Blog Post

Creatives in the Office: Personality and the Environmental Effects of Workspace

WINS’ own Rose Needle was published recently in the peer-reviewed Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising.

Rose’s research has major implications for corporations and organizations as they look to reimagine the workplace in a post -COVID world.

Here’s the abstract:

Open-office plans have become the dominant mode for creative workplaces, designed to encourage collaboration. Little scholarly research assesses the validity of that trend, the conventional wisdom behind it, or the impact of open environments on creativity, employee productivity, satisfaction, or success. This exploratory study surveys 143 people working in advertising and the creative industries, assessing perceptions of productivity and satisfaction with work environment along with personality type. A majority of respondents yearned for solitude to complete certain tasks. Findings suggest that open-office environments may indeed undermine creative productivity, not just among introverts, but others as well.

And the research:

Blog Post Politics

WINS 2020 Roundtable Part 8 – Mailbag!

This discussion is one segment of a multi-part series centered around the 2020 Presidential Election.

Interviews have been transcribed from a digital roundtable that took place on 11/19 that included panelists, Democratic pollsters, and WINS team members Bernard Whitman and Matt McDermott.  The roundtable was moderated by Scott Kotchko.

SCOTT:  As part of the roundtable, we’ve asked friends, colleagues, co-workers, and clients to submit questions for you gentlemen.  We promised anonymity.  Here they are…

MAILBAG Q1:  How will Trump continue to impact the country and the Republican Party, even after he’s out of office?  Will he ever go away?

BERNARD:  Upon his death, he will go away. Or when his insanity just boils over. But look, realistically, he’s going to start a media empire and try to kill Fox News and have direct conversations with his millions and millions of legions of sycophantic fans.

MATT:  The Republicans wanted the party of Trump. They’ve got the party of Trump.

MAILBAG Q2:  If the Democrats win the run-offs in Georgia, should Biden still put any Republicans in his cabinet?


MATT:  No.

MAILBAG Q3:  What does the Democratic party’s refusal to support and elevate the progressive wing mean for the future of the party?

BERNARD: I disagree with the assumption bias in this question!

MATT:   I’m firmly of the belief that these last few election cycles have proven that we are a left of center country and should have a government that reflects it.

Hopefully, that answers the question.

MAILBAG Q4:  What can we plan to expect if Trump totally refuses to participate in the transition? And what can Biden do to restore faith in democratic process, if Trump keeps claiming he won?

BERNARD:  Well, I think Trump has already shown that he’s not participating in the transition process. The transition is going ahead anyhow. And if he keeps on claiming he won, he’ll be in for a rude awakening about 12:01 on January 20th of next year.

MATT:   Yes, Joe Biden will be the President. And he will be inaugurated on the 20th. And he will enter into the White House shortly thereafter. I think I’ll sort of answer with a slightly different perspective, which is, the challenge for Republicans is that by sowing this much cynicism into the process, they really do challenge themselves in turning out these voters that they need.

Not only in the Georgia election coming up, but in elections moving forward.

If the Republican message is that the process isn’t balanced and fair, their voters aren’t going to participate in that process, and they need them to.

MAILBAG Q5:  What do you make of these career Republicans—not career politicians, but Republican stalwarts, the Mitch McConnell’s of the world, Lindsey Graham’s of the world, backing Donald Trump instead of supporting our country’s democratic decision to elect Joe Biden?

What does that say about the Republican Party?

BERNARD:   Look, I think it’s disgusting. And it’s not limited to Lindsey Graham or the people that you mentioned.

It’s literally almost to a person, Republicans over the last four years have been afraid to get even a degree outside of Trump’s shadow.

It is a disgusting abrogation of the responsibility to their constituents, to the country and to democracy.

And I hope to god they pay a price. I worry that they won’t, but their blind allegiance to someone who essentially is a fascist, megalomaniac who has driven this country into the ground and divided us like nothing else, is not to be excused, not to be believed.

And I still, to this day, am flabbergasted by it.

MATT:   My half glass full take on this is that there is one benefit of the Trump years in that it has brought what was long in the shadows into the light.

The Republican Party has always been a party of deceit, corruption, and disinformation. This is is the party that ran the Willie Horton ads 30 years ago. The party that spent the entirety of the Obama administration saying he wasn’t born in America. This is what the Republican Party is folks! I’m glad you’re all arriving at this show now in the year 2020!

And look, they are able to ring a minority of voters in this country into a mere majority given the systems that exist.

And I hope we as Democrats are able to rationalize to the actual majority, that this is not who we are as a country and we deserve better.

Blog Post Politics

WINS 2020 Election Roundtable Part 7 – Does Scott Owe Hillary Clinton An Apology?

This discussion is one segment of a multi-part series centered around the 2020 Presidential Election.

