The Winston Group is a strategy and research firm dedicated to making ideas matter.

Roll Call: “Yes, I still believe in bipartisanship. No, I don’t believe in unicorns”

by Caitlin Peartree

The Winston Group’s David Winston writes in today’s Roll Call about why bipartisan cooperation is still possible, even in today’s political environment.

The fact that Collins and Coons were able to recruit a majority of senators to stand fast for the filibuster shows that bipartisan cooperation is possible, even if it is on life support these days. And for those who complained to me that anyone who believes that Republicans and Democrats can work together to get things done must also believe in unicorns, we saw evidence last year that cooperation can still produce crucial legislation when the need is great.

Read the full piece here.

Roll Call: “A needed lesson in bipartisanship: The Civil Rights Act of 1964”

by Caitlin Peartree

In today’s Roll Call, the Winston Group’s David Winston writes about the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its lessons in bipartisanship that are still applicable today.

Beyond the rightness of the legislation, it was bipartisan unity that delivered the Civil Rights Act of 1964. No rules were changed to get it done. This transformational legislation wasn’t jammed through on a partisan vote. Quite the contrary.

Read the full piece here.

Roll Call: “As Democrats plot to overturn Iowa result, it’s déjà vu all over again”

by Caitlin Peartree

The Winston Group’s David Winston writes in today’s Roll Call about Democrats’ ongoing attempt to oust Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa’s 2nd District, whose election was certified and who has been seated in Congress, and the similarities it bears to the situation in Indiana’s 8th Congressional District in the 1984 election cycle.

So what should Iowa voters expect when Nancy Pelosi’s nine-seat majority after the 2020 election meant that the Democratic majority on any vote could be upended by 5 switches? We know the answer. Reach back into the old playbook for Indiana’s 8th, and dust off the “rule” that says when Democrats are in the majority, even by a razor-thin margin, the House is empowered to supersede the will of the people when it is politically necessary. Translation: when Speaker Pelosi’s power is threatened.

Read the full piece here

Roll Call: “Biden’s progressive agenda doubles down on past policy failures”

by Caitlin Peartree

The Winston Group’s David Winston writes in today’s Roll Call about the $1.9 trillion COVID relief law, and how Democrats may have taken the wrong lesson from President Obama’s first two years in office:

Despite winning Congress and the White House by razor-thin margins, Democrats have decided to double down on Obama’s strategic mistake that cost his party the House in 2010. 

Their takeaway from Obama’s first two years isn’t that they lost the House because he put his progressive health care policy ahead of what people wanted: jobs. Instead, they appear to be laboring under the assumption that they may not get another chance to transform what is a center-right country into a progressive paradise. So let’s go big and, if we have to, use reconciliation or a change in the Senate rules to get it done.

Read the full piece here.

Seven Key Stats From the 2020 Election

by Caitlin Peartree

By David Winston and Myra Miller

The horrific events in the Capitol have made this one of the darkest weeks in recent history. There is no justification whatsoever for what occurred on Wednesday. While Republicans should always support election integrity in the voting process, many people have had difficulty in understanding how President Trump could have lost at the presidential level while Congressional Republicans won seats at a widespread scale, contributing to the theory that the election was stolen or rigged. 

Click here for seven statistics from the 2020 election that should help explain this gap between the Congressional and presidential vote.

Roll Call: “Bill de Blasio is wrong about New York City’s schools”

by Caitlin Peartree

The WG’s David Winston writes in today’s Roll Call about the ongoing controversy surrounding admission into New York City’s specialized high schools and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed change to the system:

But to argue whether de Blasio’s solutions are right or fair or will even work misses the truly critical point that this political debate exposes about New York City’s school system. This is an educational system that appears incapable of producing minority students who can gain admission to these specialized schools through the current merit-based testing process, and nobody seems to be asking why.

Read the rest here.

2018 Post Election Analysis: “Focus on OUR Concerns”

by David Winston

The 2018 midterm elections, for Republicans, is a story of missed opportunity. Holding the House was a tall order with history against the GOP as the party in power and the large number of Republican retirements But a path to preserving their House majority, even if a difficult one, did exist if the election became all about the economy. It didn’t.

This post-election analysis, based on exit poll data from the National Election Pool, done by Edison Research, and the Winston Group’s Winning the Issues post-election survey, done Election Night, assesses the 2018 campaign that began and ended with the fight for the election narrative.

