see those proposals as empty promises, at best."
In addition to reporting on what the findings showed about President Trump's popularity, Dovere revealed what researchers found on several key items of the Democratic agenda.
On free college tuition:
The call for free college tuition fosters both resentment at ivory tower elitism and regret from people who have degrees but are now buried under debt. Many voters see "free" as a lie — either they'll end up paying for tuition some other way, or worse, they'll be paying the tuition of someone else who'll be getting a degree for free.
Medicare-for-all tests better, but it, too, generates suspicion. The challenge is that most voters in focus groups believe it's a pipe dream — they ask who will pay for it and suspect it will lead to a government takeover of health care — and therefore wonder whether the politicians talking to them about it are being less than forthright, too.
On the minimum wage:
Raising the minimum wage to $15 is as unpopular as it was when the Obama White House tried to make it Democrats' rallying cry in the 2014 midterms. Participants in battleground-state focus groups said they see that rate as relatively high and the issue in general as being mostly about redistributing money to the poor.
"On immigration and trade," Dovere also noted, "voters remain largely aligned with Trump. Data show that voters believe that the economy is moving in the right direction and resent Democrats attacking its progress."
While Democrats angling for the party's nomination in 2020 lurch towards single-payer proposals and compete to see who can earn the most credibility with progressives, the party will continue to struggle in swing states where its appeal has dwindled. Progressive policies may be popular in Massachusetts and California, but if party leaders such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., believe pushing those policies nationally will broaden the party's appeal, they are mistaken.
As the Democratic base continues pushing leaders Left, the party's ability to recapture the support of disillusioned voters, especially those residing between the coasts, will be increasingly lessened. But after all their post-election tours through the Rust Belt and efforts in self-reflection, they still just don't seem to get it.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.