Interviews have been transcribed from a digital roundtable that took place on 11/19 that included panelists, Democratic pollsters, and WINS team members Bernard Whitman and Matt McDermott.  The roundtable was moderated by Scott Kotchko.

SCOTT:  Last question.  I have repeatedly called Hillary Clinton one of the worst presidential candidates to run for office in my lifetime, who ran one of the worst, most clueless and tone-deaf campaigns that I can recall.

Joe Biden won the presidency by doing just a little bit better than one of the worst candidates in history (according to me).

Do I owe Hillary Clinton an apology?

MATT:  Yes.


And by the way, I loved Hillary Clinton.

I still have great fondness for Hillary Clinton. I think she would’ve made an amazing President, but she was a godawful candidate.

MATT:   I will comfortably say that I think we will look back at these eight years and find that Joe Biden, for all intents and purposes, ran the exact same campaign of “stronger together” that Hillary Clinton did. The difference is he ran it against an incumbent.

BERNARD:  No, the difference is that he’s Joe Biden and she’s Hillary Clinton.

Joe Biden can be real with people and Hillary Clinton, unfortunately, could not.

MATT:   I could not disagree more. And we will leave it at that.

(Ed. Note:  At time of publication, Scott has not apologized to Hillary Clinton)


Continue to Part 8:  Matt & Bernard Respond To Reader Questions In Our Mailbag

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WINS 2020 Election Roundtable Part 6 – What Went Wrong With Political Polling In 2020, And How Can It Be Fixed?

This discussion is one segment of a multi-part series centered around the 2020 Presidential Election.

Interviews have been transcribed from a digital roundtable that took place on 11/19 that included panelists, Democratic pollsters, and WINS team members Bernard Whitman and Matt McDermott.  The roundtable was moderated by Scott Kotchko.

SCOTT:  2020 was a bad year for campaign polling.  Republican and Democratic campaign pollsters missed the mark on understanding what they thought voters were going to do, and how they were going to vote.  Media pollsters even more so.

And so it was a bad year for the pundit prognosticators like Nate Silver.

But, interestingly, it was also a terrible year for the poli-sci prognosticators who don’t use polling in their models, like Rachael Bitecofer. (Note: The link to Prof. Bitecofer’s final Senate forecast has been removed from the Niskanen Center’s website ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

So what happened with political polling this year?  Is it fixable? What should people know or understand about it?

MATT:   I am increasingly over time convinced that the polling error that exists and there certainly is an error, is solely correlated to Donald Trump’s name on the ballot.

If you look sort of over the last decade of polling, there is not a systematic bias against polling against Republicans.  It just doesn’t exist. It does exist in two election environments, 2016 and 2020. And the only thing similar between those two election cycles is Donald Trump was on the ballot. If you actually look at polling in the 2018 mid-term, democrats actually were under polled in that election. And the bias in that mid-term was actually favored democrats, not republicans.

And so, the two cycles we have, where there was a systematic issue, were the two elections Donald Trump was on the ballot. The question then becomes why is that? And you can see it, particularly this year, but there were shades of this in 2016 as well. There is no doubt, even if he’s a loser, that Donald Trump can turn out disaffiliated, disaffected, non-college, white girl voters in a way that no candidate has been able to do in the modern era.

You look at going back to one of your earlier points Scott, which is true. Is that I think Democrats have always said, turn out for the sake of turnout is good for the party. That merely by turning people out, Democrats can win the tide and win the majority of votes. What you saw in this election is, turnout on the margins can help Democrats.

On the flip side, turnout benefits Republicans as well. And Republicans got a huge surge of voters this year, from disaffected white voters who typically don’t vote in elections.

What seems to be happening in polling when trump is on the ballot, is that, that surge of disaffected white girl voters is not picked up in polling and he’s able to pad his margins. I think the question for me though is, does that polling error exist without Donald J. Trump on the ballot? And I think sort of, after this election cycle, we can confidently say that regardless of where this country heads in the next four years, Donald Trump will never be on the ballot again, anywhere in this country.

I hate to sort of be tongue in cheek about it, but the solution is just…well… Donald Trump doesn’t run again in election , right?

If that is the fundamental problem, which it increasingly seems like it is, then either it gets fixed by Donald Trump not running again or republicans figure out how to repeat the same thing Trump has been able to do.

And I’m firmly of the belief that they’re going to fail in doing that.

BERNARD:  I do think there is something anomalous about Donald Trump. Look, the Republicans in the 2016 primary couldn’t figure him out. We couldn’t figure him out in the 2016. We barely could figure him out in 2020. Thank god we did. I think he does bring some anomalies to the equation and they get particularly hard to identify who is actually going to show up to the polls.

