2 0 T SP 19 he EC St Ri IAL at po R e o n EP f t So OR he ci T: Ele ety ct ’s or at e
“I learned my passion for public service from my father.” Carol Miller, in our latest Profile
February 2019 Volume 53, No. 1
MINORITY MATTER ADVICE FOR THE HOUSE GOP With essays by Michael Johnson, Sarah Chamberlain Resnick, Tom Davis & Cam Savage
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“Ideas that matter, since 1965.“ Volume 53, Number 1
Beyond the Beltway
Cover Story (cont’d)
Winning Back the Suburbs By Sarah Chamberlain Resnick The “war” between the White House and the media has created a toxic political environment that has turned off many suburban voters. To win in 2020, the GOP has to win them back in 2019.
Building a More Diverse GOP By Cam Savage Women make up just 6% of the House GOP Conference and just 12% of the total number of women in the House. This is an abysmally small percentage for a party aiming to be a national party.
A Final Post-Mortem on the 2018 Mid-Terms... and a Preview of the Challenges Facing Republicans By Tom Davis There is a reason the party of the sitting President has lost seats in the House in 36 of the last 39 midterms. That is because anger drives turnout, and the “out” party is generally more motivated.
Straight Talk from El Paso on Border Security & Immigration Reform By Dee Margo According to the Mayor of this city along our southern border, Mexico is the largest trading partner for Texas, and instituting policy that will detrimentally affect that trade is unacceptable.
Politics & Perspective 6
The Rise of Free Lunch Economics & the Growth of Our National Debt By Maya MacGuineas Even if Congress and the President are successful in implementing a plan to grow the economy, it is not going to be enough to grow our way out of our debt problems.
8 Ballot Harvesting: Mend It, Don’t End It By David Wolfe The 64% turnout in California in the 2018 general election was the highest in a mid-term since 1982. This should be celebrated -- as long as it is accomplished legitimately. Cover Story 10
Making the Minority Matter: Advice for the GOP By Michael Johnson If Republicans in the U.S. House pursue a positive agenda, it won’t mean capitulation; far from it. Opposition is as much a part of governing as is compromise.
Publisher The Ripon Society
Editor Lou Zickar
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Special Report 20 State of the Electorate 2019 By Ed Goeas & Brian Nienaber The results of The Ripon Society’s Annual Survey of the American voter. Sections 3 25 28
In this Edition News & Events - breakfast with Tom Cole Ripon Profile - U.S. Rep. Carol Miller
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RIPON FORUM February 2019
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THE RIPON SOCIETY HONORARY CONGRESSIONAL ADVISORY BOARD U.S. Senators: Shelley Moore Capito - Senate Co-Chair Cory Gardner - Senate Co-Chair Marsha Blackburn Roy Blunt Richard Burr Bill Cassidy, M.D. Susan M. Collins Steve Daines Joni Ernst Deb Fischer John Hoeven Jerry Moran Pat Roberts Mike Rounds Thom Tillis Roger Wicker Todd Young U.S. Representatives: Susan W. Brooks - House Co-Chair Greg Walden - House Co-Chair Martha Roby - Vice Chair, South Darin LaHood - Vice Chair, Midwest Mike Kelly - Vice Chair, Northeast Dan Newhouse - Vice Chair, West Frank Lucas - Vice Chair, Southwest Mark Amodei Don Bacon Andy Barr Vern Buchanan Larry Bucshon, M.D. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. Ken Calvert Buddy Carter Tom Cole Doug Collins Rodney Davis Sean Duffy Tom Emmer Brian Fitzpatrick Bill Flores Kay Granger Sam Graves French Hill Bill Huizenga Dave Joyce John Katko Adam Kinzinger Bob Latta Billy Long Kevin McCarthy Michael McCaul Cathy McMorris Rodgers John Moolenaar John Ratcliffe Tom Reed Tom Rice Steve Scalise John Shimkus Steve Stivers Glenn “GT” Thompson Mac Thornberry Mike Turner Fred Upton Jackie Walorski Brad Wenstrup Steve Womack
In this Edition
Shortly after he was elected Republican Leader of the House of Representatives in 1965, thenCongressman Gerald Ford was asked a simple but straightforward question: “What is the mission of the minority?” Ford’s response was equally straightforward: “The mission of the minority,” he declared, “is to become the majority.” Not surprisingly, Ford was immediately criticized for his remarks. “There were outraged screams from several Democrats in the House,” he recalled in a speech at Tulane three years later. “This, they said, was a narrowly partisan point of view. This was evidence that I was so hungry for power that I would place party before country.” No doubt there would be a similar reaction if a Republican Leader in Congress were to give a similar speech today. Indeed, Mitch McConnell was lambasted for an interview he gave shortly before the 2010 mid-terms, when he said his “top priority” as Senate Majority Leader would be to make sure Barack Obama served no more than one term as President. And yet to the extent that politics is ultimately a competition between two governing philosophies, one could argue that the top priority for all elected officials should be to make sure that their philosophy ultimately prevails if they truly believe the country will be better off as a result. The key, of course, is how to go about achieving this goal. In his 1968 speech at Tulane, Ford offered his own thoughts on the matter. Explaining why he believed Democrats were so outraged to learn that the mission of the minority was to win the majority, the future President stated, “I personally believe they were simply startled to find a Republican with the audacity to think his party could regain control of the Congress and to set about constructively trying to accomplish that objective.” What’s notable is that Ford added the word “constructively” to the typewritten copy of his remarks. It is written, in cursive and in presumably his own handwriting, above the line — indicating that while Ford believed winning the majority was important, he also believed it was important to achieve that goal in a way that was beneficial to the country. In this latest edition of The Ripon Forum, we focus on that same goal — namely, how Republicans in the House, who were swept out of power by the Democrats last fall, can put their newfound minority status to use in a way that not only serves the interests of the party, but the interests of the American people, as well. Leading our coverage of this topic is veteran House Leadership aide Michael Johnson, who provides advice to the House GOP on how they can go about “Making the Minority Matter.” To the extent that suburban support for GOP candidates is at or near an all-time low, Republican Main Street Partnership President Sarah Chamberlin Resnick offers her insights on how the party can go about “Winning Back the Suburbs” next year. With only 13 Republican women serving in the House, strategist Cam Savage explains why “Building a More Diverse GOP” will be critical for Republican fortunes next year. And with Democrats raising 30% more money than their Republican counterparts in the 2018 mid-terms, former NRCC Chairman Tom Davis shares his thoughts on GOP efforts to level the financial playing field and how the party can be more competitive in 2020. As part of our recurring Beyond the Beltway feature, Mayor Dee Margo delivers some “Straight Talk from El Paso on Border Security & Immigration Reform.” With the national debt topping $22 trillion for the first time in U.S. history, Maya MacGuineas, the President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, has a blunt message for those who claim that rising red ink will be washed away by continued economic growth (hint: it ain’t gonna happen). California-based political consultant David Wolfe takes a look at the practice of ballot harvesting and explains why, with reform and proper oversight, it can serve the public good. In a special report Ed Goeas and Brian Nienaber of the Tarrance Group analyze the results of The Ripon Society's Annual Survey of the American electorate. And in our latest Ripon Profile, newly-elected Congresswoman Carol Miller discusses her priorities in office, and how the service of her father, the late Congressman Samuel Devine, has shaped her own political career. As always, we hope you enjoy this latest edition of The Ripon Forum, appreciate your readership, and welcome any thoughts or comments you may have. Lou Zickar, Editor email@example.com RIPON FORUM February 2019
Beyond the Beltway
