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GSG Compass: The Outsider Illusion: How Democrats Should Navigate an Angry Electorate

Emulating Trump’s discontent is not the answer for down-ballot Democrats. Voters want to know what you can do for them.   

The primaries—not to mention recent events—have brought to the forefront how deeply unhappy, distrustful, and angry Americans are towards their elected leaders. Donald Trump gained traction in the primary—in part—by railing against everything that is wrong with America. But how do the underlying angry anti-Washington sentiments that carried Trump to primary victory translate to a general election race?

The answer is, they don’t. Or at least, not on their own. Our latest GSG Compass surveyed 1,000 Americans about what they want from their elected leaders, and it wasn’t an angry tone or anti-establishment rhetoric. Quite the opposite, we found.

Overall, people want experience, a record of accomplishment and a proven ability to get things done. Railing at the failures of Washington, the D.C. dysfunction, or politics as usual will not be enough for down-ballot Democrats. Instead, voters want to see what candidates can do for them – as evidenced by their experience and proven ability to get things done.

With this knowledge in hand, how can down-ballot Democratic challengers and incumbents make their case in a general election? GSG Compass provides guidance on what people are looking for now, as we head to November.