To get a little bit more into the weeds about it, I do think it’s more of a trump issue than we might even imagine. So where did pollsters mess up? How do we of fail to adjust for Trump being on the ballot?

In general I think pollsters probably weighted data too much this cycle. Weighting is the process of adjusting a sample to ensure you have enough of different groups of people.

I think the turnout models also didn’t really sort of figure out who is actually going to turn out. I think we relied too much on past as prologue. We relied too much on past voter history to predict who’s going to vote this time, which means when we had a 14% increase in turnout or whatever it was, with so many people mailing in the ballots, we sort of didn’t figure out who was actually going to turn out. We relied too much on past history.

And we relied too much on saying, we didn’t have enough of these people in this poll. And the last time, it was – we had more educated people or more uneducated people or whatever it was. I think we adjusted, we fiddled, we played with the data too much. We didn’t let it just fall as it is, au natural, which is what Ann Seltzer did in Iowa, although Iowa is not a diverse state and therefore easier to poll.

But I think it’s a combination of Trump being anomalous, too much emphasis on past turnout, models to predict future turnout of this election, and then too much reliance on waiting all combined. In some states, we got almost exactly right. The national polls were actually correct with Hilary Clinton. They were wildly off in 2020, and in some states, pollsters were wrong.

SCOTT:  From my perspective I would say that the problems with political polling in 2020 come down to a few interrelated things.

Look the single biggest issue and dirty secret in the political polling world is that non-response bias in phone polling has been a problem for 30 years and is now getting worse.

This refers to the fact that (thanks to telemarketers starting in the 1980s) many of us don’t want to answer a call from a random number and take 20 minutes to chat with a stranger.  And so the people who do, don’t necessarily look like the people who vote in elections.

You can fix this, to some extent, as Bernard said, by weighting.  But in other regards you didn’t really need to fix it, because there wasn’t really a partisan split in not wanting to be bothered with random phone calls.

That seems to have changed in the COVID-19 and Trump era.  My theory is that response rates for Democrats, particularly professional-class suburban Democrats who were more likely to be able to work from home during the pandemic, and more likely to comply with stay at home orders went up this cycle.

On the flip-side, I would venture to guess that response-rates to polling among Republicans, particularly white men, decreased.  And I’d guess that some smart academics in the next few months will study why that happened and point to growing lack of institutional faith in government, politics, and shared civic duty during the Trump Era.

And just to be clear, this is totally different than the “Shy Trump Voter” theory which claimed that there were lots of Trump supporters who were not comfortable admitting it to other people outside of the voting booth.  That theory was always total bullshit, and the Trump boat parades and car caravans of 2020 prove it.  What I’m talking about here is that the woman with 10 Biden/Harris signs on her lawn was more than happy to talk to a pollster, while the guy with 10 MAGA signs on his lawn hung up.

The last piece of the puzzle, in my conjecture, is that I think pollsters (and the media and most of America) fell into this demographic trap of thinking about voters, especially white men, along the lines of working-class vs. college-educated.  That’s always been a false dichotomy, and to better understand this spectrum I’d suggest reading Patrick Wyman’s excellent piece American Gentry.

Anyway, I’d guess many pollsters over-weighted Trump support among working-class white men to correct for 2016 mistakes, and undercounted Trump support among more affluent and/or college educated white men.

MATT:   Yes.  On the topic of lack of institutional faith and civic duty, there is no amount of waiting, modeling, tweaking around the edges that can be done if fundamentally there’s a cohort of people in this country who, because of the discord and distrust that have been sowed into our institutions are refusing to participate in a poll, right? That is a very different problem, and I tend to think that was a bit part of the problem in political polling in 2020.

SCOTT:  The last thing I’d like to say on this subject, because I get a lot of questions about this from friends, family, clients.  What people need to understand about political polling is that despite what happened this year, polling over the last 2 decades has been far, far more accurate than it was for the 50 years prior in predicting outcomes of local, state, and presidential elections.

Even if the quality and accuracy varies, I think it is good for the country and our democracy that we have more polling, more publicly available polling, and more people like Nate Silver and Nate Cohn who aggregate polling as journalism.  Because what national political media coverage looks like otherwise is pretty atrocious.

It may not always be perfect, but without polling insights, all we have are the Chris Cillizzas or Salena Zitos of the world, and “journalists” who go to a diner in the Milwaukee suburbs, talk to three people (two of whom are Republican operatives) and then file a story on what Swing voters in America are thinking.

Political polling data may not always be 100% accurate, but at least it brings some semblance of science and objectives facts into the equation.

BERNARD:  And the other thing I’d add is that we sort of, a lot of people forget, when we say the margin of error, people don’t hear that. They don’t realize the margin of error, even on a large poll, with a margin of error, might be like 2.5-3%. It’s plus or minus.