Straight Talk from El Paso on Border Security & Immigration Reform by DEE MARGO Today’s political environment is toxic. Whereas there and culture of our nation. It is not feasible nor appropriate to should be proper decorum via “adult” behavior, we have two pursue policies attempting to deport “Dreamers.” parties clamoring over one another claiming victories over The other 12 million undocumented immigrants rhetoric instead of results. As children, we are taught there is a within the United States should be vetted as to character or “Golden Rule” as to how to treat people, and we seem to have criminal background checks and given a Green Card. Those forgotten that important lesson. individuals with a criminal background should be deported. The most recent showdown resulted in a government For those who focus on the illegality of these immigrants, closure that lasted for several weeks. After the dust cleared, I simply say the ‘egg’ is broken! We are at our best when media and political pundits on both we welcome those with different sides of the aisle jumped to claim backgrounds and cultures into our victory for their party. But at the end community. of the day there were no winners. In True immigration reform will the wake of the shutdown, families are require leadership and fortitude still recovering from being unable to to pass. However, the U.S. pay their bills, and no compromise was Department of Homeland Security struck on border security. must set clear expectations and There are countless issues our define “border security” prior to country needs to address, but most any discussion. My hope is that of them will be used as political hotEl Paso is invited to the table and potatoes with the purpose of making asked about the impact proposed the other party lose seats in 2020. policies will have on a true border While this is the nature of the beast community. of politics, I implore our legislators to The commerce that travels break the cycle and take on the issues daily across El Paso’s ports of Dee Margo that are important to all Americans: entry is pivotal to the economic immigration reform, border security, success of El Paso, Texas and the and enhancing our economy. United States. El Paso’s unique 115,000 jobs in El Paso As Mayor of El Paso, Texas, geographic location allows us to and 559,000 jobs in the the largest U.S. city on the Mexican tap into an international workforce Border, one of our legislative priorities State of Chihuahua, Mexico and trading opportunities. 115,000 is immigration reform and defining in El Paso and 559,000 depend on our cross border jobs border security once and for all. El jobs in the State of Chihuahua, commerce. Any rhetoric Paso and Juarez, Mexico have over 400 Mexico depend on our cross years of history that have seamlessly implying otherwise is false border commerce. Any rhetoric blended U.S. and Mexican traditions implying otherwise is false and and should immediately and culture. Despite our experience, should immediately be retracted. border communities like El Paso Mexico is Texas’ largest trading be retracted. are vilified rather than consulted on partner, and instituting policy that immigration policy reforms. will detrimentally affect that trade Congress has long postponed pursuing legislation on the is unacceptable. Deferred Action on Childhood Arrival program, or “DACA.” It is time for Washington D.C. to put the American “Dreamers,” or immigrants who were brought here as children people before partisan politics. It is what we do in El Paso, and have served in the U.S. military, should be granted and that is one of many reasons we continue to be one of the citizenship automatically. Others who have not served should safest cities in the United States. RF be given the option of a Green Card or path to citizenship. These immigrants have heavily contributed to the economy, history, Dee Margo serves as the 54th Mayor of El Paso, Texas. 4
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Politics & Perspective
The Rise of Free Lunch Economics & the Growth of Our National Debt by MAYA MACGUINEAS
Figuring out how to grow the economy on a sustained billion this year (1.8% of GDP) to $928 billion (3.0% of GDP) basis is one of the more urgent economic challenges of the in a decade. In fact, interest payments are the fastest growing moment. part of the budget. So yes, our interest rates are currently quite I would also include: dealing with growing income low — though we have no idea if they will stay low; and yes, inequality; getting our national debt under control; and, we should still worry. developing larger structural reforms to modernize our capitalist Free Lunch Argument #2: “Tax cuts will pay for system to reflect the new “tech & data themselves.” This of course was the economy.” argument that was used to justify But, the more economic growth, massive tax cuts rather than the tax the easier the other pieces will be. We reform that would have been more should then be engaged in an honest prudent. The tax cuts will add roughly and disciplined attempt to evaluate $2 trillion to the debt over the decade, how much growth is realistic, and the and it was argued that they only best ways to achieve it. (sounds small, but is actually quite But instead of working on a large) needed to increase growth by comprehensive growth plan filled with 0.4% per year to pay for themselves. ideas like productive aging, developing Credible estimates project that they a pro-growth immigration plan, finding will increase growth by roughly 0.1%. smarter tax bases and cleaning up It cannot be said enough: tax our tax breaks, and shifting towards cuts do not pay for themselves. They an investment-based budget, our do generally grow the economy, but policymakers are intently focused on not by nearly enough to cover the lost pursuing ‘free lunch economics.’ revenues. Maya MacGuineas Adherents of free lunch economics Free Lunch Argument #3: “Some point to things they already wanted things -- actually most things -- are to do. They also make exaggerated too important to pay for now.” Even if we are successful just claims about the growth they are We have grown accustomed to the in implementing a likely to create. Finally, they argue claim that certain priorities are too that actually paying for these policies darn important to pay for. Priorities comprehensive plan to is too hard, is unnecessary, and is like: national emergencies; raising grow the economy, it is anti-growth. They are like credit-card the discretionary spending caps for junkies who refuse to face hard truths. defense and other domestic spending; not going to be enough Well, with the national debt topping stimulus spending during recessions to grow our way out of $22 trillion for the first time in history, (which could and should be offset our debt problems. it’s a good time to not only review over the long-term). I can promise you some of the arguments that free lunch there’s about to be a long list of new adherents make, but present them with important spending priorities with a some cold, hard facts they cannot refute. much, much shorter list of how to pay for them. But the only Free Lunch Argument #1: “Deficits don’t matter because reason not to offset the cost for these priorities is because it’s interest rates are so low, and will stay low” – The fact is that politically difficult. At this point in the business cycle, where while low rates reduce the burden of borrowing, they are stimulus isn’t needed, not paying for new priorities is just nowhere near low enough to bring the debt to sustainable saying you would rather have someone else pick up the tab. levels. Our current plan is to borrow another $12.5 trillion over That someone else is our children and grandchildren. the next decade. This is on top of a debt-to-GDP ratio that is the Here’s the reality: growth is likely to be significantly lower highest this country has ever seen other than right after World going forward than it has been in the past. Demographics are War II. Our interest payments are projected to grow from $383 now working against us, and labor market growth will be much 6
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slower given the aging of the population. The lower estimates spending increases. If we do, they would all need to be about we see from all major forecasters of long-term growth rates of 0.8 points higher. around 2% reflect that demographic reality. A realistic plan to bring down our debt trajectory will A really smart policy agenda could boost this rate by a few include securing Social Security and other trust funds headed tenths of a percentage point. Talk of permanently sustained toward insolvency, controlling the growth of healthcare costs, growth rates of 3%, 4% and more increasing revenue, and reducing are just not based in reality. spending -- along with hopefully So the second reality we face higher levels of growth. Those It would require growth of 5.6% is that even if we are successful in are what are known as hard to bring debt relative to GDP implementing a comprehensive choices, necessary tradeoffs, back to historical averages over plan to grow the economy, it is and budgeting. not going to be enough to grow We should do what we can ten years. our way out of our debt problems. to grow the economy. But the In fact, it is the reverse â€“ if we growth fairy is not going to be enact smart policies to reduce our the answer to our glaring fiscal debt, that will help with longer-term growth. challenges. That will require the kind of leadership that we have It would take sustained growth of 3.2% to stabilize the not seen in recent years, but hopefully we will see again soon. RF debt at 70% of GDP. Or growth of 3.9% to stabilize at a more desirable 60%. It would require growth of 5.6% to bring debt Maya MacGuineas is the President of the Committee for a relative to GDP back to historical averages over ten years. Responsible Federal Budget as well as the President of the These numbers assume we donâ€™t extend the recent tax cuts and Campaign to Fix the Debt.
