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

Roll Call: “Biden still leads the pack despite a bruising debate performance. Thank African American voters”

by Caitlin Peartree

The WG’s David Winston analyzes Joe Biden’s prospects coming out of the first Democratic primary debates:

Harris may have won the night when it comes to the first debate, certainly in the eyes of the media. But there is little evidence to claim that Biden has lost the nomination, for one important reason — his continuing support within the African American community, a fact the Harris campaign must have clearly considered in crafting their debate strategy.

Read the full piece here.

Roll Call: “As the Democratic debaters chase their base, Trump has a prime opening”

by Caitlin Peartree

The WG’s David Winston writes in today’s Roll Call about the first of the Democratic primary debates, starting tonight.

For the moment, most of the Democratic hopefuls seem stuck in the reality-free bubble of their base, where anything and everything Trump does (including a good economy) is evil and bad and probably directed by Vladimir Putin anyway.

The question is, will we see something different Wednesday night?

Read the rest here.

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.

Roll Call: “Democratic voters are channeling Mick Jagger”

by Caitlin Peartree

The WG’s David Winston in today’s Roll Call on how satisfied or not voters are with the Democratic House majority:

Democrats seem to be experiencing the same curse that plagued the Republican majorities of the past decade — a significant portion of their party base has greater expectations than their leadership can deliver. For Republicans, it was the failure to get rid of Obamacare. For Democrats, it is the failure to get rid of Donald Trump or pass “Medicare for All.”

Read the full piece here.

Roll Call: “Dinner with the Queen was exactly what Trump needed”

by Caitlin Peartree

The WG’s David Winston writes for Roll Call about how Trump can be both presidential and himself:

Some would argue that we need to let Trump be Trump. That’s how he won in 2016, and you shouldn’t argue with success. But to ignore the obvious political advantages every sitting president enjoys would be a major mistake because it’s possible to do both: let Trump be himself and set a more presidential tone.

Read the rest here.

Roll Call: “Gleeful Democrats pulled off the perfect tax scam”

by Caitlin Peartree

The WG’s David Winston writes for Wednesday’s Roll Call about the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

There’s been a lot of disinformation floated from the presidential field. What seems to rarely enter the tax cut debate, however, is a little reality, whether it’s about the bill’s impact on the economy over the past two years, or this week, Democrats’ complaints about the size of people’s 2018 federal income tax refunds.

Read the full piece 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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