From Data for Progress <[email protected]>
Subject Data for Progress Year in Review
Date December 31, 2019 4:59 PM
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Next year, we will see the most important election of our lifetimes, a crucial moment for the country and the climate. And we want Data for Progress to do even more than we did last year. That’s why we’re reaching out to our supporters to describe our plan and ask if you want to be part of our team.

Here’s what we’re prioritizing in 2020:

* We’re doubling down on climate and healthcare. We’ve seen how powerfully these issues mobilize the base going into the election, and we think both issues are poised for ambitious action. You can see our work on these issues here ([link removed]) . We’re particularly excited about equitable climate policy and aggressive intervention into the broken pharmaceutical industry ([link removed]) .
* We’re expanding our polling operation. We’ll be in the field every other week for the whole year, to push back on right-wing narratives and advance progressive policy, working with leaders like Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. We’ll also conduct polling of states and congressional districts, to bolster the progressive movement across the country. This comes after a number of successful polls this year, including correctly calling ([link removed]) the Louisiana gubernatorial race.
* We’re going to Washington. We’ve firmly established our polling as a media staple. Now we want to grow our presence and influence on Capitol Hill. We worked closely with partners in the pharma and climate space to improve H.R. 3 ([link removed]) and USMCA ([link removed]) , and we want to expand that work moving forward. We’ll have a new staff member dedicated to building relationships and putting in the leg work to make sure our data, publications, and expertise help shape Democratic legislation as we head into 2020.
* We’re investing in economic analysis. This year, we’ve had strong success with our jobs and economic research. Bolstering policies like the Green New Deal for Public Housing with hard numbers ([link removed]) has helped shift the narrative in favor of progressives. We’ll continue to expand our capacity here.
* We’re going to invest in primaries. Now more than ever, we need a progressive Congress for the moment that we elect a progressive president. Primaries in safe seats are a viable path to create a progressive majority and mandate. We’ve expanded the Primaries for Progress team from two to four, and we expect the team to grow to six in 2020 as we increase our focus on down-ballot races. We’ll also dedicate further polling capacity to primaries.
* We’re committed to Down-ballot work. Last year, we raised a quarter million with Crooked Media, for the closest seats in Virginia ([link removed]) . This year, we’ll expand that work with an early focus on North Carolina, a state where the Republican Party’s gerrymandering has prevented the expansion of Medicaid. (See our report ([link removed]) on how Medicaid expansion increases voter turnout.)
* We’re pivoting to video. Not really. But we will be launching a new explainer series called Policies for Progress, broadcasting our latest research and policy work on social media. We’ve already shot the first few episodes, which focus on how the Green New Deal for Public Housing can promote justice and decarbonization, common-sense progressive pharmaceutical interventions that could become law, and how the Senate is biased toward a conservative agenda. More episodes are coming, and we hope to have lawmakers pitching their legislation and our research on the platform soon.

We are excited about the work that lies ahead—but to make it happen, we need to expand our team and we need support from folks like you. Every dollar counts. We’d love for you to become a sustaining donor. Just 300 sustaining donors would fund our new, weekly omnibus survey, which will help the progressive movement fend off attacks from the center and right as we continue to change the narrative and build power.

Support Our Work ([link removed])

Thank you for your consideration and support. Together, we can drive a new generation of progress.

- Executive Director Sean McElwee and Vice President of Policy and Strategy Julian Brave NoiseCat

DFP Year in Review: Our Top Twelve Projects of 2019
This year was the biggest in Data for Progress history—by far. We’ve released in-depth polling and policy memos, raised money for progressive candidates, and worked with members of Congress and presidential candidates to advocate for progressive legislation.

We want 2020 to be an even bigger year—a year where we make even more of a game-changing impact on progressive politics. But we can’t do it without your help and support. Please donate by clicking below.

Donate ([link removed])

To celebrate a successful year, we’ve listed below the top twelve DFP projects and accomplishments of 2019!