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harvester who collected it. If the individual didn’t vote, the ballot could be disputed. Finally, to further limit potential fraud, a harvester could be permitted to only collect up to 10 ballots per election cycle. Texas and Colorado have a similar restriction, and it is a far preferable solution to California, where, under AB 1921, an unlimited number of ballots per person are allowed to be turned in. In the last election, one harvester in Orange County submitted over 200 ballots at one time. Clearly, that doesn’t mean those ballots were collected fraudulently. But this restriction would minimize the risk of this occurring. by DAVID WOLFE Voter turnout was dramatically higher in California in As is true of so many ideas in the public policy arena, November, and ballot harvesting had at least something to do the question of whether ballot harvesting should be allowed with it. In fact, the 64% registered voter turnout was the highest in a mid-term election in the state since 1982. This should is filled with nuance and is not a black and white issue. The idea is not a partisan one. After all, predominantly be celebrated -- as long as it is accomplished legitimately. Republican states such as Texas and Utah have ballot Unfortunately, California election law over the last decade harvesting. So do predominantly liberal ones, such as has had a tendency to take good ideas that increase voter participation and distort them into something unworkable. Oregon and my home state of California. Obviously, it occurred All nuance aside, the tension with ballot harvesting. But it’s here in the Golden State over also occurred with legislation the issue of ballot harvesting is approved in 2014 that allowed palpable. On the one hand, no absentee ballots to be received up voter should be disenfranchised to three days after the election, as and prevented from casting his or long as they were postmarked her ballot, especially due to age on Election Day. Prior law said or disability. On the other hand, that ballots needed to be received the prospect for fraud is real and at the County Registrar’s office legitimate. by the time the polls closed on Three months after the 2018 Election Day. The bill came in mid-term elections, there continues response to 150,000 ballots in to be much handwringing in one county not being counted California GOP circles about the that were otherwise legitimate. practice of ballot harvesting, as In theory, it’s not a bad bill. If perhaps there should be when a Conservatives should work you mail your ballot by 5:00 pm state Congressional delegation to do everything possible to on Election Day, it should count. loses half of its membership. But improve the current However, the legislative bill allegations about fraud in this took the idea too far by saying area remain unproven. And while harvesting system. ballots would still be counted if individuals are of course entitled the postmark was illegible, or if to their opinions, conservatives in California and other states where ballot harvesting is legal it didn’t have a postmark at all. Regardless of political persuasion, no one wants to would be better served by raising money to take better see voters disenfranchised. But unless voter integrity is advantage of this new voter outreach tool. Beyond that, conservatives should work to do protected, California runs the risk of making a mockery out everything possible to improve the current harvesting of its voting system. We’ve already seen this at the DMV, system. For instance, ballot harvesters could not only be where individuals are automatically registered to vote unless certified and trained by county election offices to collect they specifically opt-out, leading in some cases to nonballots, but also be required to wear identification badges, citizens being registered to vote. Safeguards must be taken as well. There could also be citizenship requirements, or to ensure every legitimate vote is counted and the chain of requirements that harvesters be registered to vote in the custody for absentee ballots is preserved. This clearly hasn’t RF county where the ballots are collected. Further, country been done with ballot harvesting in California. registrars could be required to call or mail absentee voters during the canvassing period following the election to David Wolfe is the President of Well Versed Consulting, a ensure that their ballot was collected and submitted by the lobbying and marketing firm based in Sacramento.
Mend It, Don’t End It
RIPON FORUM February 2019
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MINORITY MATTER ADVICE FOR THE HOUSE GOP by MICHAEL JOHNSON
About 75 percent of House Republicans have never served in the minority in that body. The other 25 percent have probably told them it stinks. That may be especially true with a Republicancontrolled Senate that actually won’t control much, a Republican President who’s got his own problems, and a Democratic leadership locked in a bitter, take-noprisoners battle with the President. Historically, Republicans have had plenty of experience as a minority party, about 163 years of it since the party first began electing its own to Congress in 1856. 10
The longest stint was from January of 1957 until January of 1995, when Newt Gingrich became the first Republican Speaker since Joe Martin of Massachusetts, who, like Nancy Pelosi and several other Speakers, transitioned from Minority Leader to Speaker and back again. Both parties have experienced the elation of political power and the deflation of having it taken away. Demotion to the minority is made more palatable, however, by recognizing that the minority has a legitimate and important role to play in ensuring the balance of power in government stays balanced, in keeping a skeptical — but not cynical — eye on the majority, and communicating
RIPON FORUM February 2019
the distinctions between governing philosophies. Critical, with small neighbors and global superpowers. too, is ensuring that the minority is not just the opposition, A good case study also occurred during the Clinton but a “loyal opposition” that, when the times call for it, Administration, particularly the defeat of the first version will enter into partnership to actually govern the country. of Obamacare called Hillarycare. House Republicans The nature of minority status — you could almost say established a task force headed by future Speaker Dennis it has its own culture — is shaped by a number of factors, Hastert. The Hastert task force in turn developed a viable among them: alternative, the Health Care Reform Act of 1994, which - The duration of time in the minority; was introduced by Republican Rep. Michael Bilirakis - The ratio of Democrats to Republicans; of Florida and Democrat J. Roy Roland of Georgia. A - The ideology of the other body and the other branches coalition was built around the bill, eventually ending the of government; Hillarycare movement. - The existence of a public mandate; and, During that same period, the North American Free - The leveraging of shifts in geopolitics/demographics. Trade Agreement, which was supported by Clinton, There are problems of was adopted in the House with minority status. One is a bipartisan support, cooperation minority mentality in which across the aisle, and a strong members become comfortable outside coalition. and complacent with their status. The lesson is each Another is partisan defiance, the circumstance requires its own scorched-earth mindset, which solution. It may be an amendment asserts that majority status must be strategy, use of the motion to restored at all costs. Legislating, recommit (which is one of the compromise, cooperation are not cornerstones of minority access in the game plan. to the legislative process), an A third approach is alternative bill, or just flat out constructive, a middle course. opposition. It is one in which the minority Few approaches are embraces an activist agenda and successful without an open picks its battles and the ground pipeline of communication Michael Johnson on which those battles are fought. between Democratic and Pursuing a positive agenda does Republican leaders, between Pursuing a positive not mean capitulation; far from key rank-and-file Democrats it. Opposition is as much a part and Republicans, and among agenda does not mean of governing as is compromise. staff. This is especially true in capitulation; far from it. It demonstrates to the American the orbit of committees where people an ability to govern and bipartisanship is well-grounded -Opposition is as much more so, a willingness to crack Appropriations, Armed Services, a part of governing as is through the walls of partisan Agriculture, Veterans Affairs compromise. gridlock to do so. and Transportation. Members There are good lessons on should attempt partnering with minority status in the annals of Democrats of like mind if they congressional history. can find them on issues of mutual interest. Opportunities also exist working with the Senate majority. Underlying all cross-party pollinating is a value The Past is Prologue Today’s minority has similarities with the Reagan, essential to any successful relationships in politics -Bush, and Clinton years. Throughout most of those eras, trust. Constructive communication cannot take place in a Republican minority in the House was partnered with its absence. a GOP Senate majority and a Republican President. The Reagan partnership performed pretty well. It achieved Unity is Key a significant realignment of national priorities and a Another cornerstone of minority status is unity. That successful legislative agenda to implement them. While requires leadership with vision, common sense, and an there are important and fairly obvious dissimilarities, open door to members who want to govern. there are examples of good governance and an effective It is important, as well, for the minority to have an minority in the treatment of budget impasses, omnibus effective presence on the House Floor, with leaders who appropriations, tax reform, trade, and international crises know the Rules of Procedure and a designated watchdog RIPON FORUM February 2019