It means the result could be up to six points off of what we’re actually saying. People just sort of ignore that, they forget it. And then they go, why were you guys off? It said X and it was actually X plus or minus three or four.

Well, sorry folks, that’s called margin of error.

MATT:   I’ve always argued that the issue itself is not with polling, but in how it’s consumed.

At the end of the day, all three of us are well aware of this. There are a number of different reasons you do polling. There are a number of different things you get out of it. And by and large, the way in which polling is consumed today through a political lens, nationally, is topline numbers.

Who’s up? Who’s down? What does the ballot look like?

The reality is polling actually provides you a lot more information. It provides information about what issues people care about.

What are people prioritizing in their lives? Why are people making decisions in the household that they do?

All of that is vastly, in my opinion at least, vastly more important in terms of what you’re getting out of polling. And if all we’re doing is looking at, within a margin of a point or two, what is a congressional race or a senate race or presidential race looks like, you’re sort of missing the forest for the trees.


Continue to Part 7: Does Scott Owe Hillary Clinton An Apology?

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WINS 2020 Election Roundtable Part 5 – Should Nancy Pelosi Be Speaker? And The House Dems’ Diversity Problems

This discussion is one segment of a multi-part series centered around the 2020 Presidential Election.

Interviews have been transcribed from a digital roundtable that took place on 11/19 that included panelists, Democratic pollsters, and WINS team members Bernard Whitman and Matt McDermott.  The roundtable was moderated by Scott Kotchko.

SCOTT:  Let’s pivot to the House.  Should Nancy Pelosi remain Speaker? 

And, if so, what are the Democrats going to do about their leadership age gap?  The average age of Democratic congressional leadership is 77.  On the Republican side it is 53.  That sends an absolutely terrible message to any young person who wants to become involved in politics, it sends a terrible message to people who believe in meritocracy and it sends a terrible message about the lack of diversity in a party that prides itself as being diverse.

MATT:   It is a challenge that is without a solution at the moment, as it appears speaker Pelosi has already made it clear that she intends to be Speaker next term and has the votes to do it. It is a problem in the party that I can’t quite understand why we’re incapable of understanding the fact that our leadership in Congress in particular, does not reflect – not only just the age diversity of the party, but the actual diversity of this party.

I happen to believe that Nancy Pelosi will go down in history as one of the most effective speakers of the house in American history. But it frankly perplexes me why she’s interested in remaining Speaker in this environment, given that successful legislative agenda that she’s been able to pass for the last decade and a half.

I frankly don’t know why she wants to continue doing this and not give an opening to others that are trying to move up party leadership. It is frustrating. And it is a problem that needs to be addressed.

BERNARD:  Here’s my take. Will she be speaker?

Yes. Should be speaker? Yes.

But I think this is it. I think this is the transition period, it has to be the transition period.

I think Hakeem Jeffries should 100% be our next speaker after this. I think we’re going to use the ’21 – ’22 period as the transition. It’s unfortunate that the transition’s not happening now. But I think let Nancy Pelosi have her victory lap. She actually deserves it. She’s done an incredible job as Speaker. She brought us here.

But did we get a bigger majority? No. Have we retained the majority? Yes. And I think we have to spend the next two years really making fundamental changes so that new generations of leadership emerge.

And like I said, I think Jeffries would be an amazing Speaker. I think David Cicilline would’ve been great as Assistant Speaker because it would be an extraordinary leap forward to have the first openly gay person in that position. But the idea that we’ve got three near octogenarians, all white, in the leadership role, plus Jim Clyburn who is also an octogenarian – it has to be a transition time.

And by the way, I think we should term-limit the leadership positions.


Continue to Part 6: What Went Wrong With Political Polling In 2020, And How Can It Be Fixed?

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WINS 2020 Election Roundtable Part 4 – Partisan Media Eco-Systems & Disinformation As A Threat To Democracy

This discussion is one segment of a multi-part series centered around the 2020 Presidential Election.

Interviews have been transcribed from a digital roundtable that took place on 11/19 that included panelists, Democratic pollsters, and WINS team members Bernard Whitman and Matt McDermott.  The roundtable was moderated by Scott Kotchko.

SCOTT:  A lot of times in politics we talk about the candidates, about the message.  But one thing that seems increasingly important and is asymmetrical across parties is the actual mechanisms we have to deliver our candidates, our messages, and our narratives to voters.  And this worries me, because when you look at what Fox News has become, when you look at the network of Brietbart-style right-wing outlets that can launder partisan misinformation into the Fox News ecosystem and therefore the media writ-large, and then mix in GOP social, digital communities, and things like QAnon – you literally have an entire closed eco system that isn’t just about getting a message out a week before the election, or asking for fundraising dollars, but fundamentally about indoctrinating wide swaths of the American population.

