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Popularity of the Democratic Candidates’ Big Ideas, Ranked

Are the progressive policies pitched by 2020 candidates alienating the rest of the America?

Offei Koram watches a broadcast of a Democratic presidential debate at a bar in AtlantaElection 2020 Debate Watch Party, Atlanta, USA - 27 Jun 2019

Offei Koram watches a broadcast of a Democratic presidential debate at a bar in Atlanta Election 2020 Debate Watch Party, Atlanta, USA - 27 Jun 2019

David Goldman/AP/Shutterstock

Many of the Big Ideas stirring the passions of the Democratic base in the 2020 primary are unpopular with the voting public at large, according to a new Marist Poll conducted for NPR and PBS — but a Green New Deal and legal pot are a hit with nearly two thirds of Americans.

Rolling Stone has examined the bold policy proposals lofted by the party’s 2020 candidates (read: The Democrats’ Radical Agenda). But this Marist survey is perhaps the first to offer comprehensive insight into public opinion on issues ranging from Medicare for All to free public college to reparations for slavery — even Andrew Yang’s proposed “freedom dividend,” a universal basic income of $1,000 a month for every adult in America.

The results suggest many of the purity tests Democratic candidates seeking to pass with progressives voters could make the general election more challenging, but they also prove the broad appeal of taxing the rich and treating the undocumented with dignity.

Below, in inverse order, the percentage of American adults who deem Democratic policy proposals a “good idea”:

Universal Basic Income (UBI) of $1,000 a month: 26%

Reparations for slavery: 27%

Decriminalizing illegal border crossings: 27%

Abolishing the death penalty: 36%

Medicare for All that ends private insurance: 41%

Eliminating the Electoral College: 42%

A tax on fossil fuels: 50%

$15/hour minimum wage: 56%

A sales ban for assault weapons like AR-15s: 57%

Raising taxes on incomes above $1 million: 62%

A Green New Deal: 63%

Legalize recreational cannabis: 63%

A pathway to citizenship for the undocumented: 64%

Medicare for All (that want it) — i.e. a public option to private insurance: 70%

Many of these proposals are complicated, and a pollster’s phrasing can influence results. Marist does a fair job with its cursory summaries. It polled, for example, “a Green New Deal to address climate change by investing government money in green jobs and energy efficient infrastructure.” (The pollster does less well in polling taxation, muddying the distinction between a wealth tax — an annual tax on accumulated wealth as proposed by Elizabeth Warren —  and a hike in the income tax for the wealthiest, polling: “a Wealth Tax, that is a higher tax rate on income above one million dollars.”)

The Marist poll has made headlines because it shows President Donald Trump’s approval rating on the rise (to 44 percent). But the same survey also underscores that only a narrow slice of Americans deem a second Trump term a good idea: By a margin of 53-39 percent, Americans say they definitely plan to vote against Trump in 2020.

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