who is a master of the rules and precedents of the House. Republicans must also, if humanly possible in this There have been many highly skilled and effective environment, promote civil discourse and civil behavior watchdogs in the past, such as Reps. Derwood “Doc” among members and staff. That is not done easily from Hall of Missouri, H.R. Gross of Iowa, Bobby Bauman of the perch of the minority. Maryland, and Bob Walker of Pennsylvania. Finally there’s the audience. Mountains of research When you can’t legislate, communicate. There are will point members of the minority toward the ideal two elements to this. One is private communications, as constituency, but not all of politics is science. I was mentioned before. The other is public communications, looking out the window the other day and watched my mostly through the media. Traditionally, communications neighbor coming home from work. He was walking has been Republicans’ Achilles Heel. It hurts. slowly. He looked tired. I saw in him tens of millions Communicating is more difficult in the minority of other people in this country who are embarking on and requires a distinct communications strategy. The or coming to the end of a daily grind working, rearing media have less interest children, paying taxes, being in listening to members responsible citizens, and who are perceived to have keeping out of harm’s no influence and, worse way. They haven’t become yet, align themselves with wealthy, but I am sure they the media’s evil nemesis, consider themselves rich -President Trump. in family, community, faith, Three major changes and their life experiences. in the media/infotainment They should be the industry have complicated focus of attention -- not GOP opportunities. One defined by geography, is the advent of the wild, race, gender, age, religion, wild west of unpredictable or nationality, just people behavior and damaging trying to do what’s right as distortions of political best they know what is right realities in social media. It and what they want for their is a blessing and a curse. fellow citizens. Two, American journalism If members and staff act has embraced political as they would want them President Ronald Reagan announces a budget and ideological alliances to act, and govern as they agreement in Nov. 1987 with House Minority Leader that have not been this would want them to govern, Bob Michel and Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole. pronounced in 150 years. many voters who decided Three, competitive forces a few months ago that the in media have created Today’s minority has similarities precious cloak of majority an insatiable appetite for status belonged on someone with the Reagan, Bush and extremism, division, and else’s shoulders may well showmanship. Pomposity, rethink that decision next Clinton years. righteous indignation, time. RF outrage, foul language, a little character assassination, and disloyalty to leadership Mike Johnson is a former journalist who worked on the are all marketable media magnets. Ford White House staff and served as press secretary It’s a tough marketplace. It is not easy to be responsible, and chief of staff to House Republican Leader Bob pragmatic, and serious about public policy and get any Michel, prior to entering the private sector. He is coattention. But there are ways. A clown suit, a few card author of a book, Surviving Congress, a guide for tricks and a cartwheel on the East Front lawn help. congressional staff.
“Ideas that matter, since 1965.“ 12
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The Suburbs by SARAH CHAMBERLAIN RESNICK Last November, the GOP experienced a sharp drop their own direct-to-constituent communications in voter support in America’s suburbs. It was a critical channels as possible. Connect with voters by reason Republicans lost the House majority. Winning articulating a positive vision with compassion. back suburban voters is achievable if we can execute a Develop creative ways to use social media and have plan along the following lines: in-person, in-district “kitchen table” conversations - Create a dialogue with voters that is more with constituents. inclusive and less polarizing. Republicans have actively pursued real solutions - Focus our conversation to issues that are top-ofwith constituents on mind with suburban and issues that are most moderate voters — the important to them and kinds of things that will their families. make a real difference - Recruit and support in the everyday lives of more female candidates. those voters. As House The ongoing “war” Republican Leader between the White House Kevin McCarthy has and the media has created said repeatedly in recent an increasingly toxic weeks, Republicans will political environment continue to “put people that has turned off many before politics.” suburban and moderate These key issues voters. These groups include: are critically important H ealth care; to Republican electoral T he economy; and, success. N ational security. It would probably Health care The ongoing “war” benefit Republicans frequently tops the list between the White House greatly to take a page from of voters’ concerns. In and the media has created an President Ronald Reagan’s my experience, suburban playbook. His reputation voters are less concerned increasingly toxic political as the Great Communicator about whether we repeal environment that has turned was well-earned. He was Obamacare or move relentlessly optimistic. to a Medicare for All off many suburban and His approach was always system. They are more moderate voters. simple, clear, and caring. concerned about the In recent years, media practical issues of daycoverage of the Hill has produced voters’ perceptions to-day living—getting drug prices down, seeing the of chaos and a “dis-connection.” In the last Congress, doctor of their choice and finding cures of diseases Republicans made significant strides in many areas like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and more. In that received scant media attention – it didn’t fit the this case, it’s putting patients before politics. “conflict politics” storyline that the media wanted to This is an area in which a Republican-led report. Congress made greater strides than the media Republicans should assume that this is unlikely to coverage might have voters believe. For example, change through the 2020 election cycle. It’s important in 2016, Congress passed the 21 st Century Cures to GOP candidates, therefore, to create as many of Act. The law provides $4.8 billion over ten years in RIPON FORUM February 2019
additional funding to the National Institutes of Health. Congress passed the Stop School Violence Act, and It also streamlines regulation and increases funding to included resources to help identify threats and prevent speed up the development of life-saving drugs, reform violence from taking place on school grounds. When our mental health system, and provide resources to local schools receive funding and resources, America’s battle the opioid crisis. superintendents, teachers, and parents can best Another law passed that received too little media determine what methods can be implemented to keep attention—the Right to Try law—was enacted last their kids safe. It’s a good start and one we need to year. It allowed terminally ill patients to get access to build upon. experimental drugs to extend their lives. Americans Lastly, we need to work to recruit more women with terminal diseases don’t have many options. Once candidates. The number of women in Congress is at an diagnosed, they don’t have much time. They should all-time high – today, 102 women serve in the House be able to access treatments and 25 in the Senate. that could potentially While this represents prolong their lives. Right movement in the right to Try allows patients to try direction, it isn’t one in treatments that have passed which the GOP has fully FDA safety testing but have participated. Of the 25 not yet received final FDA female Senators, only 8 are approval. Having an extra Republicans. Similarly in few months with loved ones the House, only 13 of the can make all the difference 102 women now serving are for terminally ill patients and Republicans. their families. I think the trend of Putting people ahead female participation in of politics must continue to politics is only going to grow define the GOP vision for and accelerate. The GOP health care. must make it a priority to As to the economy, few identify, train, and support issues occupy voters’ minds viable female candidates. Sarah Chamberlain Resnick more. Millions of Americans In conclusion, as we look sitting around their kitchen toward 2020 and beyond, tables want not only to be Republicans need to keep Republicans have actively able to make ends meet, but putting people ahead of pursued real solutions to they want a future of greater politics by continuing to work opportunities for themselves on the issues that profoundly issues that are top-of-mind and their children. The impact our constituents in with suburban and moderate GOP must emphasize its everyday life. commitment to those goals Having a positive voters — the kinds of things and bring greater attention vision of the future and that will make a real differto the job growth we’ve articulating that vision ence in the everyday lives experienced over the past few with a compassionate voice years as well as the middlewill have a much greater of those voters. class benefits of tax reform. appeal to a broader slice National security is very of the electorate, including important to suburban voters. I believe that securing suburban and moderate voters. the homeland means more to most voters than just And offering the opportunity to elect more diverse national defense, which of course, is important. and talented candidates will also appeal to those voters But we need to pay even greater attention to in suburban districts. preventing domestic acts of terror. Making our schools This is the path forward that members of the safe is of the utmost importance. As a single mother, Republican Main Street Partnership are working on the last thing I want to have to worry about is whether to create the tomorrow of opportunity that Americans my daughter will be safe at school. Our loved ones want for themselves and future generations. RF must be safeguarded from random acts of violence, especially our children. Sarah Chamberlain Resnick is the President of the To improve school safety, the Republican-led Republican Main Street Partnership 14
