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Democrats Cast Wide Net in Shaping ‘Better Deal’ Platform

DCCC spent seven months working on agenda and talking to stakeholders

New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Luján chairs the DCCC, whose staff have worked to find consensus on an economic message for the Democratic Party. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Luján chairs the DCCC, whose staff have worked to find consensus on an economic message for the Democratic Party. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats are set to unveil their “Better Deal” agenda Monday afternoon. Over the past seven months, the House Democrats’ campaign arm has sought to foster unity around an economically focused agenda through meetings with stakeholders and conversations with voters.

The goal for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was to create a unifying message on the economy and jobs that could also be tailored to an individual congressional district. The party is looking to flip at least 24 seats next year to win back the House.

A source with the DCCC said Chairman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico and senior committee staff have met with more than 50 strategists and leaders over the past seven months to help reach a consensus on an economic message. Those included people from Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, which waged a competitive Democratic primary challenge to Hillary Clinton last year and exposed divides in the party.

The DCCC also met with aligned groups including leaders of labor organizations, EMILY’s List, which backs female Democrats who support abortion rights, End Citizens United, which backs Democrats who support a campaign finance overhaul, and, a liberal veterans group.

Voters have also contributed to this platform, with the committee conducting surveys and collecting input at community events and through organizers on the ground. (In February, the DCCC launched its “March into ’18” initiative that included early investments in state parties so they can hire organizers in competitive House districts.) 

The committee has also gathered information on voters’ opinions on Democratic goals. The firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research conducted focus groups on the economy in Michigan, California, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.

The firm also conducted an online survey of 1,000 Democrats and 1,000 swing voters in 52 congressional districts. The respondents had a generally negative view of the economy, with just 17 percent of Democrats and 22 percent of swing voters saying their own economic situations were improving, according to results shared with Roll Call.

The survey found that certain ideas were supported by both groups of voters, including increasing wages and supporting a living wage, helping improve small businesses, increasing college affordability and access to skills training, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and stopping jobs from leaving the U.S. 

The DCCC’s information helped inform the platform that is set to be unveiled by Democratic leaders Monday in Berryville, Virginia, in the commonwealth’s 10th District, a 2018 target represented by GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock. An aide with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said the Democratic caucus took the lead in developing this message, and the campaign committee would work to convey those themes and contrasts with Republicans throughout next year’s midterm elections.

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