The Independents and the 2016 Trump voters, i.e. those thinking about a change, had the virtual red carpet rolled out for them at last week’s Democratic National Convention (DNC). But, which campaigns, from the top down, will ultimately win these “Fork in the Road” voters? And, was the DNC’s pitch to this segment on message?
For all the attention the DNC focused on stealing votes from the other side, the party’s leader of the Squad issued an important reminder: don’t forget your base.
At Resonate, we took a deeper look at the moderate voters who are prime for switching parties and, also, the hyper-active online audience making up the Democratic base.
Fork in the Road Voters
John Kasich— 2016 presidential candidate and Trump rival—addressed the audience from a literal fork in the road near his home in battleground Ohio. Standing at the intersection of two gravel roads, the lifelong Republican endorsed Joe Biden over his own party’s leader. Who was Kasich’s massage really meant for?
Kasich’s endorsement is not a major surprise, as the former presidential contender has kept his email list warm and hasn’t been shy about attacking the president. Kasich’s policy-void pitch was made to the “common man and woman”, wrapped in a message of unity and shared purpose. His message was tailored to Republicans and Independents, asking them to change lanes and help pave the way for a Democratic White House. If this switch strategy is effective, campaigns on both sides need to pay attention. Who are these voters who will actually make the switch?
[Kasich speaking during the Democratic National Convention]
Resonate models show roughly 20.4 million registered voters online who self-identify as a Republican or Independent and are planning to vote for Biden
How are these voters different from your average online Republican or Independent?
When it comes to personal values, the Biden-backing Republicans and Independents are 99% more likely to value maintaining a good public image. They’re also 34% more likely to value treating everyone equally and they’re psychologically driven by creativity and having an optimistic outlook. Kasich was close to target, striking a tone of optimism and inclusiveness.
On the issues, this audience is more socially liberal and more supportive of environmental regulation.
Bonus insight: just 41% of this audience voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016
“Squad Voters”- The Online, Anti-Establishment Democrats
The voters Kasich was after were arguably the DNC’s belle of the ball. A shared takeaway was the DNC pandered to moderate, undecided voters shopping for an alternative and, in doing so, didn’t give a lot of love to the party’s base.
The slight didn’t go unnoticed by the Democrat’s Squad leader, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), who is increasingly becoming the face of the party’s venerable grassroots movement. During the convention, AOC endorsed Bernie Sanders over Joe Biden. Days later, she called out the convention for its lack of racial and generational messaging inclusiveness.
Campaign strategies considered – AOC isn’t wrong. Just four short years ago, many voters in the Bernie Sanders camp believed the establishment didn’t give their preferred candidate a fair shot at the nomination at the 2016 DNC, and that the game was rigged for Clinton. The case can be made that Sanders supporters didn’t forget it come November 8, 2016.
The fact is, while making a play for the moderates and persuadables, campaigns can’t stop their courtship of the party base. For Democratic campaigns up and down the ballot, understanding how “Squad Voters” differ from the party establishment, and targeting them with the right message, is critical.
Resonate models have identified an ultra-progressive online audience of roughly 13 million voters who prefer Sanders over Biden. They also strongly support the actions taken by AOC.
How do these “Squad Voters” differ from your average, online self-identified registered Democrat who prefers Biden over Sanders?
Squad voters are almost 50% more likely to value accepting those who are different and treating everyone equally. They are psychologically driven by their professional status and expressing their individuality, a testament to a generation of voters still making their way in the world. In paraphrasing AOC’s post-convention criticism: the DNC failed to message these voters in a meaningful way.
The data shows that Squad Voters are the party’s protesters and they’re much more likely to share their political thoughts online.
Another AOC convention criticism: the DNC failed to leverage social media and digital to truly engage this audience. The convention was run like cable television, missing out on these younger and more left-wing voters. Consider that squad voters are 81% more likely to be politically influenced by social media.
On the issues, this audience is 63% more socially liberal and 54% more likely to want college tuition eliminated. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to breaking down the differences between the Squad Voters and the Party Establishment.
Democrats and Republicans need to be aware, in real-time, the core differences between their establishments and grassroots and then message accordingly.
Audiences Available for Immediate Targeting
Whether your campaign needs to persuade that fork in the road voter to join your side, or shore up support from the grassroots wings, Resonate has done the heavy lifting for you. We update all of our modeled audiences nightly, including any custom ones you ask us to build, analyze and target. Our unique methodology enables campaigns to get a winning message to the deciders of 2020 campaigns, from the top of the ticket down.
Ready to get started? Request a demo or contact us or by phone at 855-855-4320.