Future of Democratic Party

Memo: In A New Global Age, Democrats Have Been Far Better for the US Economy, Deficits, and Incomes (updated)

Overview – With the debate in Washington soon to turn to budget and economic matters, we have updated and are releasing a memo we first produced in 2016. This short memo looks at the economic performance of the two American political parties when in the White House since the end of the Cold War.

We use 1989 as a starting point for comparison because when it comes to the American and global economies, the collapse of Communism and the non-aligned movement ushered in a new, truly global economic era, one very different from the one that came before. It is thus fair to see how the two parties have adapted to the enormous changes this new era has offered, and whether their policies have helped America prosper or struggle as we and the world changed.

As you will see from the following analysis, the contrast between the performance of the Democrats and Republicans in this new economic era is stark: 2 GOP Presidencies brought recessions, job loss, higher annual deficits, and struggle for workers; the 2 Democratic Presidencies brought recovery and growth, job and income gains, and lower annual deficits.

Based on these findings it is fair to assert that over the past generation the Democratic Party has been far more effective at crafting effective responses to a new economic era than the Republican Party. This case is bolstered, of course, when recalling the GOP’s spirited predictions of economic calamity when opposing both the 1993 Clinton economic plan and budget and the 2009/2010 Obama stimulus and “job-killing” Affordable Care Act. The Republicans have gotten it wrong now in four consecutive Presidencies.

While it will not be the subject of this short memo, our findings raise questions about whether the characterizations of the US economy as one not producing income and wage gains either over 40 years or over the past 15 years are accurate. It would appear that a more accurate description of the US economy in recent years is that with smart policies, Americans can prosper even in a more challenging and competitive global age.

We hope that commentators and policy makers keep the findings of this memo in mind as the Republicans roll out their budget and economic plans in the coming weeks. The Party’s track record on economic matters in this new age of globalization is not something that should inspire confidence in voters looking for plans that create jobs, raise wages and lower the annual deficit. It has been the other Party that has done that.

Future of the Democratic Party

Some of our recent work on this vital topic:

Memo: In A New Global Age, Democrats Have Been Far Better for the US Economy, Deficits, and Incomes.  In a new memo NDN finds that over the past generation of American politics Democrats have been far better for the economy, deficits and incomes. 

A Strategy for Confronting Trump, Restoring Democratic Norms, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 1/31/17.  To counter Trump Democrats will have to be patriots not partisans.  In his new US News column Simon offers a strategy for how to draw lines and challenge a man acting far more like a dictator than an American President.

Chin Up, Democrats, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 1/20/17.  In his recent column, Simon argues that Democrats should have pride in their historic accomplishments and optimism about the future of their politics.

Rediscovering the Democrats' North Star, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 12/9/16.  In his recent column, Simon offers some thoughts on the path forward.

A New Generation of Democrats Will Have to Rise – NDN's Post Election Memo, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 11/9/16.  It is time for a more purposeful handoff from Boomer Democrats to the next generation who will have to lead the party in the years ahead.

Prior to the 2016 Election

Memo: 2016 Through A Millennial Lens – Some Initial Thoughts, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 11/4/16.  One of the more dramatic and potentially disruptive demographic developments in recent American politics has been the explosion of Millennials into the American electorate.

Report: In A New Global Age, Democrats Have Been Far Better for the US Economy, Deficits and Incomes, Simon Rosenberg and Chris Murphy, NDN.org, 9/13/16.  Our report finds that since Communism fell, and the world changed, Democrats have been far better stewards of the economy than Republicans.

Report: Presidential Primary Debates, Simon Rosenberg and Chris Murphy, NDN.org, 5/25/16.  This memo looks at the audiences the Presidential Primary debates received in 2016 and 2008.

A Wake Up Call For Democrats - Simon's 2014 Post-Election Memo, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 11/7/14.  Republicans have made substantial gains in recent years, and are a much stronger national party.  Democrats have a lot of work to do to compete and win against a resurgent GOP.

