The Two-Thirds Majority Platform
The two-thirds majority platform is a thought experiment, which asks: if a 2020 Presidential candidate had to run on a platform made up exclusively of policies and positions with two-thirds (67%) or more support in major national non-partisan polls since 2016, what could such a platform include? How comprehensive and ambitious could it be? We summarize what we found in an op-ed in Arc Digital.
This website fleshes out additional details of this hypothetical platform, as well as some policies that we explored but found insufficient support for, across the 15 issue categories listed below. These categories are based on the 16 categories identified by a December 2019 Gallup poll as being important to voters, plus three additional categories--COVID-19, voting, and criminal justice (including policing)--added in light of current events. Some related categories were then combined.
We consider this a 'living' site, and we will be adding new polls as we find them. We welcome tips--please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This site is managed by Renae Marshall and Matt Burgess.
Economy, Inequality, Taxes and the Deficit
Over two-thirds of Americans think the economy is a top policy priority (70%, in a 2019 Pew Research poll). However, one of the challenges in compiling a hypothetical platform from individual polls is the contradictions. Voters tend to favor more spending, lower taxes, and also lower deficits--three positions which cannot be simultaneously reconciled. For instance, 95% of respondents in an April 2020 Gallup poll indicated that they did not think their income taxes were too low; 80% in a 2019 Gallup poll reported worrying “a great deal” or “a fair amount” about federal spending and the deficit; yet, specific proposals requiring significant spending, in areas such as education, health care, and infrastructure have over two-thirds support (see below). A 2019 Gallup poll found 82% support for the idea that the government must play a key role in infrastructure and research, due to lack of private incentives.
Are there types of tax increases with two-thirds support? Very few. A recent 2020 Pew poll found 73% support for taxing corporations based on their carbon emissions. Elizabeth Warren’s 2% wealth tax on $50M+ fortunes briefly reached two-thirds in July 2019 (NY Times/SurveyMonkey poll), but has polled slightly lower since. Some “sin” taxes (on lotteries, gambling, marijuana, cigarettes, etc.) are popular--e.g., several recent state polls (GA, IN, KY) showed over two-thirds support for increasing cigarette taxes. Other types of tax increases (e.g., on large corporations, on incomes above $10M per year, and generally raising taxes on upper-income Americans) have simple-majority support, but not two thirds. An earlier (2013) poll, commissioned by the advocacy group Americans for Tax Fairness reported 82% support for closing tax loopholes, but we were not able to find more recent non-partisan sources confirming this.
Other economic policies with over two-thirds support include: increasing the minimum wage to $15/hour (67% in a 2019 Pew Research poll), cutting taxes on middle- and lower-middle-income Americans (78% in a 2017 ABC News/Washington Post poll), abolishing the estate tax (65-76%, depending on how the question was worded, in a 2017 NPR Poll) a constitutional amendment guaranteeing equal rights regardless of sex (70% in a 2019 YouGov poll), and allowing local governments to build their own high-speed networks in regions with poor internet access (70% in a 2017 Pew Research poll). A 2013 Gallup poll (older than 2016) showed over-two-thirds support for several policies explicitly aimed at job creation.
Though we are not able to find recent polls on housing policy from non-partisan sources, a 2019 housing poll from the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that 85% of Americans think ensuring safe, decent, affordable housing should be a “top national priority,” and 80% of Americans think major action should be taken by Congress and the president to make housing affordable for low-income households. A 2019 Cato Institute poll found 59% support building more housing in their neighborhoods.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans (61% in a 2019 Pew poll) believe there is two much inequality in the U.S. (though fewer than have agreed that it was a top priority), and two-thirds of those (which is less than half of the overall population) believe it is the federal government's responsibility to address it. That said, specific measures that would likely have the effect of reducing inequality have two-thirds or near-two-thirds support (e.g., see Education, Healthcare, and other categories).
A January 2020 Pew Research poll found 80% of respondents believe the federal government is responsible for providing high-quality K-12 education for all Americans. Similarly, a January 2019 Politico/ Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll showed almost the same amount of Americans think increasing funding for public schools is an “extremely important” systemic education goal (76%).
