During our five years of work at America’s New Majority Project, we have looked for issues and policies that unify the American people.
Our goal is to find a consensus that would lead to a platform of the American people around which a vast majority of Americans — Republicans, Independents and Democrats — could rally.
Sen. Tim Scott recently released a commercial that is a model for the kind of unifying positive policies and positions which could grow into a Ronald Reagan-sized majority (Reagan won 58.8% of the popular vote and the electoral votes of 49 states in 1984).
The South Carolina Senator simply and directly said:
“If you’re able-bodied, you work.
“If you take out a loan, you pay it back.
“And if you commit a violent crime, you go to jail.
“And if you’re a man, you should play sports against men.
“America needs more victors and less victims.”
I knew from our many polls and focus groups that each of these positions would be popular in themselves.
But I was curious how the American people would react when you put all of them together into one proposition.
We asked about Scott’s proposition. When presented with all five principles in one statement, the American people validated everything we have learned at America’s New Majority Project.
Forty-six percent strongly agreed with Scott’s statement, compared to 7% who strongly disagreed. This is an almost 7:1 advantage. There were another 25% who somewhat agreed compared to 14% who somewhat disagreed.
The combined scores were 71% agree versus 21% disagree (with 7% unsure). This means that Scott has developed a proposal with a 3.5:1 advantage over those who oppose him.
I learned from years working with candidate and then-President Reagan that when you can get above a 70% to 20% break on an issue, you should cheerfully stick with it — and repeat it continuously. Your opponent will have to agree with you and stand in your shadow or disagree and side with a tiny minority (think of Vice President Walter Mondale promising to raise taxes in his disastrous 1984 campaign as an example).
Republicans have an opportunity to take Scott’s proposition and turn it into a clear definition of why most Americans will favor a common-sense future over an unpopular, dysfunctional National Democratic Party vision.
Approval for Scott’s message extended across ethnic lines with 73% of whites, 68% of blacks and 62% of Hispanics agreeing.
The five proposals also drew support across party lines with 85% of Republicans, 66% of independents and 59% of Democrats approving.
This is clearly an American proposition — not a Republican proposition. It is a unifying proposal — not a divisive one. So, it may be hard for many Republican consultants to figure out how to communicate these positive values in a compelling way. They are used to being divisive and negative, so it may feel strange to be happily positive and unifying (the essence of Reagan’s campaigns and larger success).
For those who worry about young Americans, these ideas seem to have universal appeal. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, the split was 69% to 27% (31% strongly approve to 14% who strongly disapprove).
Support strengthens with each succeeding age group, with 82% of the 65 and older crowd approving and only 15% disapproving.
Donald Trump supporters agree 86% to 12%. Even Bernie Sanders supporters agree with the Scott proposal 54% to 38%. Traditional, non-Trump Republicans are slightly stronger than Trump supporters at 88% to 10%. Even those with post-graduate degrees support the message 69% to 25%.
Scott hit a home run. This positive message unifies the overwhelming majority of Americans. The news media and Scott’s competitors should take note.
This was a historic achievement. Scott deserves a lot of credit for his determination to remain positive, unifying and forward-looking.