Bold Progressive Policy Agenda Enjoys Broad Support Among Likely Midterm Voters in Ohio, Even Among Those Who Voted for Trump
Face-to-face interviews with 355 Ohio midterm swing voters reveal hunger for strong solutions to economic woes but public largely reliant on Fox/TV news has little information, low opinion of politicians
Washington, DC — Working America canvassers surveyed 355 likely midterm swing voters in central Ohio on their top issues and 11 public policies designed to address economic and public health concerns. The new “Front Porch Focus Group” report finds swing voters are open to progressive policy even if they voted for Donald Trump last November.
Despite the eagerness for progressive solutions, half the people we talked with said they didn’t know their U.S. Senators much less what they stand for. This low information, combined with a reliance on Fox News and other TV news sources, makes it hard for progressives to break through and necessitates that they change how information is delivered. Canvassers found that voters are eager to talk face to face, and conversations on the doors remains a critical way to break through to reach and persuade those likely to turn out in 2018 and beyond.
“With so many swing voters limiting their media diet to just Fox and other TV news channels, Democratic candidates have to find new ways to reach swing voters," said Matt Morrison, co-executive director of Working America. “A conversation with votes on their front doors can break through the bubble of right-wing news and misinformation.”
Among the topline findings from the report:
- Policies to expand and strengthen the middle class have broad and intense support among Ohio swing voters, including those who voted for Donald Trump. Voters across income and party lines support progressive policies like stopping outsourcing, addressing the opioid crisis and establishing paid family leave.
- Conventional paid media has not been getting through to voters, leaving them with little information about elected officials. The top candidates in Ohio’s 2016 U.S. Senate race and their supporters spent an estimated $90 million, with a huge share going to TV ads and other paid media. Yet 53 percent of the swing voters we surveyed did not know or had no opinion of Sen. Rob Portman, one of the candidates in that race.
- Voters’ low information is combining with right-wing media narratives to cement a low opinion of all politicians. We found 2 out of 5 swing voters did not differentiate by political party when attributing responsibility for the state of the economy, saying they blamed “all politicians” for their current situation. As a result, progressives need to change how they get information to the public. Face-to-face conversations are essential to breaking through the bubble around swing voters.
- Ohio voters are highly polarized over raising the minimum wage, but it has strong support with the lower-income voters that Democrats struggle to get to the polls in midterm elections. A full Sixty-eight percent of all low-income voters, including Trump voters, back a minimum wage increase.
The findings are based on 355 conversations with working-class Ohioans in “front porch focus groups” — interviews held in person at voters’ front doors — conducted by Working America canvassers in working- and middle-class neighborhoods in Columbus and several surrounding towns as well as in Circleville, Delaware and Mansfield, Ohio from June 5 to June 16. The people we spoke with voted in at least one non-presidential election since 2010, which suggests they are likely to vote in 2018. These voters landed squarely in the middle of the partisan spectrum with an average Catalist Vote Choice partisanship score of 48.2 (on a scale of 0-100, 0 being most Republican and 100 being most Democrat). The estimated household income of voters averaged roughly $88,000 a year. Ninety-eight percent of voters were white, 1 percent were African-American, none were Latinx and 0.3 percent were Asian; the ethnicity of 0.3 percent was unknown.
Since 2003, Working America has mobilized working people who don’t have the benefit of a union at work to fight for good jobs and a fair economy. As the three-million member community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, we unite working people in urban and suburban communities around a shared economic agenda. For more information, visit www.WorkingAmerica.org.