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Building a More Diverse GOP by CAM SAVAGE There is a crisis in Washington among Republicans that opportunity. One Republican woman seeking to address the crisis is has been ignored over the last few election cycles. House Republicans – reduced to 197 members (with Representative Elise Stefanik, who has not only been willing two vacancies) after the 2018 midterms – count among their to speak up about the lack of women in the GOP caucus, but ranks only 13 women members plus two non-voting female stands prepared to do something about it. Stefanik hails from upstate New York and before coming to delegates from Puerto Rico and American Samoa. Republican women make up just 6% of the House GOP Conference and Congress worked in the Bush White House and later managed Paul Ryan’s Vice-Presidential debate preparation. In 2014, are just 12% of the total number of women in the House. she became the youngest This is an abysmally woman ever elected to small percentage of Congress, a distinction now representation for a party held by fellow New Yorker claiming to be -- striving to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. be -- a national party. Last cycle, Stefanik In contrast, the 89 helmed the NRCC’s female Democrats in recruitment program, where Congress account for nearly she helped recruit more than forty percent of their caucus 100 women to run for the and have seen their numbers House in 2018. Only West more than double from 41 Virginia’s Carol Miller made female members two decades it to Congress out of those ago. 100 candidates, with many While the number of failing to secure the GOP Democrat women in the nomination. House has steadily increased Susan Brooks & Elise Stefanik are spearheading the Stefanik herself over the last three decades, effort to elect more women Republicans to the House. understands the difficulty; Republican women in the in 2014, she not only won a House are at their lowest point Democrat-held seat but first since they added six female Republican women make up just had to win a hard-fought members to their ranks in the 6% of the House GOP Conference seven-figure primary. Now, 1994 midterm landslide. The 1994 Republican Revolution and are just 12% of the total number she hopes to help more GOP women do the same and has brought more Republican of women in the House. turned her attention to not women to Washington, but it just recruiting strong female wasn’t a sustaining trend. candidates, but to helping In the 2016 presidential election, women were 53 percent of the electorate and provide them with resources, campaign skills, advice, and supported Hillary Clinton by 13 points, 54-41 according to connections important to winning general elections — but more importantly, primaries. national exit polls. It isn’t just a problem in Washington; women are Last year, the 2018 midterm election narrative was dominated first by women’s marches, then by the fundraising underrepresented in the state legislatures that often serve as success of Democratic female candidates, and ultimately by training grounds for members of Congress. And fewer state female midterm voters who sent a record number of Democratic and local female GOP officeholders means fewer potential women to Congress. It was those midterm elections that cut the candidates with policy and political experience, name ID, and fundraising experience that can only be gained by running for number of GOP women in the House from 25 to 13. As I said, it’s a crisis. But in every crisis, there is and serving in state and local office. This is precisely the gap RIPON FORUM February 2019
Stefanik seeks to help candidates bridge. Republicans have acknowledged this problem, and those The Republican leadership and the National Republican like Stefanik endeavor to do something about it, but no one Congressional Committee have been supportive of Stefanik’s should expect the gender disparity among House Republicans efforts. And even though the NRCC won’t take sides in primary to dissipate overnight. It will take a sustained effort, but already races – as Stefanik is ready and willing to do – there will be an there are promising signs. Strong female candidates are stepping added emphasis on recruiting forward to run in districts female candidates who can across the country, with This is an abysmally small win in 2020. dozens more considering Leading that effort as bids. percentage of representation for a NRCC Recruitment Chair will The most assured party claiming to be -- striving to be way to increase the be Indiana Congresswoman Susan Brooks, a former U.S. ranks of GOP women is -- a national party. Attorney who, like Stefanik, by recruiting a massive won election to Congress after number of candidates and a bruising primary election she wasn’t supposed to win. Brooks then helping them acquire the tools they need to fight through has consistently been among the highest GOP vote-getters in her primary elections on their way to 2020. And that is exactly what suburban Indianapolis district. Stefanik aims to do. RF What Brooks and Stefanik both understand is that the Republican Party’s struggles with women voters is reflected in Cam Savage is a principal & co-founder its makeup in Congress. Fewer female members of Congress of Limestone Strategies, a political means fewer female voices on television and in communities consulting firm located in Indianapolis advocating for Republican principles. More than half of voters and Washington, D.C. He is a former are women, and those voters need to hear from women on both regional political director for the National sides of every debate. Republican Senatorial Committee.
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RIPON FORUM February 2019
1/8/2019 1:00:50 PM
A Final Post-Mortem on the 2018 Mid-Terms
â€Śand a preview of the challenges facing Republicans ahead. by TOM DAVIS
The 2018 midterm losses for Republicans in the House only resulted in minorities being packed into safe Democratic of Representatives were the largest since the Watergate enclaves, but allowed Republicans to prevail in the districts election in 1974, when they lost 49 seats. around them where the minority populations were vastly Many Republicans were surprised at the extent of reduced. Along those same lines, gerrymandering also these losses, but many of these benefitted Republicans because results were in line with historical they drew the vast majority of metrics. For example, in the Congressional district maps. prior three mid-term elections There were other key factors, where one party controlled the as well. President Trumpâ€™s House, Senate and White House, radioactivity with suburban the majority party lost seats each educated women and minority time. groups shifted suburban districts In 1994, when Bill Clinton away from the GOP, as voters was President and Democrats sought to put a check on the controlled both chambers of President rather than giving him a Congress, Democrats lost 54 blank check. Moreover, enthusiasm seats in the House. Likewise, in among the Democratic base voters 2006, when George W. Bush was tilted the turnout model against President and his party controlled Republicans in any district with a both chambers, Republicans lost degree of housing density. 30 seats. And in 2010, when Tom Davis ActBlue & Barack Obama was President and the Green Wave his party was in charge of things Perhaps the least Perhaps the least discussed, but on Capitol Hill, Democrats lost 63 discussed, but probably probably the most important change, seats in the House. in the 2018 election dynamics was The fact that Republicans had the most important the huge Democratic spending substantially over-performed in change, in the 2018 advantage in Congressional races. the prior election years of 2014 election dynamics was From Super PACs to small donors and 2016 increased the likelihood to direct PAC contributions to that the party would bleed some the huge Democratic candidates, the Democrats raised seats in a correction year like spending advantage in 30% more money than their GOP 2018. However, operating against counterparts. Seasoned Republican the historical grain were several Congressional races. incumbents with strong committee key factors. For instance, the assignments were outraised by economyâ€™s performance was well little known Democrats in both above mid-term averages and should have benefitted the incumbent party. The GOP was also greatly advantaged competitive and non-competitive districts across the by the way districts were drawn either through residential country. The intensity of hostility against the Trump presidency sorting patterns, which sees Democrats live in tightly clustered cities, or through the Voting Rights Act, which not drove not just billionaires, but also millennials, students, RIPON FORUM February 2019