Meanwhile Democrats have, what?  Digital fundraising, Pod Save America and a bunch of centrist major newspapers that are only readable behind a paywall?

There is a question in here, I promise.  How big of a concern is this?  And what should Democrats do about it?  Rail against it?  Or fight fire with fire?

MATT:   These are issues not just facing the Democratic Party, but the future of our democracy.  I call them The Two Fs – Fox and Facebook.  If Democrats don’t get serious about substantial efforts to undermine the effectiveness of these two platforms in propagating disinformation, our democracy is really on the brink of ruin.

I don’t mean that metaphorically.  It is an honest, objective, candid assessment of the situation we are in right now, where millions of Americans in this country get false, fake, libelous, lying information just served right up to them through Fox News which has tens of millions of viewers across the country, and Facebook, which we’re all on and is completely unregulated.

So I think the incoming Biden Administration is going to have to look long and hard at figuring out a system for regulation of these social media companies.  There are a few members of Congress like David Cicilline who have been active in trying to figure out what a regulatory system could look like in this space.

On the Fox News question…Democrats have tried for years to build some counterbalance to Fox and the megaphone it provides the Republican Party.  And I don’t believe its feasible.  You’d need billions of dollars to make it happen, and I don’t believe there’s an appetite on the left, its just now how we consume information.  So the only alternative is to delegitimize Fox as a news organization.  The Biden Administration should bar them from the press room.  They are not a news network, and we should stop pretending they are.

BERNARD:  The Democrats also need to learn how to play long games.  We tend to think about the next election, and not as much about building for the long-term.

We didn’t counter the decades-long GOP plans to control state legislatures (and therefore voting and redistricting), nor the judiciary.  We aren’t really thinking long-term about the fight against misinformation.

Democrats need to think not about 12-18 month efforts, but three, five, ten years down the road when it comes to countering Fox and disinformation, and establish more effective communications eco-systems of our own.

There will be opportunities here, by the way.  As Donald Trump exists the presidency, he’s likely to seek to destroy Fox News and establish his own smaller, more rabid, more hyper-partisan news network.  And this could fracture the right-wing news apparatus.

SCOTT:  Part of me worries about digital strategy and organizing on the Democratic side.  It ends up being so transactional, so campaign-based, so tech-focused rather than voter-focused.  We scale it up every cycle, tear it down the day after the election, and pretend that resulting mailing lists, and next-cycle snake oil are worth their weight in gold.

Meanwhile, here’s QAnon.  It’s a conspiracy theory!  But it really appeals to a lot of people with serious doubts about the direction of the country and their role in a changing America.  And it tells you, hey don’t worry – there’s a bunch of stuff going on behind the scenes, its gonna be OK but we need your help. You have a role!  It’s total bullshit, but it’s a damn compelling story and its exposing you to a worldview that canonizes Donald Trump and the Republicans.

My point is that things like QAnon are incredibly effective propaganda – and propaganda has been part of politics for centuries.

MATT:   What the right is doing is propaganda.  The conspiracy theories are propaganda.  They’re using disinformation to sow discord, distrust, and build an appetite for lunatic conspiracy theories.

Democrats should absolutely NOT seek to “copy and paste” this approach.

The lesson we should learn, though, is to have an always-on strategy.

It’s what Trump did, in my opinion smartly, immediately after winning the 2016 election.  They literally announced their reelection campaign the next day.

SCOTT:   They got made fun of for it, but it was brilliant. Or maybe obvious.  Regardless…

MATT:   That always-on is something Democrats need to adopt. It is unacceptable that we don’t mobilize or engage voters outside of election cycles.

It’s unacceptable, to me at least, right now, that there are no efforts underway in the Democratic Party to mobilize a group of grassroots people who are obviously infuriated by the fact that Donald Trump is reporting to have won this election when he didn’t. Or threatening martial law to stay in power.

There’s no effort underway to mobilize those people in some sort of constructive way – and that’s political malpractice.  We need an always-on strategy to harness the power of our people to make meaningful change.


Continue to Part 5:  Should Nancy Pelosi Be Speaker?  And The House Dems’ Diversity Problems

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WINS 2020 Election Roundtable Part 3 – Predictions For A Joe Biden Presidency

This discussion is one segment of a multi-part series centered around the 2020 Presidential Election.

Interviews have been transcribed from a digital roundtable that took place on 11/19 that included panelists, Democratic pollsters, and WINS team members Bernard Whitman and Matt McDermott.  The roundtable was moderated by Scott Kotchko.

SCOTT:  Joe Biden won the election.  He will be the next President of the United States of America.  And there’s a high likelihood that that the Senate will remain in Republican control which means our government won’t really function as intended.  The pandemic is raging, and is going to get worse than it has ever been in this country before it gets better.  The outgoing administration stopped actually doing any work months ago, and are preparing to salt the earth to make the Biden’s team transition as difficult as possible.

