An All-American Agenda
A few years back, I compiled several polling round-ups that were quite popular among my colleagues who appreciated the pushback on the “center-right country” myth. It felt like an opportune time to update the list. What it shows is striking: core progressive values and policies are the popular mainstream agenda broadly backed by the American people.
Happy July 4th, everyone.
This list will be periodically updated as capacity allows. Note: much of the language is taken straight from the poll and/or press write-up. Last updated November 20, 2015.
Inequality: Two-thirds (66%) of Americans agree that “the money and wealth in this country should be more evenly distributed among more people.” Nearly 6 in 10 say that the government, in fact, should do more to reduce this “gap between the rich and the poor.”
Climate & Clean Energy: The overwhelming majority of Americans want our elected leaders to take action to cut carbon pollution. Nearly 8 in 10 (78%) say the “federal government should limit the amount of greenhouse gases that U.S. businesses put out.” 9 in 10 Americans support stronger protections against water and air pollution, and 9 in 10 also back expanding wind, solar, and other renewable energy technologies.
Civil Rights: Most Americans (81%) agree that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has been good for the country. That said, very few people (only 4%) think all of the goals of Martin Luther King and the 1960s civil rights movement have been achieved, and 8 in 10 of all Americans (80%) say at least some more needs to be done to achieve racial equality.
Fair Pay: 8 in 10 (80%) voters agree that the government has a responsibility to ensure working people are treated fairly by their employers. 8 in 10 (84%) of Americans, including three-fourths (77%) of Republican voters, also support “a new law that would provide women more tools to get fair pay in the workplace.” 8 in 10 also agree that workplace rules that ensure equal pay, sick pay, family leave, and child care are good for our economy (82%) and our nation (81%). Two-thirds of people specifically support requiring all employers to give time off to employees after the birth of a child.
Raising Wages: 6 in 10 (58%) Americans believe that a job needs to at least cover basic living expenses to give a person dignity. 8 in 10 (79%) agree that workers should get overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours a week. Three-fourths of Americans support raising the federal minimum wage to $12.50, and two-thirds support raising it even higher to $15.00.
Public Transit: Nearly 7 in 10 Americans want more federal investments in public transportation systems, which are critically important to economic security. (NYT: “In a large, continuing study of upward mobility based at Harvard, commuting time has emerged as the single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty.”)
Crime: Two-thirds (64%) of Americans believe that more money and effort should go to attacking the social and economic problems that lead to crime, by investing in better education and job training — rather than spending more money and effort deterring crime by improving law enforcement with more prisons, police, and judges.
Money In Politics: Poll after poll shows that the American people want to get big money out of politics. More than 8 in 10 (84%) agree that money has too much influence in American political campaigns today, and most (85%) Americans believe that the system for funding political campaigns needs fundamental changes or to be completely rebuilt. Almost everyone (97%) supports a new law that imposes tough new anti-corruption rules.
Wall Street: 9 in 10 voters (91%) agree that it’s important to regulate financial services and products to make sure they are fair for consumers, and four-fifths (79%) say Wall Street financial companies should be held accountable with tougher rules and enforcement for the practices that caused the financial crisis. The majority of Americans support breaking up big banks like Citigroup (58%) and “too big to fail” financial institutions (55%). More than 6 in 10 also support a financial transaction tax on Wall Street banks, and two-thirds agree we should stop letting Wall Street take tax deductions for penalty fines.
Taxes: Two-thirds (65%) of Americans agree that corporations pay too little in taxes, and 7 in 10 think that wealthy households pay too little. Poll after poll shows that most people support proposals to increase taxes on the wealthy and corporations, such as 8 in 10 supporting tax increases on offshore profits.
LGBT: More than three-fourths (78%) of Americans — including 64% of Republican voters, 73% of non-college voters, 75% of older people, and 70% of observant Christians — support protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people from discrimination in employment.
Marriage Equality: Nearly two-thirds of Americans (63%) support the freedom to marry as a constitutional right for gay couples. 6 in 10 Americans support specifically the Supreme Court ruling that made same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states.
Health Care: Various individual polls (example) show majority support for a single payer or Medicare-For-All health care system. In the meantime, 6 in 10 Americans support the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the health care tax credits for the Affordable Care Act. The individual parts of the health care law are also popular, such as the tax credits for small businesses (80%), Medicaid expansion (70%), and guaranteed access to coverage for life (69%).
Social Security: Most Americans recognize Social Security’s importance in an overall retirement system that is in trouble. Nearly 9 in 10 Americans (89%) say Social Security is more important than ever to ensure that retirees have a dependable income while nearly 9 in 10 also agree that “the retirement system in this country is under stress and needs to be reformed.” One poll of likely 2014 election voters found that 8 in 10 (79%) would support expanding Social Security to increase benefits.
Immigration: Nearly 8 in 10 Americans support creating a real road to citizenship or legal status for immigrants as part of comprehensive immigration reform.
Choice: 8 in 10 Americans (80%) agree that abortion should be legal. In thinking about a woman who has decided to have an abortion, three-fourths would want the experience to be non-judgmental (74%) and supportive (73%) while 7 in 10 would want it to be affordable (69%) and without added burdens (70%). Nearly 9 in 10 (87%) would want the experience to be informed by medically-accurate information.
Student Loans: More than 7 in 10 Americans (likely 2016 voters) support debt-free college at all public universities, and nearly 8 in 10 agree students should get the same low interest rate as big banks. A recent poll also found that large majority of Americans (62%) agree no one should have to borrow to pay tuition at a public college or university.
Universal Pre-K: Making high-quality preschool education available to every child is a hugely popular idea, and 7 in 10 (70%) Americans favor using federal funds to make it happen. 7 in 10 (71%) Americans want to spend now to get later economic gains from early childhood education, and 85% agree that ensuring that children get a strong start in life should be a top national priority.