We've put together some of our recent work that weighs in on this important debate.

Column: A Strategy for Confronting Trump, Restoring Democratic Norms

In his new column for US News, "Drawing the Line with Trump," Simon argues that Democrats need to abandon traditional responses to the Trump Presidency, and set new rules of engagement. Trump’s early, repeated trampling of democratic norms must be confronted head on now. Friday’s decision to strip legal residents of the US of their liberties without debate or consultation is the act of an autocrat or dictator, not an American President. No further evidence of his intentions are needed now.

In his piece Simon lays out four conditions for continued Democratic cooperation:

1) Stop the Executive Orders
2) Debate Your Proposals In Congress
3) Divest or Disclose
4) Honor Decorum

Trump has historically low levels of public support; voters already have grave concerns about his secret holdings and the potential for corruption; and regular people are already taking unprecedented steps to protest his early Presidency. Democrats have a great deal of running room to take a dramatic and principled stand not against Trump but in favor of the rule of law and our democratic system itself.

Backgrounder: On the Future of the Democratic Party

Some of our recent work on this vital topic:

Memo: In A New Global Age, Democrats Have Been Far Better for the US Economy, Deficits, and Incomes.  In a new memo NDN finds that over the past generation of American politics Democrats have been far better for the economy, deficits and incomes. 

A Strategy for Confronting Trump, Restoring Democratic Norms, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 1/31/17.  To counter Trump Democrats will have to be patriots not partisans.  In his new US News column Simon offers a strategy for how to draw lines and challenge a man acting far more like a dictator than an American President.

Chin Up, Democrats, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 1/20/17.  In his recent column, Simon argues that Democrats should have pride in their historic accomplishments and optimism about the future of their politics.

Rediscovering the Democrats' North Star, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 12/9/16.  In his recent column, Simon offers some thoughts on the path forward.

A New Generation of Democrats Will Have to Rise – NDN's Post Election Memo, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 11/9/16.  It is time for a more purposeful handoff from Boomer Democrats to the next generation who will have to lead the party in the years ahead.

Prior to the 2016 Election

Memo: 2016 Through A Millennial Lens – Some Initial Thoughts, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 11/4/16.  One of the more dramatic and potentially disruptive demographic developments in recent American politics has been the explosion of Millennials into the American electorate.

Report: In A New Global Age, Democrats Have Been Far Better for the US Economy, Deficits and Incomes, Simon Rosenberg and Chris Murphy, NDN.org, 9/13/16.  Our report finds that since Communism fell, and the world changed, Democrats have been far better stewards of the economy than Republicans.

Report: Presidential Primary Debates, Simon Rosenberg and Chris Murphy, NDN.org, 5/25/16.  This memo looks at the audiences the Presidential Primary debates received in 2016 and 2008.

A Wake Up Call For Democrats - Simon's 2014 Post-Election Memo, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 11/7/14.  Republicans have made substantial gains in recent years, and are a much stronger national party.  Democrats have a lot of work to do to compete and win against a resurgent GOP.

Column: "Chin up, Democrats"

US News and World Report has published Simon's tenth column, "Chin up, Democrats," in his weekly Op-Ed series that will every Thursday or Friday.

Be sure to also read his recent column, "An Independent Audit of Trump's Companies is Now Necessary" in which Simon argues that Trump's plan to keep all of his holdings establishes new far weaker norms, encourages public corruption, creates many new terror targets, and exposes the US to exploitation by foreign governments.

An Excerpt from "Chin Up, Democrats"

On Tuesday I tweeted out a link to a new CNN poll showing that 65 percent of Americans believe Obama's presidency was a success. Among the responses was one from a conservative friend who cited the now familiar litany of statistics showing how much power Republicans had gained during his eight years in office. He ended his tweet with "Thanks Obama."

