Women Vote Action Fund and Democracy Corps shows that the new House majority misread American voters. Moreover, this research provides a new opportunity for progressives to reclaim critical blocs of voters who withdrew their support in the 2010 elections.
Health care is the opening act.
This analysis takes a special look at voters in the Rising American Electorate (RAE)—unmarried women, younger voters, people of color. These voters are the fastest growing population in the country and collectively comprise a majority of the voting eligible population. The number of unmarried women in the voting age population grew by more than 8 million since 2000. The RAE as a group accounts for more than 80 percent of the growth in the population of citizens 18 and older.
Some key findings include:
• After playing a pivotal role in 2006 and 2008 and changing the country, many voters delivered reduced margins for progressives in 2010. While this survey shows progress on a number of fronts, including the President’s approval ratings, there is still much to do, particularly at the congressional level. Democratic candidates still do not fare much better than they did two and a half months ago in named trial heats.
• Health care repeal also represents a key opportunity to reclaim these voters. First, it’s jobs, not the repeal that these voters name as their leading priority. Only 15 percent of RAE voters identify repeal as their leading issue, compared to 46 percent who identify jobs. Second, this revised debate is an opportunity to remarket reform.
• At some points last year, progressives, particularly the Speaker, made much of the fact that old system allowed insurance companies to charge men and women different rates for the same policy. The reform law fixed this injustice. This message needs to be revived and reinvigorated, particularly when approaching unmarried women.
• One of the most frustrating aspects of health care reform is that the people who stood to benefit the most from change offered only tepid support for the legislation. This problem continues to this day. However, given the fact that many of the benefits of the new law are now real and will be increasingly part of the daily lives of these voters, we can anticipate support to deepen, particularly as progressives continue the work of educating voters as to what is in this law.
A more detailed analysis of these results can be found at Democracy Corps and Women’s Voices. Women Vote Action Fund (www.democracycorps.org).