The desire for more public education funding may be related to perceptions that education quality is lagging. For instance, 71% of Americans rate the education received at independent private schools as either, “excellent,” or, “good,” while just 44% give public schools the same ratings as found in an August 2017 Gallup poll.
A January 2019 Politico/ Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll found 79% of U.S. adults think cutting student debt is an “extremely important,” education goal, which complements the results of a January 2020 Gallup poll, finding that nearly three-fourths of Americans think higher education is unaffordable.
Additional education policies with just under two-thirds support include: support for free tuition at public colleges (63% in a 2020 Pew Research poll); the belief that public school teachers are paid too little (62% in a 2020 YouGov poll), implying a desire to see their pay increased; K-12 schools putting too much emphasis on testing (66% in a 2015 Gallup Poll). Partisan and demographic differences play sizable roles in the support for free tuition for public colleges.
Americans are divided when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, but agree that the U.S. healthcare system has problems. In a pre-COVID-19 world, January 2019 Gallup poll found that 70% of Americans say the U.S. healthcare system is in a state of crisis. At the same time, a January 2020 Pew Research poll found a greater percentage of Americans (73%) say providing adequate medical care should be the federal government’s responsibility. This poll shows Democrats and low income individuals supporting the federal government’s role in providing medical support services more than Republicans and middle to upper income individuals.
While this confirms characteristic Republican-Democrat, big-small government tension, support for enabling drug price negotiations between the federal government and drug companies shows an aspect of government involvement that transcends demographic and party lines. House Bill HR 3 passed in December 2019, enabling previously prohibited negotiations on drug prices between the federal government and drug companies. Public support for a similar vote in the Senate remains high (75% of U.S. adults in an April 2020 Gallup poll), though there is no sign that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will move forward to a vote. A recent April 2020 Gallup poll found 66% of Americans report the cost of prescription drugs has increased and worry that they will continue to do so in a COVID-19-stricken world.
There is also broad support for improving healthcare access for veterans. For instance, a 2016 Gallup poll found 91% support for allowing veterans to get healthcare at any facility that accepts Medicare (as opposed to just Veterans Affairs) and 74% support for spending money to "modernize" Veterans Affairs.
Other healthcare related issues that have just shy of two-thirds support include the belief that providing health insurance is the federal government’s responsibility (64% in a January 2020 Pew Research poll) and support for Medicare-for-All (56% in a May 2020 Kaiser Family Foundation poll). This structure would guarantee coverage to everyone in the U.S. with no premiums, deductibles, co-pays, or other out-of-pocket expenses though the validity and reliability of polls and reports regarding healthcare reform varies. Conflicting polling data collected over the last two years show different support levels for a government-run system such as Medicare-for-All. When asked about favorability of having a national health plan in which all Americans would get their insurance from a single government plan, a May 2020 Kaiser Family Foundation poll found 56% of the American public--one percentage point lower than the highest recorded support level in 2017-- is more likely to favor than to oppose a national Medicare-for-all health plan. A 2019 Gallup poll shows significantly less support for a government-run system (42%).
Terrorism and National Security
Americans share concern about both foreign and domestic security threats. An April 2020 Pew Research poll found 70% of Americans view the spread of infectious diseases, terrorism, the spread of nuclear weapons, and cyberattacks from other countries as major national threats. Unsurprisingly, infectious disease spread is perceived as the most worrisome threat given the current state of COVID-19 (79%).
On the domestic front, a November 2019 Pew Research poll found that Americans are concerned about cyber monitoring in the form of data collection by companies (79%) and the government (64%); specifically, the amount of data being collected and the security of that data (70%). What is being done with the collected data? Eight-in-ten Americans could not tell you. The same percentage of Americans think possible risks of data collection by companies outweigh the benefits and 95% of Americans do not feel they benefit personally from such data collection.
Other national security-related actions that do not quite have two-thirds majority support include nearly six in ten Americans that disapprove of the Iran nuclear agreement (57% in a 2016 Gallup poll), and 56% of Americans that approve of the U.S. military action that resulted in the death of a prominent Iranian general (January 2020 Gallup poll). A 2020 Gallup poll found nearly two-thirds of Americans (62%) think military spending is "about right" (neither too high nor too low).