This exchange captures the Democratic Party's current dilemma. For while the Republicans have more power, the Democrats have been by other measures a far more constructive and successful party. For the second straight administration, a young, talented Democratic outsider was elected to clean up messes left by Republicans who struggled to govern. Both times these young telegenic leaders, despite extraordinary Republican opposition and some missteps along the way, left the country far better than they found it. Both left office with some of the highest approval ratings and people saying their presidencies were a success of the entire post-WWII era of American politics. This is no small achievement.

And for all the GOP stats about decline, we have our own set that paint a more nuanced picture – more votes in six of past seven presidential elections, a feat only matched once in all of American history; a 14-point advantage (53/39) among under-45 voters who will be the dominant force in American political life for the next generation or two; a far more popular and admired party; gains in the Senate and House in 2016, not losses; a huge array of popular and well-regarded national figures.

As Trump ascends into the presidency, Democrats would be wise to give themselves far more credit for a job well done than we hear in the current discourse. Looking back over the past 80 years, there is an argument to be made that the modern Democratic Party has done more to improve the lives of people here and abroad than any organized political force in human history. In addition to leading a decades-long struggle to defeat totalitarianism in various forms, we imagined and built a global order that has ushered in an age of almost unimaginable human progress, peace and self-determination. Billions of people today across the world today have the education and opportunity to contribute to the lives of their countries; billions are living in some form of democracy where they can cast a ballot for their leaders; no great war has engulfed the planet; billions have access to life-saving medical care and modern technologies that are making the act of living itself far more fulfilling, and long.

To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.

Column: Rediscovering the Democrats' North Star

US News and World Report has published Simon's seventh column, "Rediscovering the Democrats' North Star," in his weekly Op-Ed series that will every Thursday or Friday through the end of the year.

Be sure to also read his recent column, "Trouble Ahead - 4 Scandals That Could Alter the Trump Presidency," in which Simon looks at four looming scandals that could alter the trajectory of the Trump Presidency – unprecedented levels of public corruption, collusion with Russia to alter the outcome of the election, the FBI’s late intervention and Melania’s immigration troubles.

An Excerpt from "Rediscovering the Democrats' North Star"

To successfully counter what will be a very aggressive Republican legislative agenda next year, Democrats will be have to be unusually focused and disciplined. At a strategic level we will not just have to make clear what we are against, but also what we are for, what we will do different if once again given the chance to govern. With all that in mind, I offer up an early sketch of a focused agenda that can help animate the Democrats' opposition in the coming years:

Prosperity and Security. While there are many issues we must tackle together in the coming years, there are two that matter more to the nation and the American people themselves than the others – getting ahead, and feeling safe from threats.

The good news for Democrats is that our track record on the economy and keeping us safe is strong, and gives us a lot to work with going forward. On the economy, Obama will leave office with the nation at near full employment, GDP at a robust 3.2 percent, incomes rising since 2013, 25 million more with health insurance, his "all of the above" energy strategy having made us more energy independent while accelerating the growth of renewables, the deficit is half of what it was and the stock market at all-time highs.

For Democrats, this is second consecutive stint in power that we have left the economy far better than we found it. We simply have to become more purposeful about telling this story – since the end of the Cold War there has been more jobs, rising incomes and lower deficits with the Democrats, and job loss, declining incomes and higher deficits with the Republicans. We enter the coming debates about the budget and the economy as the only party which has successfully produced sustained prosperity for America over the past generation of our political life, and we cannot let up in this fight.

On "security," as it has been discussed in this year's campaign, Democrats have simply ceded too much ground to the Republicans of late. By most measures Americans are far safer today. Violent crime, killings of police, Americans killed by terrorists, military causalities are all far lower than during the George W. Bush administration, and in some cases, at all-time lows. The net flow of unauthorized immigrants into the U.S. has dropped from 400,000 a year net under Bush to zero under Obama – a remarkable achievement. Immigrants commit crimes at rates lower than native born Americans, and the economic achievements of the two largest immigrant groups – Asians and Hispanics – are impressive by any measure. Despite historically high levels of immigration, the American "melting pot" has once again done its thing, leaving us a better, stronger and more diverse nation than before. These accomplishments are meaningful, and well worth defending.

