Skip to content

Latest Stories

Top Stories

Women voters put economy as top priority

​A woman casts her vote at the Hazel Parker Playground in Charleston, S.C., on Nov. 3, 2020.

A woman casts her vote at the Hazel Parker Playground in Charleston, S.C., on Nov. 3, 2020.

Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Originally published by The 19th.

Women voters will be key for Democrats to maintain control of Congress next year. To succeed, the party will need to harness President Biden's support among women and show how lawmakers are working to address their concerns about the economy, according to a liberal group that conducted polling and focus groups.

New research shared with The 19th by liberal super PAC American Bridge 21st Century offers a glimpse into the priorities for women voters in four critical battleground states for the 2022 midterm elections and highlights where the Democratic Party's messaging may fall short.

The women listed economic recovery as a top concern and expressed support for a number of Democratic priorities that include giving Medicare the ability to negotiate drug prices, investing in infrastructure, improving job training programs and giving loans to small businesses.

But the survey showed a disconnect between the women's perception of the president and Democrats in Congress. While 57 percent of the women viewed Biden favorably, 49 percent had a favorable opinion of Senate Democrats.

“Biden does not come across as progressive and mired in politics as much as the Democrats overall. They don't seem on the same page with cohesive plans [and] policies," a white woman in Pennsylvania told researchers.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

“I think Joe Biden and some Democrats differ in their views on working across the political aisle," said a Black woman in Georgia, according to the group. “I think Joe Biden has been consistently optimistic about gaining [bipartisan] support, and that it is possible. However, I think some Democrats feel that it is impossible."

American Bridge, in partnership with the polling firm ALG Research, conducted the online survey of 2,000 registered women voters in May. It included voters in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The American Bridge data also included several focus groups held in June and July with women who expressed positive views about Biden but could vote for Republicans or forgo voting entirely in the midterms.

The largest number of women saw boosting the economy, lowering health care costs and addressing migration at the U.S.-Mexico border as “extremely important" issues. But just 24 percent of them said the same about addressing challenges for working families with young children, an issue at the center of Biden's American Families Plan.

Join us this August for our free #19thRepresents summit with virtual conversations on representation in democracy, sports, business, culture and voting.

In focus groups, the women spoke broadly about the Covid-19 financial assistance provided by the American Rescue Plan as well as the increased child tax credit that started helping some of the nation's poorest families this month. But they did not have a detailed understanding of the legislation or Biden's proposals focused on infrastructure, said Molly Murphy, a partner with ALG who conducted the research.

“They would talk about how the economy is doing, that it's not where it needs to be," Murphy said. “But when asking them what they had heard or seen, their awareness is pretty low." Additionally, 49 percent of the women reported paying less attention to politics since Biden took office.

American Bridge's president, Jessica Floyd, said the results highlight areas where the Democratic Party and advocates can do more to connect the economic concerns for women in these states to the policies championed by Democrats in Congress and the Biden administration. The American Families Plan, for example, while focused on expanding support for education and families with children, is also viewed by the administration as an important way to boost the economy.

Forty-three percent of the women said they trusted Democrats more than Republicans to lower health care costs, and 18 percent trusted Republicans more. The women had split views on whether Democrats or Republican would create jobs and help the economy recover.

Heading into the midterms, the stakes will be high for Democrats in Congress. The party of the president tends to lose congressional seats during midterm elections, and Democrats currently hold narrow majorities in the House and Senate. Independent voters in American Bridge's focus groups said that they see Biden as more focused on bipartisanship and indicated that lawmakers are too consumed with playing politics.

Democratic lawmakers will look to build on Biden's success with women voters, particularly those of color. Black women carried Biden to victory over former President Donald Trump, with Biden earning 90 percent of their support. Biden also won a larger share of women voters generally and independent voters than Hillary Clinton did in the 2016 presidential election.

In the battleground states surveyed by American Bridge, that support for Biden appears to be holding. The economy will likely remain a key factor for women nationwide, who have been disproportionately affected by job losses and lack of childcare options during the pandemic.

American Bridge recommends that the Democratic Party's messaging make explicit connections between Biden and Democratic leaders broadly and educate voters about the economic recovery proposals that are less well known.