There is no question that money was a significant disadvantage for Republicans in this election, but this report outlines the opportunities that existed which could have led to a much better result for them, especially in terms of what the electorate heard from both Republicans and Democrats. This report also shows that the election outcome was not the result of an ideological or party identification realignment, but instead a shift in vote preferences. This means that Republicans still have an opportunity to rebuild their majority coalition for 2020…

Read or download the full PDF report.


The Future of Ads

by David Winston

On Wednesday, Mary Meeker, a venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, released her highly acclaimed annual report on Internet trends and technology. One of the findings of this year’s report was that people are trending toward mobile devices faster than ad dollars are keeping up. From the Washington Post coverage of the presentation, “Meeker sees mobile advertising growing another $22 billion in the United States because the time consumers spend on mobile devices — 25 percent — is more than double the share of ad dollars the platform receives. However, a major concern is the 420 million smartphone users who utilize ad-blocking technology.” If people are shifting toward mobile devices but with large numbers using ad blockers, ads of the future will not only have to be more adept at transitioning to mobile devices and away from traditional platforms, but the content will have to be more compelling.

To inform how ads might be more compelling, we looked at which sources are most influential in shaping political views, from research we conducted for the Ripon Society earlier this year.  Not unexpectedly, news media sources were not among the most influential sources on a person’s political views. By far, voters overall and across party cited their own experience as the largest influence on their political views (69%). Family (36%) and education (34%) fell into a second tier of most important influences, followed then by the media (29%).

Given the current media and campaign environment, these results indicate that ads of the future intended to shape views about a candidate or issue will have to be credible and informative enough for people to see the personal impact and how the content can become part of personal and family discussions. This may sound difficult, but it can be done, as exemplified by a recent exchange in a focus group in a competitive Congressional district. In that discussion, we heard a college-educated, independent female (a key voter group for this year’s midterms) describe her reaction to the provisions of the tax plan – not messaging – simply the basic provisions of the plan. After seeing the provisions of the plan and how it could impact her personally, her response was “I’m going to go home and have a drink with my husband and tell him about this stuff because I think it’s fascinating. This has been so interesting.

With the right kind of content that voters find personally relevant and informative, ads can provide content and information that can become part of personal discussions that voters are having, and those kinds of ads can have a much greater impact. The ideal reaction to an ad of any kind would be that a voter discusses it at home with family and concludes that “this has been so interesting.”

Hillary, Capitalism, and the Democratic Party

by David Winston

In a May 2nd interview, Hillary Clinton was asked if describing herself as a capitalist hurt her presidential aspirations. Her response was “probably…it’s hard to know.  But I mean if you’re in the Iowa caucuses and 41 percent of Democrats are socialists or self-described socialists, and I’m asked ‘Are you a capitalist?’ and I say ‘Yes, but with appropriate regulation and appropriate accountability.’ You know, that probably gets lost in the ‘Oh my gosh, she’s a capitalist!’” 

In the new survey from Winning the Issues (April 28-30), we asked voters if capitalism or socialism is the better economic system. One out of two voters (52%) said capitalism, with 17% answering socialism, but with about one-third (31%) that did not know. Among Democrats, the results were much more evenly split, with the largest group of Democrats (39%) being undecided on this question, and the remainder being split between capitalism (30%) and socialism (30%).

  • Moderate Democrats leaned toward capitalism (33%) over socialism (23%), but the largest percentage were undecided (44%).
  • Liberal Democrats were split among all three with a slight edge toward socialism (35%).
  • Among those who said they voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, there was a small lead for capitalism (36%) over socialism (28%), but with another third that did not know (36%).

These results indicate that there is a significant level of debate within the Democratic Party about the merits of capitalism and socialism, and with the large percentages of undecided, there is a clear lack of consensus among Democrats about the best economic system.


Roll Call: When the Survey Says the Holocaust is Fading Away

by Emily O'Connor

In light of data suggesting that younger Americans are less aware of the facts around the Holocaust, WG’s David Winston reflects on a lesson learned as a teenager and the importance of passing down history:

All these years later, I now understand that when Mr. Michele decided to tell me about his life, he didn’t really mean it to be about him but about the millions who didn’t survive. He wanted me to remember the scale and the meaning of the Holocaust.

Continue reading here.

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