By Carrie Conko, Vice President of Communications at State Policy Network
If you’re like me, you spent the night of Super Tuesday glued to the laptop (or television if you’re old school), bourbon in hand, as the results from Super Tuesday trickled in. What gets me excited about the biggest day of the presidential primaries is not just watching the horse race late into the night. It’s the intel the race provides on voter attitudes toward policy issues.
Here are some key takeaways, as well as seven voter trends, that Network think tanks should be aware of as they work to advance meaningful policy reforms in this election year.
After 14 states and American Samoa casted their votes for the Democratic nominee for president, it’s clear that Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are the front-runners. Biden won 10 of the 14 states up for grabs on Super Tuesday, while Sanders picked up the remaining four. Elizabeth Warren had a disappointing night, failing to finish higher than third place in any state. The senator ended her candidacy Thursday morning.
Then there’s Michael Bloomberg, now a case study on the age-old money-in-politics debate. After spending at least $560 million, Bloomberg proved that will get you… American Samoa. The former New York City mayor suspended his campaign the following day. Apparently, the presidency can’t be bought.
Democrats are slowly and begrudgingly rallying around the moderate establishment candidate. My prediction is that, by doing so, we’ll continue to see a fracturing of the party, with the far left causing a ruckus at the Democratic National Convention in July. Furthermore, new findings show swing voters are not nostalgic for the Obama-era (more on that below). So, Joe has to run as Joe—and he’s under pressure to deliver. The only Democratic Super Tuesday winner who failed to later clinch the nomination was Senator Gary Hart (D-CO) in 1984.
Super Tuesday gave us a glimpse into policy issues that matter most to Americans. Washington Post exit polls find climate change a top voting issue, second only to healthcare. This aligns with new findings from Engagious—a research firm that has conducted 21 focus groups in key swing districts since March 2019. Here are seven findings from that project that state think tanks should know:
Over the coming weeks, SPN will be sharing our quantitative study into many of the issues that are at play in the Network. We talked to districts across the country that have shifted from reliably red to “swing districts” over the last couple of elections. Swing voters indicate a great deal on voter preferences, and it’s important as a Network that we pay attention to them. When we understand political opinion around the issues, we can make a more persuasive factual and moral case for free-market, state-based policy solutions. It’s evident that political alignment is changing across the country, and we have an opportunity to show Americans that positive change will happen more quickly through state and local policy solutions, not DC politicians.
I look forward to sharing with you more information on voter trends in the coming months. Read more about how market research benefits state think tanks here. For SPN members, market research resources are available on SPN’s Member Portal.