Keep Calm & Carry On (With the Work)

November 13, 2023

To: Interested Parties

From: Danielle Butterfield, Executive Director, Priorities USA

Date: 11.13.23

Subject: Keep Calm & Carry On (With the Work) 

Many of you have seen pundits’ unending choose-your-own-adventure of polling that undercuts President Biden. It’s no surprise that these findings have caused a stir among the political chattering class, with a wide range of reactions (and overreactions). While close polling should be taken seriously, we at Priorities know that polling should not be taken literally. At the end of the day, this election will be hard fought, but it’s winnable if we put in the work. And the results on Tuesday night prove to us that campaigns matter.

2024 is going to be another tough fight:

Over the past few years, at one point or another someone in our lives has said some version of “there’s no way Trump can win, right?”

If you work in this space, you’ve known that this has never been the case. You likely didn’t need a poll to tell you that 2024 is going to be a tough fight and a tight race. If you did, welcome to the fight. 2020 was close. 2016 was close. 2024 is no different.

While our research confirms this, it also gives an edge to President Biden. As shown in our Snake Chart below, Biden has multiple paths to 270 and beyond. 

While polls are an important data point, they are just part of the puzzle for our forecasts. We also take into account fundamentals like GDP growth and approval ratings, as well as electoral trends, including off-year elections. As we saw with the election results just this week, Democrats have a lot to be optimistic about. Priorities was proud to do our part to build enthusiasm and the habit of voting in Pennsylvania; and we’ll continue to do so across the battleground heading into next November. 

Of the states most likely to decide the 2024 election, Democrats have won statewide in every single one since Joe Biden won them in 2020, including highly contested Governor and Senate races, and just this week, a statewide Supreme Court race in Pennsylvania.

No matter what polls or forecasts you read, the states that will decide the election haven’t changed, and it’s up to us to reach and persuade voters in those states over the next year.

We have a clear path to victory:

 Joe Biden can win reelection with a coalition of voters who have already voted for him. This is a huge advantage, though it can’t be taken for granted. Over the next year, Democrats need to communicate Biden’s accomplishments (which are consistently popular among voters) while reminding voters that this election is a choice between two directions for the country, and one of those paths is extreme and dangerous.

Our job is to maintain and grow the Biden coalition within the battlegrounds that Biden won

 in 2020: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Within these states, Priorities’ key audiences are Black, Latino, and Asian voters, young people, and persuadable independents. 

For the past several cycles, Priorities has been testing messages and targeting these groups, and all of our research has shown that reaching them online with content that will resonate and break through will get us to victory.

  • Biden’s accomplishments are popular, and move voters when communicated to them in tangible terms they can easily connect to their real lives
  • The most effective contrasts between Trump and Biden are abortion, health care, and political violence like January 6th. All of these issues have fundamentally new contexts that weren’t present in the last election and present new opportunities to move the needle away from Trump if we invest in amplifying them

Republicans are going to be stuck with a candidate who is extremely vulnerable to damaging attacks on abortion and January 6th, and we are going to spend the entire campaign making sure these contrasts are at the top of voters’ minds.

We win when we do the work: 

Just this week we saw Democrats win big in elections across the country. This included wins in Republican held legislative districts across Virginia, Presidential bellwether Pennsylvania, and “deep-red” Kentucky. These wins were made possible by investing online and embracing an effective message: reproductive rights were on the line.

Based on our AdHawk tracking data, Democrats doubled Republican spending online in Pennsylvania in the lead up to the election with an effective message that resonated with voters. While Republicans were rolling out bio spots, Democrats embraced talking about abortion.

This recipe-for-success can, and will, be replicated in 2024.

If you find yourself worrying about polls a year out, channel that energy into the fight. Instead of worrying over polls, concerned citizens (or even some pundits) can donate, organize, volunteer or roll up their sleeves. Campaigns matter, and we have a year to fight for the future of this country.


Danielle Butterfield