Blueprint, a new Democratic strategy group funded by LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, is out with its first polling — a warning that President Biden’s focus on “jobs” is getting him nowhere.
A YouGov survey of 1,063 registered voters, taken from Oct. 26 to Nov. 2 and shared exclusively with Semafor, found that the “top priority” for nearly two-thirds of them — 64% — was lower “prices on goods, services, and gas.” While 43% thought Biden was “most focused” on jobs, 49% thought Donald Trump’s top priority was bringing down “prices on goods, services, and gas.” Just 7% considered “jobs” more important than prices.
In a memo, the group warned that Biden was getting little credit for some of his more centrist policies, which had yet to break through to public consciousness. Few voters were aware that oil and gas production had increased during Biden’s presidency; almost all knew he had attempted to cancel student loan debt. Forty-two percent considered the president to be “much too liberal,” comparable to the 41% who considered Trump to be “much too conservative.”
“We are staring down the very real possibility of Democratic defeat,” said Evan Roth Smith of Slingshot Strategies, who oversaw the Blueprint/YouGov poll. “How can the president be losing independent voters? They’re aware of his most ideological accomplishments, and they don’t think about the rest.”
The polling also underscored the difficulty in getting more economic-focused arguments to stick. Just over half of voters said they had heard that inflation had fallen from 8.3% to 3.2% since 2021, for example. But by a 24-point margin, voters said they did not believe that inflation had fallen that far.
Hoffman’s Investing in U.S. fund has distributed tens of millions of dollars to Democratic Party-aligned groups, working on everything from data-gathering to voter turnout to a tech startup that seeded fake news during the 2017 U.S. Senate election in Alabama. (He apologized for that.) Blueprint, which was formed over the summer and has a 10-person team, has a different goal: Gathering data that can convince Democrats to change their messaging.
Hoffman’s spending has always focused on how to elect Democrats and defeat Trump. The first Blueprint research urges Biden to do something he’s resisted: Highlight accomplishments that anger the left, and get him protested.
He’s doing that right now with his opposition to a ceasefire in Gaza, which is drawing protests around the country. (On Saturday, blocks from the White House, I heard thousands of “Free Palestine” activists chant “no ceasefire, no vote.”)
Blueprint suggests that Biden, having done plenty to emphasize his green technology investments, needs to tell voters what he’s done to open more land to drilling and energy exploration. It’s a violation of a 2020 campaign promise, and while environmentalists are furious about it, Republicans regularly and falsely insist that Biden drove up the price of gas by threatening America’s “energy independence.” That didn’t happen. Blueprint wants him to say so.
“We see a lot of room for Biden to move around on ideology,” said Roth Smith. “Not many voters are worried that Biden is too conservative.” Biden would also benefit, he said, if he advertised his support for a Republican bill that blocked a criminal code update in D.C. “You’d rather have the activist headache than the voter headache.”
Room for Disagreement
Biden’s support with young voters is especially weak in the latest New York Times/Siena poll that’s the current talk of Washington. Some progressives are warning Biden that left-leaning Gen Z voters, even if not enamored with Trump, could be drawn to third parties or not turn out at all if they’re taken for granted or antagonized.