As part of American Bridge's effort to fill the gaps for battleground voters, the group will launch $4 million in ads targeted to voters in Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia, expanding on a previously announced $100 million campaign for Democrats ahead of the midterms and a seven-figure ad buy in Virginia ahead of the state's gubernatorial election in November.

The new ads tout benefits of the American Rescue Plan's support for small businesses and child tax credit for families.

Read More

Podcast: How do police feel about gun control?

Podcast: How do police feel about gun control?

Jesus "Eddie" Campa, former Chief Deputy of the El Paso County Sheriff's Department and former Chief of Police for Marshall Texas, discusses the recent school shooting in Uvalde and how loose restrictions on gun ownership complicate the lives of law enforcement on this episode of YDHTY.

Listen now

Podcast: Why conspiracy theories thrive in both democracies and autocracies

Podcast: Why conspiracy theories thrive in both democracies and autocracies

There's something natural and organic about perceiving that the people in power are out to advance their own interests. It's in part because it’s often true. Governments actually do keep secrets from the public. Politicians engage in scandals. There often is corruption at high levels. So, we don't want citizens in a democracy to be too trusting of their politicians. It's healthy to be skeptical of the state and its real abuses and tendencies towards secrecy. The danger is when this distrust gets redirected, not toward the state, but targets innocent people who are not actually responsible for people's problems.

On this episode of "Democracy Paradox" Scott Radnitz explains why conspiracy theories thrive in both democracies and autocracies.

Your Take:  The Price of Freedom

Your Take: The Price of Freedom

Our question about the price of freedom received a light response. We asked:

What price have you, your friends or your family paid for the freedom we enjoy? And what price would you willingly pay?

It was a question born out of the horror of images from Ukraine. We hope that the news about the Jan. 6 commission and Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination was so riveting that this question was overlooked. We considered another possibility that the images were so traumatic, that our readers didn’t want to consider the question for themselves. We saw the price Ukrainians paid.

One response came from a veteran who noted that being willing to pay the ultimate price for one’s country and surviving was a gift that was repaid over and over throughout his life. “I know exactly what it is like to accept that you are a dead man,” he said. What most closely mirrored my own experience was a respondent who noted her lack of payment in blood, sweat or tears, yet chose to volunteer in helping others exercise their freedom.

Personally, my price includes service to our nation, too. The price I paid was the loss of my former life, which included a husband, a home and a seemingly secure job to enter the political fray with a message of partisan healing and hope for the future. This work isn’t risking my life, but it’s the price I’ve paid.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

Given the earnest question we asked, and the meager responses, I am also left wondering if we think at all about the price of freedom? Or have we all become so entitled to our freedom that we fail to defend freedom for others? Or was the question poorly timed?

I read another respondent’s words as an indicator of his pacifism. And another veteran who simply stated his years of service. And that was it. Four responses to a question that lives in my heart every day. We look forward to hearing Your Take on other topics. Feel free to share questions to which you’d like to respond.

Keep ReadingShow less
No, autocracies don't make economies great

libre de droit/Getty Images

No, autocracies don't make economies great

Tom G. Palmer has been involved in the advance of democratic free-market policies and reforms around the globe for more than three decades. He is executive vice president for international programs at Atlas Network and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

One argument frequently advanced for abandoning the messy business of democratic deliberation is that all those checks and balances, hearings and debates, judicial review and individual rights get in the way of development. What’s needed is action, not more empty debate or selfish individualism!

In the words of European autocrat Viktor Orbán, “No policy-specific debates are needed now, the alternatives in front of us are obvious…[W]e need to understand that for rebuilding the economy it is not theories that are needed but rather thirty robust lads who start working to implement what we all know needs to be done.” See! Just thirty robust lads and one far-sighted overseer and you’re on the way to a great economy!

Keep ReadingShow less
Podcast: A right-wing perspective on Jan. 6th and the 2020 election

Podcast: A right-wing perspective on Jan. 6th and the 2020 election

Peter Wood is an anthropologist and president of the National Association of Scholars. He believes—like many Americans on the right—that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and the January 6th riots were incited by the left in collusion with the FBI. He’s also the author of a new book called Wrath: America Enraged, which wrestles with our politics of anger and counsels conservatives on how to respond to perceived aggression.

Where does America go from here? In this episode, Peter joins Ciaran O’Connor for a frank conversation about the role of anger in our politics as well as the nature of truth, trust, and conspiracy theories.

Keep ReadingShow less