Democratic intensity was palpable in every special and housewives to open their wallets and with the aid of ActBlue, a little-known bundling operation out of election, in the Virginia legislative elections, and in the Somerville, MA, allocate many campaign dollars to number of Democratic candidates running leading up to little-known Democratic challengers across the country the 2018 midterms. There is a reason the party of the by election day. This allowed mediocre, unknown, sitting President has lost seats in the House in 36 of the and often disconnected candidates to run professional last 39 mid-term elections. That is because anger drives campaigns and turn formerly safe Republican seats into turnout, and the “out” party is generally more motivated. competitive races. In the case of President Trump, anger at the out party Republican leaders have now coalesced in an attempt and a desire for change drove his 2016 upset victory. But to replicate ActBlue’s performance, which accumulated instead of consolidating and expanding his base, as a more hard money than was raised, in total, by the DCCC. minority President, he doubled down. This had the effect The new entity is called the of throwing gasoline on “Patriot Pass” platform, the fire for his opponents, and will be up and running who were still smoldering for the 2020 campaign from his 2016 victory. cycle. With 2020 being a While establishing the Presidential election year, “Patriot Pass” is a good voters’ interests will tend and much needed step, to gravitate toward the it is important to keep Presidential race, which in mind two key points is the focus of the media about ActBlue and the circus and where the big challenges of matching the dollars go. That dynamic performance of Democrats will give Congressional in this regard. Republicans somewhat of First, ActBlue has been a reprieve from the dollar up and running for over a onslaught they suffered decade. Its branding has in the 2018 midterm been a 14-year proposition, elections. and it is a well-known and However, they should easy conduit for relatively also remember that the uninformed, but passionate largest fundraiser for From Super PACs to small donors Democrats to contribute Republicans is Donald to direct PAC contributions to to the cause. It claims Trump, and he is liable to to have raised over $3.1 soak up the lions’ share candidates, the Democrats raised billion dollars since its of small contributions for 30% more money than their GOP inception, and has allowed his own reelection, not the counterparts. Democrats who live in reelection of Congressional safe Democratic enclaves Republicans. to make an impact in Make no mistake – the competitive and Republican areas elsewhere. Patriot Pass is an idea that is long overdue. But Republicans It will take years for the Republicans to reach the have much catching up to do, and a mechanism to bundle same level of penetration. Ask yourself –does the contributions does not produce unless there is a passionate name Patriot Pass convey the same sense of urgency constituency to fuel it. It took ActBlue 14 years to produce and partisanship as ActBlue? Beyond the semantics, its record results in 2018. Republicans are woefully behind the simple fact of the matter is that it will take years and should not expect to catch up in one election cycle. to develop the lists and level of familiarity that ActBlue But Patriot Pass is a much needed jump start for the currently enjoys. Nevertheless, the Patriot Pass platform GOP if it is to level the financial playing field and gain back is an important start and a tribute to the various vendors the House majority. RF and cliques that came together for this important creation. Tom Davis represented the 11th District of Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2008. For four Looking Ahead Still, it will be extremely difficult to match the of those years, from 1999 to 2002, he served as Chairman intensity that ActBlue’s contributors demonstrated in of the National Republican Congressional Committee. He is currently a partner at Holland & Knight. 2018. 18
RIPON FORUM February 2019
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State of the Electorate 2019 Analysis by ED GOEAS & BRIAN NIENABER This year begins with a challenging political environment voters would like to see less involvement by the federal for conservatives. A majority of voters think the country is government in healthcare. on the wrong track, and a majority of voters disapprove of On immigration, the fertile ground for a deal continues the job performance of the President. In addition, the issues to be a combination of comprehensive increased border on which voters most want action â€“ immigration, health security measures and providing legal status for illegal care, the economy/jobs, and the budget/debt â€“ are the issues immigrants who were brought here as minors. Most voters which have gridlocked agree with the premise Congress for the past two that immigration has made years. Indeed, policy the country stronger. disagreements over the top On trade, the plurality concern of immigration of voters thinks the trade are a prime driver of dispute with China will the recent government have a negative impact shutdown. A plurality of on their personal finances. voters blames President On international relations, Trump for the shutdown. most voters want America Despite the challenges to continue to work of the current political closely with our allies. environment, most voters On privacy, more continue to agree with the than one-third of the premise for conservative electorate is extremely governance. A majority concerned about the of voters continue to security of their private believe that the federal information though voters government is part of divide evenly on whether This will be a challenging year for the problem. However, they want the federal a majority of voters also President Trump. Voters want to see a government or private continue to think that the change in the direction of the country, companies to take the lead federal government is not on protecting private data. but most voters are not ready to trust doing enough to solve the problems facing the the President to provide solutions to Political country. There is real get the country back on track. Environment frustration among voters Voters are frustrated about the lack of problem with the current political solving in Congress as environment. A strong majority of voters (62%) believe more than eight-in-ten voters think there are not enough that the country is on the wrong track, including a majority politicians willing to go against their political party even of voters (54%) who strongly believe this. In contrast, when that is the right thing to do. under one-third (31%) of voters think the country is headed On specific policy solutions, a majority of voters reject in the right direction. Majorities of Democrats (89%), all three proposed methods for additional infrastructure Independents (72%), and even 29% of Republicans and funding. Despite most voters thinking Obamacare has kept 24% of Trump voters think the country is on the wrong health care service at the same level or made it worse, the only policy solution to achieve majority support is an effort track. Despite these negative sentiments, direction of the to make bipartisan improvements to Obamacare with cost country has been upside down for close to a decade and has being the top concern for voters. In addition, a majority of been as high as 64% on the Real Clear Politics average as 20
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recently as September 2017. This frustration with the direction of the country is also seen on the job approval rating for President Trump. A majority of voters (55%) disapprove of the job performance of the President, including 48% of voters who strongly disapprove. In contrast, 42% of voters approve of his job performance. Like the direction of the country, majorities of Independents (69%) and Democrats (93%) disapprove of his job performance though just 9% of Republicans disapprove. However, the President does have a majority disapproval rating among key voting blocs like suburban voters (59%), 2016 swing state voters (59%), seniors (55%), Hispanics (58%), those with some college education (52%), and female non-college graduates (57%). In addition, the President is upside down with one of his strongest 2016 supporters, white voters (49% disapprove). The shutdown has caused a movement in the Presidentâ€™s job approval rating so that voters who were frustrated with his personal behavior but accepting of his job performance have turned negative on his job performance. However, despite this decline, the President has held his strong approval rating steady. Courting and holding the support of these strong supporters is a key goal for the Trump White House. Both of these measures indicate this will be a challenging year for President Trump. Voters want to see a change in the direction of the country, but most voters are not ready to trust the President to provide solutions to get the country back on track. The President will need to work with Congress, particularly the House of Representatives, whose leaders have limited incentive to cooperate with him. This political challenge will make finding policy solutions very challenging. As seen in the chart above, the top issues that voters want Congress and President to work on are immigration, health care, the economy/jobs, and the federal budget/debt.
There is a stark political divide on prioritizing these issues. A majority of Republicans (58%) select illegal immigration as their top issue. For health care, more than three-in-ten Democrats (31%) select this as their top issue. Independents divide on their top issue of concern with health care (21%), the federal budget/debt (19%), economy/ jobs (16%), and immigration (16%) all being selected at a notable rate. This issue matrix is also a troubling sign for getting things done in Congress this year. Republicans want action on immigration. Democrats want action on health care, and Independents want action on a variety of issues. This presents a real challenge for setting legislative priorities for action. Regarding the current government shutdown, a plurality of voters (48%) hold President Trump most responsible for this shutdown while another 38% of voters hold the Democrats in Congress most responsible. As you would expect, blame is filtered through a partisan lens with 82% of Republicans and 84% of Trump voters thinking the Democrats in Congress are most responsible. In contrast, 85% of Democrats hold President Trump most responsible. However, a majority of Independents (55%) blame President Trump for the shutdown. This data reinforces the challenge of finding a solution for this shutdown. The shutdown has not hurt the Presidentâ€™s standing with core Republican voters, and these voters continue to be willing to blame the Democrats in Congress for the shutdown. A compromise that ends the shutdown is likely to meet with derision by many of these base GOP voters. On the other side, the Democrats have successfully made the case to both their voters and to Independents that the shutdown is the fault of President Trump. Continuing to make the President look to be unable to solve this issue is helping them politically. When both sides think they are benefitting from the status quo, making a change is politically challenging.