A June 2017 Pew Research poll found substantial majorities favor gun policies that include; preventing people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns (89%); requiring background checks for private sales and at gun shows (84%); barring gun purchases by people on no-fly or watch lists (83%); creating a federal government database to track all gun sales (71%); and banning assault-style weapons (68%). Majorities favor these policies, though wide partisan and gun ownership gaps exist regarding support levels. Around half of Americans (52%) favor stricter gun laws, but over two-thirds (72%) also believe that "most people" (64%) or "almost everyone" (8%) should be allowed to legally own guns.
A majority of Americans think immigration is a good thing for the country to varying degrees (77% in a May 2020 Gallup poll), but also agree that the U.S. needs secure borders as opposed to open borders (79% in a 2018 Harvard-Harris poll). 74% of Americans support Congress passing a law that grants permanent legal status to immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children as of a 2020 Pew Research poll. The recent Supreme Court decision to keep DACA in place after it was challenged by the Trump administration receives nearly two-thirds majority support (64% in a June 2020 YouGov poll).
There is also broad support for merit-based immigration. A 2018 Pew poll found 78% of Americans support high-skilled immigration, and the above-referenced Harvard-Harris poll found 68% oppose "the lottery that randomly picks 50,000 people to enter the U.S. each year for greater diversity," and 79% preferring merit-based immigration to family-based immigration (see NPR summary).
Substantially increasing federal infrastructure spending is a bipartisan- supported issue. A 2016 Gallup poll found that 75% of Americans support higher infrastructure spending, and a 2017 Gallup poll found just under two-thirds (64%) support President Trump’s specific proposal to enact a $1 trillion infrastructure program. However, support for this program varies by funding mechanism. 70% of Americans support paying for this program with a wealth tax according to 2020 polling data from Vox and Data for Progress (we note that Data for Progress could be a partisan source in this context).
Trade and Foreign Affairs
A 2019 Gallup poll found that 74% of Americans view foreign trade favorably as an economic growth opportunity, though some other polls have found lower support (e.g. 56% in a 2018 Bertelsmann-Stiftung/Queen's University Poll). Several polls (e.g. here and here) have found Americans divided on NAFTA, with no majority supporting or opposing it. Polls have found that relatively few Americans have an opinion--positive or negative--about the USMCA and the Phase 1 China deal (e.g. see here and here).
In contrast, NATO remains popular: 77% of Americans supported maintaining the NATO alliance in a March 2019 Gallup poll, though slightly fewer than two-thirds (62%) reported viewing NATO favorably in 2017 Pew survey.
Recent events have brought police and criminal justice reforms and race relations to the forefront of national news cycles. A recent June 2020 YouGov/The Economist poll found that 67% of Americans perceive race relations as “generally good,” in their local communities, while a greater amount (72%) see race relations as “generally bad,” in the U.S. as a whole--pointing to a mismatch between local and national viewpoints.
Two-thirds of U.S. adults say they support the Black Lives Matter movement and a greater percentage (70%, in a June 2020 Pew Research poll ) report engaging in racial equality-focused conversations with family or friends in the last month despite deeply divided views along partisan lines regarding Black Lives Matter.
Many of the race-related policies being widely discussed currently are already covered in other policy categories above and below, including Economy, Inequality, Taxes, and the Deficit, Education, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice. One related policy not mentioned in these other categories is affirmative action. Support for affirmative is highly sensitive to the wording of the question. For instance, a 2019 Gallup poll found 61% of Americans support affirmative action for minorities, while a Pew Research poll released around the same time found 73% of Americans oppose considering race in college admissions. Other polls have found low support for reparations for slavery and divided opinion on renaming monuments and military bases (e.g., here and here).
Aside from pro-choice and pro-life self-identifications, most Americans agree that abortion should be legal under some circumstances. These include instances where the woman’s life is endangered (83% agree in a first trimester situation and 75% agree in a third trimester situation in a June 2018 Gallup poll) and where the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest (77% agree in a first trimester situation in a June 2018 Gallup poll). An August 2019 Pew Research poll found 70% of Americans oppose completely overturning the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.