On the Middle East and terrorism, Barack Obama will leave office not the first nor the last president disappointed about what was achieved. But on the rise of the Islamic State group, we have to recognize that it grew from the internal political failings of two sovereign nations, Syria and Iraq, caught in the middle of a broader regional struggle between Sunni Arabs and its proxies and Iranian supported Shia forces. Creative thinking is needed here from all sides, thinking that recognizes that there is no "bombing them into the stone age" military solution to the region's troubles. The path forward involves expanding the increasingly successful military and counter-terrorism already in place, vigorously pursuing a regional reconciliation between Sunni and Shia, vigilant efforts to counter the Islamic State group's online reach, and Marshall Plan like efforts to modernize and strengthen those nations in the region wanting to put this violent age behind them.

To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.

A New Generation Of Democrats Will Have To Rise

As background, NDN produced a post-election memo in 2014, “A Wake Up Call For Democrats” which covers some of the ground in the memo below. The original version of this memo was published on the Wednesday after the election, and has been updated.  You can also find our thoughts in a series of post-election articles in Time, TNR, the Washington Post and others sources, and in this new US News op-ed, "Rediscovering the Democrats' North Star."

Clinton wins more votes, Dems gain in Senate and House – Yes, a bit spinny given the outcome, but true. Trump has won the Presidency, getting fewer votes than Clinton and winning his big 4 states - FL, MI, PA, WI - by less than 1.5%.  What is remarkable is that Democrats have now won more votes in 6 of past 7 Presidential elections, one of the best runs for a political party in US history and yet have very little to show for it.  In the exits last night Democrats had meaningful advantages in Party ID and favorability, and Barack Obama had a 53/45 approval rating. A plurality of voters even said they were better off than they were four years ago.

The GOP, a party that has won more votes in a national election only once since 1988, amazingly has more power today in Washington than any time since 1928.  That our system could produce this outcome is one of the things that makes America exceptional.

The exits confirm that last night was not a repudiation of the Democratic Party’s agenda, or a significant affirmation of the direction Trump wants to take the country:

-48% said Obamacare was just right or didn’t go far enough, 47% said too far
-70% said illegal immigrants should stay, 25% said deport
-41% approve of building the wall, 54% say no
-48% said criminal justice system treats blacks unfairly, 43% fairly
-31% say they are better off today, 27% worse off, 49% same

Even on the issue of global trade, 42% said trade takes away jobs, 38% said creates jobs.

So what this means in practical terms is that it is hard for Trump and the Republicans to claim a clear mandate. They have only won one more votes in a national election once since 1988, and will have to work hard in the coming months to build majority support for their agenda.

Dems Need A Big Discussion About Turnout, Our Coalition – Democrats need to have a robust debate about why we’ve had such a hard time replicating Obama’s success with the majority coalition he built in 2010, 2014 and again in 2016. No doubt that the Trump campaign impressively outperformed expectations in most national polls. But an early and quick read on the data suggests that once again the Democrats did not meet their targets with their own voters – and in this race resources were not an issue. More on this issue in future memos.

Younger Americans Are Much More Democratic – Using the national exit polls, voters under 45 went for Clinton 53% to 39%, and those 45 and over went for Trump 52% to 44%. 56% of the electorate was 45 and over, 44% under 45. Maximizing the under 45 vote – people who came of age after Reagan’s Presidency – remains one of the highest demographic priorities for Democrats. Not sure what it means yet, but the 4 states that cost Clinton the election last night – FL, MI, PA, WI – have very low %s of Millennials compared to other states.

For more on Millennials and the youth vote, see our new report on Millennials, this excellent post-election report from Tufts/Tisch/CIRCLE, and Democracy Corp's election night survey showing the Millennial share of the electorate grew from 19% in 2012 to a remarkable 29% in 2016. 