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Philosophical questions on the federal government
After explaining the need for improvements to infrastructure, three proposals on infrastructure funding were tested. Responses are summarized in the chart below. As seen in the first chart at the bottom of this page, all of these proposals face majority opposition with the electorate. Finding more federal funding for infrastructure will require other funding mechanisms or a substantial amount of voter persuasion.
A strong majority (65%) of voters think the federal government is part of the problem for the challenges facing their families. This is in line with the findings from 2015 and 2017 on this question. Even majorities of seniors (65%), African Americans (67%), Hispanics (59%), Democrats (59%), and liberals (58%) select that government is part of the problem. However, three-in-four voters (75%) think the government is not doing enough to solve the problems Obamacare/health care reform facing the country. This represents a 9-point growth in Asked for their views of the health care system since those selecting not enough since the 2017 survey. Even Obamacare took effect, a plurality (40%) of voters think the a majority of conservative Republicans (66%) think the health care system has gotten worse. Among other voters, 31% government is not doing enough to solve the country’s think health care has gotten better, and 26% think health care has problems. stayed about the same. These views lead to A majority (67%) of lowThree-in-four voters (75%) think frustration with elected income voters think health officials. More than eightcare has gotten worse (34%) or the government is not doing in-ten voters (81%) think stayed the same (33%). These enough to solve the problems facthat there are not enough are the voters who should have politicians in Washington seen the most benefits from ing the country. willing to go against their Obamacare. political party when they Along similar lines, a think it is the right thing to do. This includes 66% of the majority (52%) of voters working for small businesses think likely electorate who strongly believes this. health care has gotten worse. These are the voters most likely to So, most voters think the government is part of the have had bad outcomes from Obamacare. problem while also believing that the government is not This situation – beneficiaries being ambivalent to negative doing enough to solve problems as well as believing that on the law’s impact and many others thinking the law has made there are too many politicians committed to their political things worse – should provide an opening for making reforms party instead of to finding solutions. Leaders in Washington to the Obamacare law. Four possible reforms of Obamacare were tested. are facing a frustrated and skeptical electorate as they try to Responses are summarized in the second chart below. govern.
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As these results show, making bipartisan improvements is the only proposal with majority support. Both parties in Congress would do well to find ways to work together to improve Obamacare if they want to reform this law. However, even this modest and vague proposal has strong majority opposition among Republicans (69%). Any efforts at reform will need to also include significant outreach to Republican voters on the merits of this reform. In addition, it should be noted that Medicare for All is opposed by a majority (53%) of seniors. Most seniors are not interested in expanding Medicare to include citizens from other age ranges. Voters are also given five possible areas for improvement via health care reform and asked to select the most important and next most important area for improvement. Responses are summarized in the chart at the top of this page. As seen in the chart above, both of the most selected areas deal with cost â€“ reducing the cost of health insurance and making prescription drugs more affordable. Reforming health care in ways that lower costs for consumers will be reforms that respond to the concerns of significant portions of the electorate. In fact, a majority (57%) of voters say they would prefer less involvement from the government in health care, including 47% of voters who would strongly prefer this. Having less involvement is the preference of majorities of Republicans (83%) and Independents (54%) and 34% of Democrats. Health care reforms in which the government uses regulations to lower costs without having an outsized role in the health care insurance market would please a strong majority of the electorate.
Voters were presented with three (3) proposals on immigration. Responses are summarized below. As seen in the chart at the bottom of this page, a deal on immigration reform that incorporated increased border security with providing legal status for Dreamers would have the support of the majority of the electorate. Building the wall has turned into a politically divisive issue. Fully 88% of Republicans and 93% of partisan Republicans support building the wall while strong majorities of both Independents (68%) and Democrats (92%) oppose building it. Despite these differences, there is broad agreement (66%) among voters that immigration has made the United States stronger. Even 45% of partisan Republicans agree with this assertion.
Voters were read a brief description of the trade dispute with China, including the use of tariffs by both countries. Voters were then asked to gauge the impact of these tariffs on their personal economic situation. Forty-two percent (42%) of voters believe this trade dispute is going to have a negative impact on their personal finances. However, a majority of voters (53%) think this trade dispute will have no impact (36%) or a positive impact (17%) on their personal finances. These views are driven by partisanship. Majorities of Independents (52%) and Democrats (61%) think this trade dispute will have a negative impact on their finances while just 18% of Republicans share this view. This trade dispute is a political issue and not yet an economic one.
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Voters were read the two statements below on international relations and asked to select the one that most closely matched their own views. 1. America is best when it acts alone on economic and defense issues, is not bound by international agreements, and puts the wellbeing of its own citizens above the rest of the world; or, 2. America is best when it works closely with our allies to increase global prosperity and defend freedom against global threats. Two-in-three voters (67%) select the second option about working closely with allies. Even 44% of Trump voters select this option. Despite the rhetoric of the President and others in the Republican party, most voters still want America to be engaged with its allies.
There is support among voters for a policy solution on immigration that combines enhanced border security with providing legal status for dreamers. In addition, while voters are not feeling the immediate economic impact of the trade disputes with China, most voters still prefer for the United States to remain engaged in the world. Lastly, many voters are concerned about data privacy, and creating a public-private partnership to better protect data would find favor with many voters. RF
Methodology All respondents interviewed in this study were part of a fully representative sample of N=800 registered likely voters. Responses to this survey were gathered January 14-17, 2019. The confidence interval associated with a sample of this type is Âą3.5% in 19 of 20 cases.
In what looks to be a challenging year for conservatives with a political environment trending against them, there are fruitful areas for conservative advocacy. Voters agree that the federal government is part of the problem and want politicians willing to take bold actions.
Ed Goeas is President & CEO and Brian Nienaber is a Vice President at The Tarrance Group, one of the most respected and successful Republican research and strategy firms in American politics today.
