Goeas Discusses Results of Ripon Society’s Post-Election Survey & Political Environment Heading into Next Year

By on December 17, 2020 in Featured News, News

WASHINGTON, DC — With Republicans and Democrats in Congress nearing agreement on a COVID-19 relief package, The Ripon Society held a virtual discussion yesterday afternoon about the message of the election and the political environment heading into next year.

The discussion was led by Ed Goeas, who serves as President & CEO of The Tarrance Group and recently conducted a post-election survey of the American electorate on behalf of The Ripon Society.  Among other things, the survey found that an overwhelming majority of the American people would like to see Congress and the President work together to solve the problems facing our country.

Goeas discussed these and other findings in his remarks.

“We asked people a very simple question,” the veteran Republican strategist said of the survey. “Do you want to see Congress and the President work together more closely on solving problems that affect you in your everyday life.  An astounding 95% said yes. In fact, 86% said they strongly wanted to see that. Hopefully, that is something we can build on over the next few months and years so we can create an environment where there is less fighting and more consensus building when it comes to solving the problems important to voters.”

According to Goeas, these problems include fighting COVID-19 and getting the economy back on track, which were identified by voters as the two issues most important to them. In fact, Goeas added, it was the effect of the pandemic, combined with the social unrest that was seen across the country last summer, that served to alter the course of the election this year.

“Last February,” he stated, “the President had a 20-point lead nationally when it came to dealing with the economy.  Even those groups that had a problem with this persona but liked his policies gravitated to what he was doing on the economy.  In part as a result, he had a 20-point lead among the total electorate. By July, that lead was down to only 4-points, and it closed to only a 2-point advantage right before the election. 

“So what happened?  Basically, during that period of the pandemic when we were also seeing protests and social unrest, people felt that they were seeing very little about the President with regard to the economy and a great deal of him with regard to the more divisive aspects of his persona.  Quite frankly, that had a deep effect on the race.”

“If trust in the federal government begins to increase, then I think that will be a sign we’re beginning to dig ourselves out of the hole that we’re in.”

Along similar lines, Goeas noted that The Ripon Society’s post-election poll also found that more than two in five voters indicated that either they and/or a family member have been furloughed, suspended, or lost their jobs since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in March. In addition, while more than a third of voters knew someone whose job was saved by the PPP program, more than 60% felt the federal government has not done enough to support the economy during this time.

“I think the most interesting question we asked,” Goeas said, “was who people trusted more in dealing with the pandemic — the federal, state, or local government?  26% said the federal government, 31% said state government, and 26% said local government.  As we move through the next few months, if trust in the federal government begins to increase, then I think that will be a sign we’re beginning to dig ourselves out of the hole that we’re in.”

Following his opening remarks, Goeas was asked a number of questions, including one about the state of the polling industry in the wake of the election and whether the industry itself needs to be fixed.

“I don’t know that it does need to be fixed,” he stated matter-of-factly.  “I think what needs to change is the way it is used by the news media leading into an election. It was never meant to be a predictor of the actual results. We always have an error factor, even in national surveys, of 3% or 4%. So you look at the national surveys and the average of all the polls that were done out there. Their last combination on RealClearPolitics was that Biden would win by 7.2%. Right now, he’s at about 4.5% in the popular vote in terms of a lead. So, he’s well within that 3%. 

“More importantly, I think it was even more accurate in that having a really good get-out-the-vote effort and the other campaign not having any type of an effective get-out-the-vote effort could mean as much as 2 or 3 points on election day.  And I think that is one of the surprises of this campaign.  There were a lot of people not paying attention to what the Trump campaign was saying about what they had done on voter ID and get-out-the-vote because he bragged about everything. So, you didn’t know what things to really look at. But the reality was that for six months they were out there knocking on doors, talking to voters, identifying voters, and registering new voters. 

“We heard stories right before the election of 100,000 new registrants in Pennsylvania and a little bit over that in Florida, while the Biden campaign, because of their position on the pandemic, never had their people going door to door.  So you had a real voter ID and voter registration campaign compared to one that wasn’t.  I think, quite frankly, the reason the Trump campaign thought they were going to win is that they had done so much better of a job in this regard. And in the end, I think that did account for 2 or 3 points of the margin.  Now, where that affects public polling is when we go in and do a poll, we always buy the latest list to pull our names from.  The public polls are not doing that. They are not going in and making sure those 100,000 new voters are included in their sample.”

Goeas was also asked for his thoughts on the youth vote and how the GOP can begin building support among young voters in the years ahead.

“Part of our problem with young voters is that global warming is extremely important to them,” he stated.  “They see the problem.  They don’t see the solution.  Or, they may see the solution, but they don’t see us acknowledging that global warming even exists. This is an opportunity for us to take a step forward and at least acknowledge that it is a problem, and then start having discussions about what are the best solutions to move towards that.

“I think there are some Republican proposals that we can pursue that actually would get their attention. But we have to start with at least breaking down that barrier we built by so many of our candidates out there just denying it even exists in the first place. If you look at some of the members of the House, including some in the leadership, I think they’re ready to make that acknowledgement — to at least move the ball forward with these young voters.”

Goeas concluded by responding to a question about the shape and direction of the Republican Party moving forward and the prospect of the GOP working with the Biden Administration in the years ahead.

“We have to get back to being the party of ideas and the party of solutions,” Goeas said, “much like we did a number of years back with Haley Barbour driving that as National Committee Chair. If we continue to just play the divisive game that’s being driven right now by the President, I think we’re going to stall in place and not have an opportunity to move forward. I would also argue that the interesting thing about the outcome of this election is that down-ballot from the President it was the progressives that actually helped us do better on the ballot.

“If you look at President-elect Biden, I think he has an understanding that the progressive movement of the Democratic Party is like the Tea Party movement on the Republican side in that they are pushing the extremes. And in pushing the extremes, they give the other side an opportunity to move more to the center and grab more people in the center. The reality is that if you take the centrist Democrats and the centrist Republicans in this country, it is the overwhelming majority. But we’ve never been able to make that connection in recent years. 

“If you look at his appointments, I think Biden is not going to the progressive side. I think he understands that if he gets pulled into the trenches with progressives who just want to go to war with Republicans, then he will not be in a good spot to be an effective President.”

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people. 

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