Huge Mistakes By Clinton Campaign - It is hard to escape the conclusion that the Clinton campaign both badly misread the election in the final months, and made terrible decisions about the allocation of its campaign resources and candidate time.  This new article by Sam Stein in the Huffington Post captures the failures in Michigan and Wisconsin.  But it goes deeper than just those two states. Discussions have to be had about huge overinvestments in IA, NC and OH, and whether AZ should have been a prime target general election target from June on.  As of 11/20, Clinton's margin in AZ is only 3.6%, better than the Democratic performance in IA, NC and OH (see our new memo on AZ, and the strong showing for Dems in CA and TX too).  Politico just published a new report on how the Clinton campaign blew Michigan - and it is tough reading.  And then there is the question of Trump's far more aggressive general election campaign schedule, something that no doubt made a difference in a very close race. 

Given the financial advantages and unified party behind the campaign, the team running Clintonworld will have to explain to the rest of us about what appears to be fatal misjudgements in the general election. 

Thanks Comey! – According to the exits, of the 26% of people who made up their minds in the last month, Trump won them 49%-39% (yes during the period of the debates, the Access Hollywood video). Of the 73% who made up their minds before the last month, Clinton won 51%-46%. Very hard to not conclude from this data that the Comey intervention in the election was consequential.

Not sure all of us have yet processed the unprecedented intervention of a foreign government and the FBI in this election. With Rs in charge of Congress and the White House, will be hard to have this conversation next year but it is a conversation that needs having. 

Political Reform – Given the obvious concerns about a “rigged” system that no longer works for everyday people, why Hillary Clinton never developed a serious conversation around reforming our politics remains one of the great mysteries of the 2016 election. See my piece from December, 2012 about why political reform had to become central to the politics of the center-left in the years ahead. 

A New Generation of Democrats Will Have to Lead Now – The Obama Presidency and the 24 years of leadership provided by Bill and Hillary Clinton will now yield to a new era for the Democratic Party. Surveying the landscape – Schumer, Kaine, Booker, Sanders, Warren, Becerra, Michael Bennett, Kamala Harris, Gavin Newsom, Joe Kennedy, the Castros, Tulsi Gabbard, etc – Democrats have a very promising set of leaders capable of carrying the Party forward.

Democrats will also have to become far more purposeful about preparing for the generational handoff from Boomer generation politicians to younger ones. The Democratic Party is a young, diverse and growing party. Its future success will depend on advancing leaders who can connect with and excite these voters. 

Big questions now about what the Obamas do, and the role they play in what comes next.

Folks Should Be Careful About Calling This A Change Election – While there is clear evidence “change” was something people sought, the country is neither as angry or disquieted as some have been suggesting. Let’s go through some data here. Incomes have been going up for four years. 2015 saw the largest income gains for American workers in the recorded economic history of the United States. The unemployment rate is under 5%. Violent crime, the killings of Americans by terrorists and the killing of police are all at rates far lower than during the Bush Administration. The uninsured rate is at historic lows. Heath inflation, the biggest driver of the deficit, has been lower this decade than in a generation. Energy prices are low, America has become a net energy exporter, and the growth of renewables is exploding. The net flow of unauthorized immigrants into the US has gone from 400,000 a year under Bush to zero today, while trade with Mexico has more than doubled.

And public opinion confirms this. In a recent Gallup poll 62% of Americans said things are getting better. 53% of Americans report that things are good in a recent CNN poll. President Obama’s approval rating is in the mid to high 50s, the highest mark of his second term and higher than President Reagan at the end of his Presidency. A recent Bloomberg poll found only 28% of Americans saying that since Obama’s election they are worse off, with 21% saying things are the same and 49% better. While the exits last night found fewer people saying better off, the number saying worse off was about the same – 27%.  And in the exits, 37% said the next generation will be better off, 34% said worse.  This simply isn't rebellion level numbers folks. 

The exits also asked a direct question – which candidate quality mattered most? 39% said “can bring change,” and they went 83% to 14% for Trump. This is a plurality, not a majority. 