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News & Events
Cole Talks About Challenge Facing Democrats & Why He is Optimistic about GOP Prospects Next Year WASHINGTON, DC — Over the course of his more-than-three-decade long career in public life, Tom Cole has built a reputation as one of the top strategists and legislative tacticians in America. Both talents were on full display at a breakfast meeting hosted by The Ripon Society on February 7th, where the Oklahoma lawmaker shared his thoughts not only on the political challenges facing the new Democratic majority, but the reason House Republicans lost their majority and why he remains optimistic about GOP prospects next year. “It was a referendum election,” Cole stated, referring to the contest last fall. “It was a midterm on a Republican President. The election was more about President Trump than anything else, whether he was on the ballot or not. We actually went into that election better prepared than I’ve ever seen a majority go into what we knew from the very beginning would be a very challenging time. Nobody’s had a good mid-term since 2002. President Bush was operating in the shadow of 9/11. He was extraordinarily popular, and we were able to defy history and pick up a six congressional seats that year. “In 2018, we knew we were going to have a tough time and we went into it with something we didn’t have in ’06 or ’08 — a very good record to run on. We were in a period of relative peace in terms of the post-9/11 period and had great prosperity. The Republican Congress had been very consequential — not only in partisan areas like the tax cuts and deregulation, but also frankly if you were sort of in a blue district or a purple district, you could run on
veterans’ issues. You could run on the job that we had done in human trafficking. “There were a whole series of bipartisan things that had been accomplished that didn’t get as much publicity because they weren’t controversial. But they gave you an issue portfolio if you were a Barbara Comstock or someone like that. You could actually run on something that
could appeal to your district.” Cole represents the 4th District of Oklahoma in the House of Representatives, a position he has held since 2003. Prior to his election, he served as Chief of Staff of the Republican National Committee, and spent four years serving as the Oklahoma’s Secretary of State. He also served as Executive Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee – an organization he touched on in his remarks. “The NRCC was as well prepared as I’ve ever seen it,” he said of the Committee’s efforts in the 2018 campaign. “My friend Steve Stivers did an unbelievable job, and we RIPON FORUM February 2019
had a whole series of weapons we’d never had before. The Congressional Leadership Fund that Speaker Ryan had set up … Believe me, I’ve done a lot of elections, and we’ve never had anything that spent millions of dollars like that.” The problem that Republicans faced had to do with enthusiasm – not on the part of GOP voters, who were very motivated to vote, but on the part of Democrats, who were more motivated to vote than they ever had been before. “65% of our voters were anxious to vote in 2010,” he said, pointing to the last time Republicans won back their House majority. “At the same point in 2018, 64% of our people were anxious. So we had enthusiasm at about what we had when we had the greatest victory that the Republicans have enjoyed since 1938.” Unfortunately for Republicans, the level of enthusiasm among Democrats was even greater. “In 2010,” Cole stated, “38% of Democrats were anxious to vote in the upcoming election. In 2018, it was 74%. If you go back and look at the numbers, we had the highest off-year turnout since 1912. But both sides showed up in unusual numbers … The real thing was just massive Democratic turnout, and you could see that again and again and again.” The veteran Republican then turned his attention to the next election and why – despite last fall’s setback — he is optimistic about GOP prospects in the coming year. “Looking ahead to 2020, you might say, ‘Oh, my gosh — it’s going to be terrible,” he observed. “I would 25
submit we don’t know yet. And I and one rule vote on a veterans issue had a Democratic Senate. And then two would submit that for a couple of that we passed unanimously in the last years after that, she had a Democratic reasons. First of all, it’s not going to Congress and the Senate didn’t get President. Beginning in 2007, she could be a referendum election. It’s going around to doing. So we’re not fighting put almost anything she wanted on to be a choice election — and not just anything yet because they aren’t doing the President’s desk. She can’t do that about Donald Trump. It’s going to be anything yet…” today.” about who’s on the other side. And as “This is a majority that does not Cole concluded his remarks by I watch the Democratic field scramble have an agenda. This majority just ran talking about the President and his State ever further to the left, and I think about against the President. Didn’t run on of the Union Address the other night. campaigning against Medicare-for-All much of anything. I guarantee — if “Donald Trump is the most and the abolition of ICE and the Wealth you look at a Democrat from a Trump unorthodox, unusual, unconventional Tax, I kind of like that. District and AOC, they ain’t the same political figure I’ve ever seen in “I think I can make my case pretty people. They can’t possibly vote my life,” he stated matter-of-factly. well, and I think we could make it the same way. But the energy in the “Anybody who tries to predict anything frankly in a lot of the swing suburbs we Democratic Caucus is on the left. And about him is almost always wrong. I lost. Karen Handel who is a wonderful you see Speaker Pelosi, in my view, have been wrong consistently about the Member, her district was a 20%+ catering to that energy. In the process, President, and he has surprised me both Romney district, a 1.5% Trump district, if she’s not careful, she’ll put 30-odd for good and ill on occasion. is one of the 10 most highly educated members that she has in a very, very “I did not go into the chamber districts in America, and is one of the difficult situation. Tuesday night expecting to hear a 20 most affluent districts in America. “If you’re from Oklahoma and you conventional Presidential address. But That’s ground we can come that’s what we heard. That was back and win in the right kind the best speech he has given of presidential year against the since he’s been President “You can’t run an election just right kind of opponent. With of the United States. It was 30-odd Trump seats out there, also the first time I’ve seen against Donald Trump. You we have a chance … him actually reach beyond actually have to be for something.” his base to try and do what “There are only three [Republican House members] Tom Cole - Remarks to conventional politicians do. who are sitting in seats that He can’t win the next election The Ripon Society with just his base. He’s going Hillary Clinton won. So we don’t have a lot of vulnerable to have to bring some other seats and the environment people in. That’s going to will be better. And if anything, our look at the new Green Agenda that’s require a change in style and tone and energy level will be higher. So I don’t emerging from the Democratic Party, if temperament, and it’s going to call for put it beyond our ability to retake the you are from an oil and gas state, bring it defining the enemy. And he did both majority. It would be very unusual to do on. Look, we’re not against alternatives of those things on Tuesday night. He it, but it’s not impossible to do it.” — we get over a third of Oklahoma’s changed his style a little bit. Taking off his hat as a political electricity from wind power. But at “I don’t know any Republican strategist, Cole then put on his hat as a the end of the day, I sort of doubt that who wasn’t comfortable defending the legislative tactician and talked about his anybody who replaced my good friend President after the State of the Union new role as the Ranking Member on the Pete Sessions in Dallas or replaced my Address. He avoided temptation. In other House Rules Committee and why the good friend John Culberson in Houston words, he didn’t take the cheap shot. position is so important for Republicans wants to run on the Green Agenda. There was no name calling. He didn’t go this year. “They’re going to start spitting off the script. He offered compromise, “It’s the first place where the out stuff pretty quickly that unites and he also began defining the opposition. argument is going to be made about Republicans and divides them. You That line about socialism was not an what the Democrats have proposed,” can’t run an election just against accidental line. It’s also one, by the way, he stated. “Fortunately, we’re going to Donald Trump. You actually have to be that Leader McCarthy uses quite a bit have a lot to argue against when they for something. Our job is again to lay if you listened to him about redefining finally get their act together.” down that initial argument. And this is where the Democratic Party is. This As it stands now, he noted, there is where Speaker Pelosi is in a much more may not be Ronald Reagan and George not much to argue against. difficult position, I think, than most Bush’s Republican Party. But I guarantee “Look at this week,” he stated. people recognize. this isn’t Bill Clinton’s Democratic Party “What are we dealing with? Suspensions “The last time she was Speaker, she anymore, either.” RF 26
RIPON FORUM February 2019
Name: Carol Devine Miller
Current job: Bison farmer, small business owner, and U.S. Representative of West Virginia’s Third Congressional District
Past positions held: I served in the West Virginia House of Delegates from 2006 to 2018, where I became the first female Republican Whip in West Virginia history. Previously I also served as Assistant Majority Leader and the Chair of the Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Committee. Why did you run for Congress in the first place? I ran for Congress because I knew West Virginia needed a strong leader who would fight for important issues in our community and work to make our country a better place. What was the number one issue that people asked you about during the campaign? Jobs and the economy. Throughout the campaign, I met so many people who are excited about the new opportunities in our growing economy and are ready to get to work. I want to make sure that West Virginia remains a place where people can live, work, and prosper for generations to come. Following up on that, what are your top legislative priorities over the next two years? I’m focused on fighting for important issues like diversifying our economy, creating new jobs, developing our infrastructure, protecting our borders, supporting West Virginia’s energy industries like coal, oil, and natural gas, and always serving my constituents. Finally, your father, Samuel Devine, served in the House from 1959 to 1981. How has his political service shaped your political career? I learned my passion for public service from my father. He committed his life to making our country a better place than it was before he was here. This is what inspired me to get involved in organizations within my local community, run for office at the state level, and ultimately run for Congress.
RIPON FORUM February 2019
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