WASHINGTON, DC – With the Iowa Caucus just days away, The Ripon Society held a luncheon briefing yesterday afternoon to release the results of a national survey it conducted that focused not only on the political environment in 2016, but the economic views and concerns of a key part of the American electorate this year – the middle class.
“A lot has been written in recent months about the angry voter of the 2015-2016 election cycle,” stated veteran strategist Ed Goeas, who conducted the survey on behalf of The Ripon Society and led yesterday’s briefing. “Dissatisfaction with Washington and the direction of the country is nothing new with the American electorate. Whether Republicans or Democrats have controlled the White House, the Congress, or both, over 60% of voters have felt that the country was off on the wrong track for well over a decade. Indeed, voters are remarkably negative about the status quo and direction of the country, and those feelings have grown even more intense in recent years.”
“Simple sloganeering like ‘Hope and Change’ is not going to meet the smell test with voters this political season. The current political environment has voters thinking the federal government is an ineffective mess that is causing more harm than good. However, they still want this government to be doing more — more that works, and works for them. Nowhere is this truer than with the middle class, 70% of whom believe the federal government is part of the problem, not part of the solution. In addition, 60% of middle class voters believe that the government would not be able to effectively implement a solution to a major problem.
“As with the broader electorate, 69% of middle class voters feel that the federal government is not doing enough to solve the problems facing the country. Compounding this, the middle class also has deeply held feelings that the next generation will not do as well as their generation, moving the American Dream further from their reach. Seventy-five percent believe that with the current federal government solutions, the rich get the benefits, the poor get the programs, and the middle class get the bill.”
According to Goeas, The Ripon Society national survey also revealed a number of areas the GOP should focus on to increase their support among middle class voters this year.
“The economic issues that are important to middle class voters are the kitchen table/pocketbook issues on which Republicans should have the advantage,” he stated, adding that the top issues in this regard for middle class voters were:
- Creating jobs (20%)
- Reducing the cost of health care (15%)
- Reducing the deficit (14%); and,
- Cutting taxes (11%).
“These are all issues on which a political party who is united on the need for fiscal responsibility should be able to make a compelling case for improvement to voters.”
Goeas stated that the best way to begin solving these and other problems important to the middle class is by focusing on the fiscal challenges facing America. To that end, he added that Paul Ryan deserves credit for doing just that during the first three months of his Speakership.
“Speaker Ryan has already taken a big step in that direction by framing the economic goal of his speakership as creating greater upward mobility in our society. That economic goal receives 79% agreement with the total electorate and middle class, 77% with Republican voters, and grows to 81% with middle class whites and 82% with middle class African Americans.”
Goeas concluded by once again stressing the importance of middle class voters to the GOP this year.
“Winning the hearts and minds of middle class voters will be an enormous help for Republicans,” he stated. “Winning the strong support of these voters will ensure a Presidential victory and will ensure that Republicans maintain control of Congress. Making an effective appeal to middle class voters will also ensure that Republicans achieve a level of support from minority voters not seen since at least 2008. The road to winning at the polls in November will run through the middle class and the road to winning with middle class voters runs through convincing them of your intention to make economic mobility a real possibility.”
To read the analysis of The Ripon Society’s national survey and view accompanying slides, please click on the links below:
The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.