On the flip-side, Joe Biden is likely to preside over a mass-vaccination program that will defeat the coronavirus – something Donald Trump failed at.  As the economy gets back on track its possible that Joe Biden may oversee the biggest GDP increase in the last 100 years.

Those are a lot of rollercoasters.  Given all of this, what are your best guesses for what a Biden presidency looks like and accomplishes? 

MATT:   The incoming Biden administration will benefit because the Trump administration, without question, has expanded the powers of the presidency in a way that no previous President ever has.

In that regard, and on certain issues it’s frankly irrelevant who controls Congress, because the Biden Administration, I think, has pretty broad leniency in what they can do from an executive action point of view.  Especially on things like immigration, climate change, student loan reform.  And they seem rather willing to exercise that executive power to get a lot of things done.

And, by the way, it is exactly what they should do given what we’ve lived through the past four years and the need to use the powers of the federal government to lift this country out of crisis.

The last piece of this is that if Joe Biden doesn’t utilize executive powers to help fix the country, and Democrats don’t control both branches of Congress, what exactly are we going to run on in 2022?  You’d like to be running on the fact that Joe Biden, the Democratic President, just lifted the country out of the worst health and economic crisis in modern American history – quite literally saving American lives in the process.

BERNARD:   I agree with all of that.  But I’m also an eternal optimist, and consider myself to be more center-left than left.  But I actually do believe there could be maybe possibly some small hope, wish, prayer, that a return to some semblance of bipartisanship, of centricity, of moderation, actually can get stuff done in Washington.

It’s not that I want a victory for the middle. I want a victory for actually getting stuff done.

I think that with a slim majority in the House and possibly a slim majority in the senate, we’ll be able to identify a handful of senators like Ben Sasse, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and Mitt Romney and possibly others, to actually get stuff done, in healthcare, and immigration, climate change, and infrastructure.

And I think, hopefully, Biden can actually leverage his years in the senate, his experience there in doing so.

The tough thing, of course, , is the incumbent party typically loses seats in the mid-terms. And Democrats really can’t afford to lose any more.  But with the potential of making really serious and fundamental gains in the economy and other things, as Scott & Matt have mentioned, maybe Democrats can buck that trend in 2022.

SCOTT:  Injecting my own perspective here, I’m going to split the difference between Matt and Bernard.  I think Joe Biden will use unilateral executive power to do stuff that is unquestionably centrist and ends up being inherently compromised.

BERNARD:  Is that a fear?

SCOTT:  No, I think it just is.  I think it’s reality.  You talk about the expansion of the unilateral executive under Donald Trump, but I think one of the things we’re going to see if and when Biden tries to use that power, is that it’ll be challenged in the court system, which is owned by the GOP.

BERNARD:  The court system is not a good place for Democrats.

SCOTT:  It isn’t.  But at the same time, it is a very slow and deliberate process to challenge executive power through the courts, as we learned during the Trump administration.  So a lot of the things that will be challenged will probably take years to actually play out.  So maybe that gets us through the midterms – assuming the executive actions Biden takes are substantial enough to make a difference in people’s lives.


Continue to Part 4: Partisan Media Eco-Systems & Disinformation As A Threat To Democracy

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WINS 2020 Election Roundtable Part 2- Lessons Learned From 2020. “We Got The One Thing We Wanted, And Nothing More.”

This discussion is one segment of a multi-part series centered around the 2020 Presidential Election.

Interviews have been transcribed from a digital roundtable that took place on 11/19 that included panelists, Democratic pollsters, and WINS team members Bernard Whitman and Matt McDermott.  The roundtable was moderated by Scott Kotchko.

SCOTT:  Pretty much the entirety of the Democrats’ political calculus over the past 4 years has been about defeating Donald Trump.  It became the singular focus of the party.

Everything else was pushed off to the side, things like a national vision for the party, a lot of policy, state and local issues.  So in a weird way, the Democrats this year got exactly what they asked for and not a single thing more.  I think there’s probably a lesson for the future of the party in there somewhere.

BERNARD:  Yeah, the Democratic Party sought to nationalize all the races, including House, Senate and state legislature races to be a referendum on Donald Trump, his handling of COVID, and therefore (according to them) his handling of the economy.

And guess what?  It didn’t work. Democrats didn’t knock off a single Republican incumbent in the House, and they failed to win the Senate.

One reason for this is a trend that we’ve seen in our polling both in and outside of politics and that is a cultural trend towards localization that has been greatly accelerated as a result of COVID.

Nationalization instead of state and local issues, even in the Senate races, doesn’t work.  We’ve got to get much more community based.  Democrats have to understand that we’ve got to bring things back down to the local level and build candidacies and messages and campaigns that take account of what’s happening much more locally and not just rest on a nationalized strategy.