A recent February 2020 Pew Research poll found that two-thirds of Americans say the federal government is not doing enough to reduce the effects of global climate change, protect water quality of lakes, rivers, streams, and protect air quality. While it is hard to find two-thirds majority support for other high-level concern statements, climate change-related policies can get two-thirds support for more specific concern statements and some specific policies. Some of these include: large-scale tree planting (90% in a 2020 Pew poll); tax credits for businesses developing carbon capture and storage (84%, same Pew poll); tougher restrictions on power plant carbon emissions (80%, same Pew poll); taxing corporations based on their carbon emissions (73%, same Pew poll); tougher fuel efficiency standards for cars (71%, same Pew poll); net metering policies (76% in a 2017 NSEE Survey); support of states requiring increased use of renewable energy through Renewable Portfolio Standards (83% in a 2017 NSEE Survey); state-level energy efficiency mandates (81% in a 2017 NSEE survey): “somewhat” or “strong” concern about the recent hottest decade on record from NOAA data (71% in a January 2016 YouGov poll); emphasizing the production of domestic energy from alternative energy such as wind and solar power (70% and 80% respectively in a March 2019 Gallup poll).
Politicized news cycles surrounding COVID-19 show differences in the ways Americans believe they should respond to the uncertain nature of the virus’ spread and lethality when considering precautions and alterations to their “normal” lives. From a global perspective, almost two-thirds of Americans rate South Korea, Germany, and the UK higher than the U.S. regarding COVID-19 response effectiveness in a May 2020 Pew Research poll.
Despite rhetoric becoming increasingly divisive, two-thirds of Americans are “very” or “moderately” confident that social distancing saves lives according to a May 2020 Gallup poll and a majority (72%) of U.S. adults say they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if it were available right now (May 2020 Pew Research poll). Additionally, a June 2020 Gallup poll found that almost 9 in 10 Americans are “somewhat” or “very concerned” about drug prices rising as a result of COVID-19. Just over two-thirds of Americans (68%) say that the federal government is responsible for providing medical care to undocumented COVID-19 patients according to a May 2020 Pew Research poll.
Jobs or safety? Economic health and prosperity or public health? These questions are often pitted against one another in news cycles and press conferences. Though the U.S. is experiencing skyrocketing unemployment rates and though unemployed Americans continue to struggle, a May 2020 Pew Research poll found that just over two-thirds of Americans who have lost their jobs or wages due to COVID-19 share concern that states will lift restrictions too quickly (68%).
2017 ACLU polling results show specific criminal-justice reform proposals that receive over two-thirds majority support. These include; bipartisan support for criminal justice reform (91%); reducing the prison population in the U.S. (71%); the belief that people with mental health disabilities belong in mental health programs instead of in prison (84%); and support for elected officials who support eliminating mandatory minimum laws (72%). A majority of Americans recognize racial bias in this system with only one-in-three agreeing that Black people are fairly treated within the criminal justice system.
Unity also exists around police reform. Two-thirds of Americans support banning police officers from using any kind of neck restraint (67%), support a warning system to identify problem officers (80%), almost nine-in-ten agree that police officers should receive conflict de-escalation training to avoid using force (88%), and 87% support outfitting police officers with body cameras in a June 2020 YouGov poll. Only 16% in this poll supported cutting funding for police departments.
According to a 2018 Pew Research poll, the American public strongly favors ideas about election policy that include requiring all voters to show government-issued photo ID to vote, automatically updating voter registration when someone moves, and allowing people convicted of felonies to vote after their sentences are served. Just under two-thirds of Americans (65%) support establishing Election day as a national holiday and allowing automatic registration for all eligible citizens.
A May 2018 Pew Research poll found indications of public concern over campaign spending and money in politics. 77% of Americans say there should be limits on the amount of money individuals and groups can spend on campaigns and nearly two-thirds think new laws could be written that could effectively reduce the role of money in politics (65%).
Though we could not find a poll with two-thirds majority support regarding gerrymandering policies, a 2017 YouGov poll found that over half of Americans think the Supreme Court should strike down congressional districts that have been drawn to give lopsided advantages (52%) with broad bipartisan support.