This is not to say that we don’t have challenges, or that that there isn’t disquiet in the American electorate. But it is not a majority sentiment of the public at large, and was not even close to being a majority sentiment of those who voted last night. But it is a majority sentiment of Republican voters as this party break out of recent CNN data suggests:

Source: CNN/ORC poll data from September 1-4, 2016. According to this CNN/ORC poll, 53 percent of Americans believe economic conditions in the US are good. The question asked in the survey was: “How would you rate the economic conditions in the country today -- as very good, somewhat good, somewhat poor, or very poor?” See our recent report, “America Is Better Off And Safer Today” for citations for the data in this section.

Memo: 2016 Through A Millennial Lens – Some Initial Thoughts

One of the more dramatic and potentially disruptive demographic developments in recent American politics has been the explosion of Millennials into the American electorate. In terms of voting age population, Millennials now equal the other large American generation, the Boomers. 70m Millennials will be voting age in 2016, 20m more than 2012 and 35m more than 2008.

We’ve already seen the impact a big demographic change can bring to American politics. In 2004, George W. Bush won the 6 states in what we call the “Latin Belt” – AZ, CO, FL, NM, NV and TX. Today, due to rising numbers of Hispanic voters in these states, higher levels of turnout and an embrace of the Democrats, Clinton is likely to win 5 of these 6 states. Coming a few years later than a big transformation of formerly Red California, several polls of late have Texas within margin of error. Democratic gains in these heavily Hispanic states have changed the electoral map.

The same will be true for Millennials. But as they’ve been voting about 2 to 1 for Democrats it would make sense for us to begin to see disruption inside the Democratic Party first – something we did see in the Presidential primary this year with Bernie Sanders. What impact is this big Millennial surge having on the general election? We won’t know until after November 8th, but we offer some initial thoughts below. For the purposes of this analysis, we broke down each state by share of Millennial population, and ranked them. You can find that breakdown with an explanation of the methodology we used at the end of this document.

Top States by Millennial %

Bottom States by Millennial %

Alaska, Texas, Utah – three traditionally Republican states that appear to be leaning far more towards the Democrats than many anticipated are in the top five states in terms of Millennial share of their population. Alaska is 3rd, Utah 4th, Texas 5th.

A look at the recent CBS track of Texas which found the race 46% Trump 43% Clinton shows what an impact their Millennial surge is having on the partisan orientation of the state. For comparison we offer the national breakouts from this week’s Economist/YouGov poll, which had the national race 46% Clinton 43% Trump. For the record, this poll has the national 18-29 year old Trump a little lower than others. But you get the idea.


 

We put the Economist demographic breakdowns into a graph, below.  It is important to note here that the demographic break that is emerging isn’t just with Millennials.  Under 45s are now leaning dramatically towards the Democrats (essentially people who came of age after the Cold War ended).  The obvious conclusion from this data is that if these rough partisan affiliations hold as more younger people enter the electorate and vote they will make the country and many states far more blue.  The first states to be effected will be those with the largest Millennial share – states like the three above.  

We put the Economist demographic breakdowns into a graph, below. It is important to note here that the demographic break that is emerging isn’t just with Millennials. Under 45s are now leaning dramatically towards the Democrats (essentially people who came of age after the Cold War ended). The obvious conclusion from this data is that if these rough partisan affiliations hold as more younger people enter the electorate and vote they will make the country and many states far more blue. The first states to be effected will be those with the largest Millennial share – states like the three above.

The Big Battlegrounds – Another interesting trend is recent erosion of Florida and Ohio for Clinton. Both are in the bottom tier of states by Millennial population – Ohio clocking in at 42nd, and Florida 47th. Something Democrats will have to watch going forward is many of the important battlegrounds have below average Millennial percentages. MI is 40th, WI 41st, OH 42nd, PA 43rd, FL 47th, NH 49th, ME 51st (we include DC here as a state). If older people are trending a bit more Republican, these states provide fewer Millennials to make up that lost ground; but even these states are feeling the effect of this flood of new young voters.