1. We Advocated for the Progressive Housing Agenda!
In May, we outlined a comprehensive, fifty-one-page “Homes for All” policy platform ([link removed]) , which every Democratic candidate should adopt. It included equitable zoning, home creation for extremely low-income families, rent subsidies, and incentives for collectively owned housing. Oh yeah, and it’s popular:

We even got Elizabeth Warren to tweet it out ([link removed]) in support!

We also released a series of reports ([link removed]) on the housing policies of 2020 presidential contenders Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Julian Castro, and Amy Klobuchar. Check those out too!

2. We Launched the Progressive Virginia Project—and Won
In May, we partnered with Crooked Media to create the Fuck Gerry(mandering) project ([link removed]) , which supported eighteen Democrats and aimed to prevent Virginia Republicans from keeping control of the legislature and gerrymandering the state’s districts.

And we won! Today’s Virginia General Assembly has Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, and our analysis ([link removed]) found that we targeted fourteen of the sixteen Virginia seats that were decided by a margin of 5 percent or less—indicating that we successfully invested in tight, high-leverage races.

3. We Showed that the Green New Deal is Popular
Some of our greatest work this year revolved around the Green New Deal, which is now at the center of US climate policy. First, in March, we released six graphs ([link removed]) showing the Green New Deal is extremely popular.

We also dropped a memo ([link removed]) showing that despite the pervasive myth that the Green New Deal is unpopular with unions, union members are actually one of the constituencies most highly correlated with support for Green New Deal policies.

Then, in September, we released interactive maps ([link removed]) with League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, and Indivisible, showing that that major policy planks of the Green New Deal, including:
* 100 percent renewable energy,
* putting a price on carbon,
* land conservation,
* upgrading buildings,
* investing in public transit, and
* removing lead from America’s water and infrastructure

are supported by at least 50 percent of Americans in every state and congressional district in the US. We also released Green New Deal candidate scorecards ([link removed]) evaluating twenty Democratic candidates on forty-eight progressive environmental priorities. Over the past year, we’ve seen an unprecedented increase in the ambition around climate, and we will continue to push for ambitious action in 2020.

4. We Made the Case for the End Money Bail Act
In April, we made the case ([link removed]) for the End Money Bail Act, a progressive bill that would allow courts to detain a person pending trial only after a judge finds by clear and convincing evidence that detention is necessary to keep the community safe.

And our polling shows that the people are on our side: Twice as many want to see the end of money bail as support it.

5. We Advocated for a Climate Debate
In June, our surveys revealed ([link removed]) that an overwhelming majority of Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents want a climate debate, which we demonstrated in a thirteen-page memo.

The Huffington Post covered our research ([link removed]) , and DFP’s Julian Brave NoiseCat, Sean McElwee, and Greg Carlock made the case for a climate debate ([link removed]) , for Crooked Media. And it worked: CNN hosted a climate forum on September 4.

6. We Showed the Impact of the Missing Medicaid Millions
Medicaid expansion saves lives and has led to historic reductions in the uninsured rate, but thirteen states have refused to expand Medicaid. In this memo, we showed that ([link removed]) in addition to being sound policy it is also good politics which helps drive people to vote. We find that universal Medicaid expansion would lead to 1.3 million more voters and increase registrations by tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands.

7. We Showed that Progressive Pharmaceutical Policies are Popular
Throughout the second half of 2019, we dropped polling on the progressive pharma agenda. In an August 2019 memo, our survey data showed ([link removed]) that a strong majority of Democrats, a small majority of independents, and just under half of Republicans support a proposal allowing the government to produce generic pharmaceutical drugs.

We also found overwhelming support—91 percent of Democrats, 81 percent of independents, and 77 percent of Republicans—for allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices.

In separate ([link removed]) memos ([link removed]) , we demonstrated that the majority of Americans support both allowing imports of FDA-approved drugs to meet demands, and allowing the government to revoke patents from pharmaceutical companies if their prices are too high.

