Demos Releases New Research Showing Broad Support for a Bold Economic Agenda

Release Date: 
July 14, 2017

Data show pocketbook issues including minimum wage, debt-free college and infrastructure are top priorities for likely voters

Today, Demos, a leading progressive think tank released new polling data that identifies the economic priorities of progressives, working-class people of color, and working-class white Obama to Trump voters. The polling sheds light on the shared top priorities for these voters including revitalizing infrastructure, raising the minimum wage and debt-free college.

The poll, which surveyed over 1,500 registered voters between June 5th and June 14th, also found that most Americans believe that the government needs to do more to solve problems and meet the needs of people. Moreover, the research makes it clear that messages that include both a race and class framework resonate with all voters, even significant percentages of the white working-class Obama to Trump voters.

“From this research we can glean important information about the economic policy priorities of all working-class Americans – especially members of the new working class who are too often overlooked,” said Tamara Draut, Vice President of Policy and Research at Demos and author of the book, Sleeping Giant: How the New Working Class Will Transform America. “This research, along with Demos’ work over a decade on the economic challenges facing the working class, the middle class and young people, shows the American people need and are ready for a bold economic agenda that addresses the widespread economic anxiety and insecurity confronting people of all races in this country. To have an inclusive democracy we must first have an inclusive economy that offers everyone a better deal and an opportunity to prosper.”

The survey found:

  • When asked to rank their top three priorities – economic issues are overwhelmingly at the top: 39 percent of voters said revitalizing infrastructure was a top issue, 31 percent said raising the minimum wage and 27 percent said debt-free college. 
  • 52 percent of Americans are more likely to want government to do more to solve problems and help meet the needs to people. 51 percent of white working class voters who switched from Obama to Trump agreed with this statement, as did 80 percent of progressives.
  • 79 percent of voters think that we need to protect the deals we have already made – including protecting Social Security and Medicare from cuts—while making new deals to support equal pay and workers’ rights, and investments in infrastructure and higher education.
  • 55 percent of voters think average Americans are getting squeezed out and left behind, while the rich are getting richer, and that both parties care more about power than helping working Americans (49 percent).
  • 72 percent of progressives and 75 percent of working-class African Americans believe our country cannot succeed unless we are all given a chance to succeed, and that means we need to address the issues which have held some of us back because of race. Additionally, 44 percent of working-class Obama-to-Trump voters also supported this statement.

Demos has long been a leader in providing fresh research and new policy ideas to address the economic challenges facing the working and middle class in this country, including groundbreaking research on credit card debt, college affordability and the growing economic insecurity of a new generation, especially those without college degrees. The research team led by Tamara Draut, Vice President of Policy and Research at Demos and author of the books, Sleeping Giant: How the New Working Class Will Transform America and Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead, continues to be a leader in advancing policy solutions to address the student debt crisis. After years of studying the trends in funding for higher education at the state level and the rising debt burdens among college-going people, Demos released a policy blueprint for debt-free college in 2014, titled The Affordable College Compact.

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The full report can be found here: Voters Support Bold Economic SolutionsClick here to see the full results of the economic survey