February 13, 2017
By David Weigel
Priorities USA, the super PAC that has transitioned from a pro-Hillary Clinton effort to progressive strategy group, argued in a memo Monday that Democrats were strongly positioned to win back voters who went for Donald Trump.
“Soft Obama-Trump backers were drawn to Trump because of his business persona and the perception he is not a typical politician,” wrote Priorities USA’s Guy Cecil in a memo distributed to activists and reporters Monday. “Undercutting that appeal will be key to winning them back. These voters are particularly concerned that Trump will break his promise of ‘giving power back to the people’ and that he will put the interests of wealthy elites and big businesses first.”
The super PAC’s study, conducted by the Global Strategy Group & Garin Hart Yang, asked for answers from 801 Obama-Trump voters (in an online test) and from three sets of focus groups in Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida, where the Democrats’ decline with white voters vis-a-vis previous Democrats was most acute.
Its analysis of the voters made for a rough contrast with the PAC’s 2016 ad campaign, which, like Clinton’s, messaged more on Trump’s persona than on economic issues. One finding of the memo quietly highlights what was missed: 58 percent of “soft” Trump supporters “feel their income is falling behind the cost of living.” While the memo warns that voters who switched from Obama to Trump, and voters who failed to turn out in 2016, were “concerned that Trump’s temperament will get us into a war,” ads about Trump’s tone and temperament flopped last year.
According to the memo, Trump and Republicans will present Democrats some opportunities to win back voters for whom Trump’s temperament was not a deal-breaker. Republicans, Cecil argues, are unlikely to deliver the sort of infrastructure program that Trump pledged during the campaign. Gettable voters were also likely to reject a hasty repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
“Ensuring all Americans have access to affordable insurance is at the top of these voters list of priorities,” writes Cecil, “and nearly half (46 percent) of Obama-Trump voters with mixed feelings say repealing Obamacare without a replacement in place is a major concern about Trump.”