Most recently, we showed ([link removed]) that H.R. 3—a bill that would allow the government to negotiate drug prices—has a plurality of support. These memos were used by members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus arguing for more-aggressive provisions in H.R. 3.

8. We Released the New Progressive Agenda Project
Our New Progressive Agenda Project, released in August, showed state-by-state and district-by-district estimates ([link removed]) of support for a wide range of progressive policies. We found that in every single state, more than 50 percent of Americans are in favor of employee governance, credit card interest rate caps, red flag laws, extending the New START Treaty, legalizing marijuana, and ending the war in Yemen.

In addition to these estimates, we also asked notable political figures to make the case for these priorities on our website, including Elizabeth Warren on corruption reform, Cory Booker on a public housing expansion, and Bernie Sanders on credit card interest rate controls and on ending the war in Yemen.

Many campaigns do not perform regular polling on issues at the state or congressional district level, so these findings are incredibly useful.

9. We Proved that the Green New Deal is Popular in Swing House Districts
In September, our report on the Green New Deal in battleground districts ([link removed]) went viral, garnering two million social media impressions, an exclusive in Vox ([link removed]) , an op-ed for the New York Times ([link removed]) , and shoutouts from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey.

Our report included polling showing that a plurality of voters in battleground districts (49 percent) support the Green New Deal, compared with just 36 percent who oppose.

In our survey, we also found that voters showed similar support for a less ambitious plan of $1.7 trillion by 2050, and for a more ambitious plan of $10 trillion by 2030. These findings helped deconstruct the narrative that the Green New Deal is unpopular in swing districts.

10. We Dropped a Massive GND Public Housing Project
In November, in conjunction with the release of Bernie Sanders’s and AOC’s Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, we released a comprehensive breakdown ([link removed]) of their plan, including job and economic growth estimates, public-health-impact studies, interactive maps, and public-opinion data.

Our research showed that a ten-year mobilization of up to $172 billion would retrofit over one million public housing units, create over 240,000 jobs per year, and cut 5.6 million tons of annual carbon emissions. We also released public housing maps ([link removed]) showing the risk of sea level rise to public housing and low-income communities.

We completed the project with a polling memo ([link removed]) showing that 46 percent of voters support retrofitting public housing, compared with 35 percent opposition.

11. We Showed that Ayanna Pressley’s People’s Justice Guarantee is Popular
Around the same time, we analyzed ([link removed]) public opinion on Ayanna Pressley’s People’s Justice Guarantee, and found that a majority of Americans support its key provisions, including providing addiction and mental health treatment to all who need it, ending mandatory minimum sentencing, and ending solitary confinement.

12. We Released 2020 Candidates Foreign Policy Reports!
Just this month, in collaboration with Common Defense, we released our 2020 Candidate Foreign Policy Report ([link removed]) to assess the foreign policy plans of the top eight 2020 Democrats based on their public statements, campaign platforms, and key voting records.

Alongside our candidate-comparison table, we also wrote in-depth foreign policy profiles for all eight candidates we assessed.

Twelve Months of Data for Progress in the Media


“'Ocasio-Cortez has clearly broken through,' Sean McElwee, the co-founder of Data for Progress, said by phone. 'People like Ocasio-Cortez are more than willing to primary a Democrat for not supporting a Green New Deal.'”

―Alexander C. Kaufman, “Opposing Green New Deal Could Cost Popular Democratic Lawmaker Her Job, Poll Shows ([link removed]) ,” The Huffington Post, January 3, 2019


“If one thing is clear, it’s that a Green New Deal is popular. In polling commissioned in 2018 by 350 Action, Data for Progress, and Sunrise Movement, we found broad-based support for Green New Deal Policies such as 100 percent renewable energy and a green jobs programs. This was popular across age demographics and geography. Support for candidates running on these issues also went up.”