The Millennials Are Coming – Since 2008, the country has gained 35m more Millennials of voting age. Assuming a 50% turnout rate and 2 to 1 support for Dems, this is about 6m net new votes for Democrats. As Millennials age and their turnout rates increase, the number of Millennial voters will increase as will their political influence. It is hard to see how today how this isn’t anything but an existential threat to the current Republican Party – their nominee is losing under 30s by more than 20 points even in Texas today, and between 25 and 40 points depending on the poll for the nation as a whole.

We will report back in the days after the election to see how this all plays out.

Note: We have ranked the 50 states and the District of Columbia in descending order by 2016 Millennial percentage. All the raw data is from the 2015 census. The “2016 Percentage” column approximates the # of Millennials 18 and older as a percentage of the total population of each state. It uses the 20-34 totals and takes 60% of the 15-19, given that people aged 17, 18 and 19 could vote in this election. This is an approximation of course, and we acknowledge the actual percentages will be a bit smaller given that not every 205 17 year old will be old enough to vote this year, and the populations of most states will have increased.

The “2018 Millennial column” looks at the percentage of Millennials per state assuming all 2015 15-19 year olds would be old enough to vote. Like in the first formula, this is construction is an approximation. Things will no doubt change in all these state between 2015 and 2018, but these are still apples to apples comparisons.

We would like to acknowledge that we leaned heavily on data from the Pew Hispanic Center, the Pew Research Center, and the US Census Bureau for this analysis.

Report: In A New Global Age, Democrats Have Been Far Better for the US Economy, Deficits and Incomes

Overview – This report looks at the economic performance of the two American political parties when in the White House since the end of the Cold War.  You can find the full report below, as an attachment. 

We use 1989 as a starting point for comparison because when it comes to the American and global economies, the collapse of Communism and the non-aligned movement ushered in a new, truly global economic era, one very different from the one that came before. It is thus fair to see how the two parties have adapted to the enormous changes this new era has offered, and whether their policies have helped America prosper or struggle as we and the world changed.

As you will see from the following analysis, the contrast between the performance of the Democrats and Republicans in this new economic era is stark: 2 GOP Presidencies brought recessions, job loss, higher annual deficits, and struggle for workers; the 2 Democratic Presidencies brought recovery and growth, job and income gains, and lower annual deficits.

Based on these findings it is fair to assert that over the past generation the Democratic Party has been far more effective at crafting effective responses to a new economic era than the Republican Party. This case is bolstered, of course, when recalling the GOP’s spirited predictions of economic calamity when opposing both the 1993 Clinton economic plan and budget and the 2009/2010 Obama stimulus and “job-killing” Affordable Care Act.

The Republicans have gotten it wrong now in four consecutive Presidencies.

While it will not be the subject of this short report, our findings raise questions about whether the characterizations of the US economy as one not producing income and wage gains either over 40 years or over the past 15 years are accurate. It would appear that a more accurate description of the US economy in recent years is that with smart policies, Americans can prosper even in a more challenging and competitive global age.

Key Findings From The Report:

Job Growth: Over the Clinton and Obama Presidencies, more than 30m new net jobs were created. In contrast, during the two Bush Presidencies, approximately 3.5m jobs were created.

GDP Growth: Both Democratic Presidents saw the GDP rate rise during their Presidencies. The first President Bush saw GDP hold steady during his tenure. The second President Bush saw GDP decline.

Unemployment Rate: Both Democratic presidents saw more than a 3% point decrease in the unemployment rate during their terms. The Bushes saw increases in the unemployment rate by more than 2% and 3% points respectively.

Income: Both Bush Presidencies saw Americans experience decline in their median income, while during the Presidencies of Presidents Obama and Clinton Americans experienced gains. The newly reported 2015 increase in median income of almost $3,000 is the largest ever recorded since statistics began being kept in 1967.