MATT:   The Democratic Party needs to accept the reality that while ticket-splitting doesn’t exist at the level it used to in American politics.  Years ago there were plenty of voters who voted Ronald Reagan at the top of the ticket, and voted Democrat down ballot.  Ticket-splitting doesn’t exist in great numbers anymore.  And to the extent it does, it is because a certain type of voter likes divided government.

Ticket-splitters make their decision based on who they expect to win the election. Democrats were actually advantaged pretty significantly, for most of this election cycle, in the fact that most voters thought Donald Trump was going to win reelection. And that underdog status for Democrats, actually works well.

It means that Joe Biden can run the race he’s going to run nationally, and down ballot Democrats can say to swing voters, vote for me as a check on Donald Trump.

Well, the problem is, two weeks before the election, voters started seeing the same polling that we all saw, showing Joe Biden up nationally, pretty substantially.

Before that you had 60% of voters thinking Donald Trump was going to win reelection. In the final week of the race, 60% of voters thought Joe Biden was going to win the election.

And so, those voters that are ticket splitters, go into the voting booth thinking, Joe Biden’s probably going to win this election, I should vote for Republicans down ballot as a check on him.

In 2016, the opposite happened. Literally, every one of us thought Hillary Clinton was going to win that election. And so, Republicans did well down ballot, because a number of swing voters said, we need a Republican check in Congress on Hillary Clinton.

The lesson is that in a polarized environment like this, getting a major, landslide win for either party is just incredibly challenging.

SCOTT:  OK, but ticket-splitting is another word for Swing voters.  Joe Biden won the election, but Democrats didn’t win the Senate because a bunch of people, many of them Republicans, voted for Biden but not Democratic Senate candidates.  And this is important because one of the narratives of the last few years has been that winning is all about getting out your base.

Well, this year there was massive turnout on both sides, and Joe Biden is President Elect because a bunch of people who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 voted for Joe Biden this time round.  Swing voters, ticket-splitters, may not represent a giant swath of the electorate – but they’re literally the ones who decide the election!

MATT:   Yes, absolutely.  The question though is who are these voters that voted for Joe Biden and voted for Republicans down ballot? And there’s been some research that’s been put out, trying to better understand those voters. They are voters who are affluent, who are white, who are largely religious voters, who live in the suburbs who pulled the lever for Joe Biden, not because they’re in love with the Democratic Party. They voted for Joe Biden because Donald Trump is the antithesis to everything they believe about the Republican Party. And so, you’re in this environment where there’s a referendum on such a polarizing President. We see the outcome.

Look, it is hard to get a voter who’s never supported an opposition party before to not only support that presidential candidate, as an opposition candidate, but support the entire ticket down the ballot!

SCOTT:  Obama in 2008 had massive coattails.  Hope and change, anyone with a D-next to their name whether they were running for President, Congress, or local dog catcher seemed to win their election that year.

Looking at Biden in that same way, he had no coattails.

If you believe that Presidential candidate matters most (and there’s a lot of research that shows this is the top predictor of down  ballot voting), you could argue that having Joe Biden at the top of the ticket hurt the party down ballot.  How should we think about this?

BERNARD:  Not to disparage Joe Biden, but he was barely on the ballot.

This was an up or down vote on Trump. And the question was, is Joe Biden acceptable enough? Do I trust Joe Biden? Do I like Joe Biden? Can I identify with Joe Biden? Could I imagine sort of sitting down and having a beer with Joe Biden? And enough swing voters who had voted for Donald Trump before or sat it out, said “You know what? OK. I will.

But there were no coattails at all. And the problem is, without coattails, the Democrats who are running facing Republican incumbents or open seats had really nothing to run on, because it was either Trump or no Trump.

And people expressed their displeasure with Trump in voting for Joe Biden. And then they were like, I know my incumbent representative or Senator, I’m just going to go ahead and vote to reelect her or him.

There was nothing else there. There was no real message. I’m not saying that we cannot have a coordinated Democratic Party message. But it has to be localized and it has to be manifested, it hast to be contextualized. And it has to be expressed in ways that make sense at a local level. And we just sort of failed to do that.


Continue to Part 3: Predictions For A Joe Biden Presidency

Blog Post Politics

WINS 2020 Election Roundtable Part 1- How Joe Biden Won, & Who Deserves Credit For His Victory

This discussion is one segment of a multi-part series centered around the 2020 Presidential Election.

Interviews have been transcribed from a digital roundtable that took place on 11/19 that included panelists, Democratic pollsters, and WINS team members Bernard Whitman and Matt McDermott.  The roundtable was moderated by Scott Kotchko.

