Memo: Democrats Must Focus on Kitchen Table Issues to Win in 2020

February 06, 2020

I’ve also made an ironclad pledge to American families: We will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions. And we will always protect your Medicare and we will always protect your Social Security. Always.” – President Donald Trump, 2/4/2020 State of the Union remarks

With the Senate impeachment vote behind us, Democrats must refocus our efforts on the most important issue at hand — defeating Trump in November.  While Trump is now the first president in history to have a bipartisan Senate vote in favor of their removal from office, he remains in a relatively strong position to be re-elected, with every sign pointing to a close election decided by slim margins in just a handful of battleground states. Trump argued that voters should determine whether he stays in the White House past 2020. It’s time for Democrats to ensure that doesn’t happen.

If Democrats want to win, we — and most importantly our candidates for President — must increase our focus on the issues that affect voters’ lives on a daily basis. Priorities USA polling has consistently found that messages focused on health care, drug prices, wages and Medicare and Social Security are effective both at moving voters away from Trump and at galvanizing the Democratic base. Democrats in Congress should continue to do their constitutional duty to conduct oversight and hold the President accountable, but the focus on the campaign trail must be on communicating these messages to voters.

President Trump’s State of the Union speech showed that he and his team are very aware of these vulnerabilities. During his speech, Trump spent significant amounts of time attempting to whitewash his record on these issues by staking out positions on issues like pre-existing conditionsMedicare, and Social Security that belie his actions as president. Voters will not be fooled by Trump’s lies if Democrats deliver a clear accounting of the facts.

Our last battleground poll found that 53 percent of voters viewed health care as more of a reason to elect someone other than Trump while just 29 percent viewed it as a reason to re-elect him. The numbers were not much better with white women without a college degree (a critical group for Trump). 50 percent of these voters view health care as a reason to elect someone else versus just 32 percent for re-election. There is a reason Trump is lying about his record on the issue.

Voters know the cost of prescription drugs continues to rise. We need to tell them about the $7 billion in tax cuts Trump gave big drug companies.

Voters know the cost of health care premiums continues to rise. We need to make sure they know Trump’s policies are a reason why.

Voters know they are struggling to save for retirement. We need to make sure they know Trump has repeatedly proposed cutting Medicare and Social Security.

Voters know insurance companies used to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. We need to make sure they know Trump is actively working to allow that again.

Trump knows these issues matter and is using the bully pulpit to hide the truth. If Democrats don’t do a better job of putting them front and center, we will lose a very winnable election to Donald Trump.