Deficits: Both Democratic presidents saw dramatic improvements in the annual deficit during their tenures, with Clinton turning large structural deficits into annual surpluses and Obama cutting the annual deficit he inherited by one half. Both Bushes saw increases in the annual deficit on their watches, with the second President Bush seeing a more than ten-fold increase in the annual deficit during his presidency, one of the greatest explosions of debt in US history.

Public Opinion About the US Economy: Survey after survey finds Americans believing that things are far better, and improving. According to one new report, the President’s job approval on the economy stands at its highest mark since 2009. A new report from Gallup finds fully 80% of Americans are satisfied with their current standard of living.

Healthcare: The uninsured rate has plummeted, while the growth of health care costs – a significant driver of the US budget deficit – has slowed. Slower cost growth and healthier Americans are good for the American economy, businesses and the nation as a whole.

Energy: President Obama’s “all of the above” approach has a rousing success for the nation, increasing domestic production, lowering energy costs for American businesses, lessening our dependence on foreign sources of energy while giving the US a leg up on the new energy technologies of the future.

Again, you can find the full report, below, complete with lots of charts and graphs. Enjoy. 

Report: Presidential Primary Debate Audiences

This memo looks at the audiences the Presidential Primary debates received in 2016 and 2008.  The Republicans have completed their full 12 debate schedule for the 2015-2016 cycle.  We now have the final numbers for the debate audiences for the Democrats and Republicans.  The top line analysis can be found below, and tables of the audiences of each debate which received ratings in both 2016 and 2008 can be found on pages 4 and 5 of the full memo, attached (at bottom).  More information about the debate over the 2016 debates can be found in our backgrounder (Updated on Wednesday 5/25/16).  

Summary 

2016, Republicans – 12 debates, 186.3m total viewers, 15.53m viewers per debate.   

2016, Democrats – 9 debates, 72.03m total viewers, 8m viewers per debate. 

2008, Republicans – 14 debates, 42.87m total viewers, 3.07m viewers per debate.

2008, Democrats – 16 debates, 75.22m total viewers, 4.7m viewers per debate (Dems had another 10 debates which were not rated, so total viewership was higher than 75.22m).

Key Findings

GOP Dramatically Outperforms Dems in 2016 and Rs in 2008 – In 2008, the 16 Democratic debates outperformed the 14 GOP debates by more than 53% per debate (4.7m per debate vs 3.07m).  In 2016, the 12 GOP debates have outperformed the 9 Democratic debates by a much larger margin, over 94% per debate (15.53m vs 8m).  It is a dramatic reversal. 

The 12 GOP debates have produced more than 5 times the audience per debate than their 14 debates produced in 2008, and almost 5 times the total audience.  The 9 DNC debates produced almost twice the audience per debate that the 2008 debates produced, but, in aggregate, produced a total audience 3 million less than the 2008 debates produced.  

Democratic Debate Schedule Struggles to Match 2008 – Despite very large audiences for the debates this cycle, the smaller number of Democratic debates (9 compared to 12 GOP in 2016 and 26 in 2008) means that the total audience of the Democratic debates in 2016 was 3 million less than the 2008 Democratic total, and 114m less than the 2016 GOP total.

DNC’s Original Debate Schedule Audience – The DNC’s original six debate schedule produced an audience of 48.4m.  After requests from many, including the Clinton and Sanders campaigns, the DNC added four debates on February 3rd.  The DNC also smartly brought in CNN to augment its PBS and Univision debates.  These improvements in the schedule brought an additional 24m viewers, 8m from the CNN re-broadcasts and 16m from the three additional debates conducted so far.  Augmenting the original schedule increased the overall Democratic debate audience by 50%. 

The Townhalls – While the audiences for the CNN town halls were not significant, the formats were.  Each of these programs gave viewers a window into the candidate the more rigid debate formats have not.  They have been an important innovation this cycle by the DNC, and in coming years should be given more prominence.  Our guess is if adequately promoted with more time, viewership for these town halls could be far more significant.  

 

Audience Per Debate

              

 

Total Audience

 

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