SCOTT: There were so many different competing stories and narratives with this election. From all of the pre-election prognostications, to the stories on election night, election week (or whatever we’re calling it now), to what’s been made apparent after the dust has settled.

From your perspectives, what really went down here? How did Joe Biden win and who deserves credit for propelling him to victory?

BERNARD: I don’t think there’s one clear answer. I think it’s very complex. Any presidential election is ultimately a referendum on the incumbent. This year was a referendum on Donald Trump, and Joe Biden won. But he just barely won. I think many of us would agree that Donald Trump may in fact be the worst President in American history, but 74 million Americans disagree with that. And Democrats did abysmally in the House, pretty bad in the Senate, and pretty bad in the state legislatures.

How did Joe Biden win? Why did he win when Hillary Clinton lost? And this is no disrespect at all to our progressive friends. No disrespect at all to the Rising American Electorate. No disrespect to the incredible work that was done by numerable constituency groups.

But in a word, Karen and her husband helped win this election, more than anyone else. The suburbs, particularly large metropolitan suburbs around major cities in battleground states made the difference in the election. It wasn’t very much. It didn’t shift by a whole lot. It didn’t need to shift by a whole lot. But if you had to isolate one group that changed, it was white women, college and non-college educated, and also, in some states, certain states, like Georgia, white men, even without college degrees.

MATT:   I agree with Bernard completely, that this election was and was always going to be a referendum on Donald Trump. And it was exactly that. We have lived through four years in which a majority of this country did not support his presidency, did not view his administration favorably. A majority of him did not vote for him in 2016. And the same was true in 2020.

And I think we can pretty safely say at this point, that a majority of this country doesn’t support Trumpism. There are certainly structures in place that allows Donald Trump and his party to have a pretty sizable influence over our country. But at the end of the day, when you look at both the popular vote and the Electoral College results in this election, Republicans do not have a majority in this country.

And Joe Biden, as the opposition candidate, was able to put together a majority a coalition to get to 50% plus one.  That’s how you win elections.

And whether it was  black voters in urban areas across America, white suburban voters who swung against Donald Trump, whether it was maintaining a significant advantage among Latinos, though admittedly, to a smaller percent than Hilary Clinton did a few years ago, Biden put together a majority coalition, which is what you need to do to win the Presidency.

BERNARD:  Yes, the coalition that Joe Biden put together was diverse and included young people, people of color, unmarried women. And it also appealed just enough to white working class, white suburban men and women, some with college degrees, some without college degrees, to flip the votes in key Northern industrial states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and also Pennsylvania. Trump never governed with a coalition, and he never sought a coalition. He just sought to intrench his base and turn them out.

Joe Biden took the coalition approach and expanded it, just a little bit from what Hillary Clinton did in 2016. And I think that’s going to be critically important to his governing and reshaping the Democratic Party. Certainly the Republican Party, post-Trump, has to rebuild. But the Democratic Party, got a down ballot shellacking, the likes of which most of them never even saw coming. And I think we really need to sort of figure that out.


Continue To Part 2: Lessons Learned From 2020, “We Got The One Thing We Wanted, And Nothing More..

Data Entertainment Media Politics

Celebrities Could Possibly Help Biden Win The Election

Celebrity influence in politics is not necessarily a new strategy, but it’s one that could help land Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the White House.

We recently partnered with Nielsen Music/MRC Data and DISQO to survey 1,103 likely voters on the topic. The poll was conducted between October 8th and 13th.

Among the many takeaways from the study, three to highlight include:

1. The Celebrity Effect Helps Biden

12% of likely voters say that entertainers or athletes have influenced their decision on the upcoming election. Among them, 69% are voting for Biden. That translates to north of 8% overall going toward Biden – which is critical in an election that will likely be decided by single-digits.

2. What Response? Trump and GOP Rate Way Behind

There are a myriad of issues facing Americans today. When looking at four key issues — COVID-19, Racial Justice, Climate Change, and Participating in this Year’s Election — Trump and Republicans in Congress rate significantly behind essentially everyone on having “done the right thing” in their response and actions. Joe Biden, Democrats in Congress, Brands, Celebs, Athletes, and even the News Media — all of them rate ahead of Trump and Republicans in Congress on every. single. issue. We’ll see how these feelings translate on Election Day.

3. The Most Influential Celebrities Endorse Biden

Want to win? Get endorsements from Tom Hanks, The Rock, Oprah, LeBron, Robert De Niro, and more.

Biden’s done that. In fact, most celebrities that earned top spots across demographics (except Republicans) have all endorsed Biden.

Fun Fact: of the 29 accounts Joe Biden follows on Twitter, the only entertainer is Lady Gaga — aka the most influential celebrity among LGBTQ Voters.

Check out more takeaways from the poll at Billboard.