―Greg Carlock and Julian Brave NoiseCat, “What's Your Green New Deal? ([link removed]) ,” Crooked Media, February 6, 2019


"'Virginia is a fucking progressive state, it should be represented by fucking progressives,' Sean McElwee, co-founder of Data for Progress, said in a statement to The Intercept."

―Akela Lacy,, “Virginia Poised to Be the First Former Confederate State to be Controlled by Progressive Democrats ([link removed]) ,” New York Times, March 6, 2019


“As Obama pushed racially conservative whites out of the Democratic Party, the remaining Democrats are more racially liberal. But using Voter Study Group data, McElwee is able to show that people who consistently self-identified as Democrats changed their views between 2011 and 2016.”

―Matthew Yglesias, “The Great Awokening ([link removed]) ,” Vox, April 1, 2019


“Despite how effectively Republicans have made abortion a wedge issue, these bans and prosecutions are wildly unpopular. According to the progressive think tank Data for Progress, there is no state in the country where even 25 percent of people support banning abortion outright."

―Luke Darby, “Alabama’s Abortion Ban Would Put Doctors in Prison for as Long as Rapists, ([link removed]) ” GQ, May 15, 2019


“Of the respondents, 61 percent supported the proposal in a January survey commissioned by Data for Progress, a left-leaning think tank. More Republicans supported the wealth tax than opposed it, 44 percent to 37 percent, while 61 percent of independents and 76 percent of Democrats also endorsed it.”

―Linda Qiu, “Fact-Checking Elizabeth Warren on the Campaign Trail ([link removed]) ,” New York Times, June 1, 2019


“Gavito and McElwee produced the accompanying chart, which shows that if these voters had gone to the polls in 2016, they would have given victories to Hillary Clinton in Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. And of course, with these victories, Clinton, not Trump, would be president.”

―Thomas B. Edsall, “The Democratic Party Is Actually Three Parties ([link removed]) ,” New York Times, July 24, 2019


“Happily, Data for Progress (DFP) is working to change that. In recent years, the progressive think tank has conducted large-sample, neutrally worded national polls of various left-wing policies, including many that had yet to register in mainstream discourse.”

―Eric Levitz, “Here Are 7 ‘Left Wing’ Ideas (Almost) All Americans Can Get Behind ([link removed]) ,” New York Magazine, August 30, 2019


“Anti-black racial resentment also dictates, in different ways, preferences for Biden, Warren and Harris. All else being equal, Biden’s vote share increases by 27 points going from the least to the most racially resentful primary voter. Meanwhile, more racially progressive Democrats — especially racially progressive whites — side heavily with Warren.”

―Alexander Agadjanian, “How Joe Biden attracts both black voters and racially ‘resentful’ voters ([link removed]) ,” Washington Post, September 6, 2019


“The poll was conducted by YouGov Blue and Data for Progress, a liberal think tank. While I try to avoid explicitly ideological surveys, I trust this data because YouGov is a reputable, nonpartisan firm that also conducts polls for CBS News and The Economist.”

―Robinson Meyer, “Five Radical Climate Policies That Most Americans Actually Like ([link removed]) ,” Atlantic, October 7, 2019


“Sean McElwee, a co-founder of Data for Progress, and three political scientists, Jesse H. Rhodes, Brian F. Schaffner and Bernard L. Fraga, agree that the Democratic Party’s focus on swing voters has come at the expense of other constituencies.”

―Spencer Bokat-Lindell, “How Do the Democrats Beat Trump in 2020? ([link removed]) ,” New York Times, November 5, 2019


“What’s more, as James Medlock and Colin McAuliffe of Data for Progress note, the U.S. spends far less on long-term care (as a percentage of its GDP) than the vast majority of OECD countries.”

―Eric Levitz, “Democrats Should Make 2020 a Referendum on ‘More Socialism for Old People ([link removed]) ,’” New York Magazine, December 3, 2019

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