DECEMBER 2o14

E XECUTIVE SUMMARY

Our first Beyond the Beltway Insights Initiative study shows that Congress is held in low regard and the inability to get
things done is a major concern of voters no matter who controls the majority. However, this report shows that while
voters outside the Beltway may have partisan preferences, Washington’s partisan lines are not necessarily relevant to
voters when they are thinking about solutions to problems. Instead, we found that voters, regardless of ideology, are
willing to support ideas that cross partisan lines.
As a result, there are many areas where Washington could improve its image with voters who are disgusted with
gridlock and make progress. Most notably, despite job growth and falling unemployment, a majority of voters believe
that the national economy is still on the wrong track and are looking for action. When it comes to taxes, there is broad
support from conservatives, moderates and liberals for a middle class tax cut, but also for measures that would seem
to span ideological divides like raising taxes on the wealthy and cutting corporate taxes to make American businesses
more competitive.
This survey also shows troubling findings for racial unity in the country and the American justice system. A quarter of
African Americans view racism as the number one challenge facing the country. While Americans generally support
their local police, 40% of voters overall agreed with the statement that the acquittal of officers involved in Ferguson
and Staten Island show that America’s law enforcement system treats African Americans differently than white
Americans. Over 80% of African American voters agree that recent decisions by grand juries in Staten Island and
Ferguson indicate that the law enforcement system treats African Americans and white Americans differently, as did a
majority of Hispanics and voters under 40 years old.

2

Contents

The Political Landscape............................................................................................................................................................. 4

Economic Priorities of the Next President.................................................................................................................... 4

Ideologies & 2016............................................................................................................................................................ 5

Main Street’s Economic Agenda.............................................................................................................................................. 6

Economic Policies............................................................................................................................................................ 6

Tax Reform....................................................................................................................................................................... 7

America’s Racial Divide.............................................................................................................................................................. 8
Federal Budget & Sequestration............................................................................................................................................ 9
The Nation’s Pulse on Key Issues.......................................................................................................................................... 11

Immigration Reform..................................................................................................................................................... 11

Citizens United & Campaign Finance.......................................................................................................................... 11

Climate Change............................................................................................................................................................. 12

Privacy & Technology.................................................................................................................................................... 13

The Highway Trust Fund............................................................................................................................................... 13

Media Consumption................................................................................................................................................................. 15
Methodology.............................................................................................................................................................................. 16
About Us..................................................................................................................................................................................... 17

3

THE POLITICAL L ANDSCAPE

Voters remain strongly dissatisfied with national politics. They are unfavorable toward both Congressional parties and
Congress as an institution is one of the least trusted organizations in the country. In fact, among voters who are familiar with
the House of Cards villain Frank Underwood, Underwood’s favorability ratings are significantly higher than those of Congress.
When voters were asked about their concerns regarding either a Republican or Democratic control of government, gridlock
and an inability to work across party lines were among the top three responses.

• Nearly a third of voters say the economy is the top problem facing the country. More Republicans (37%) are focused on
the economy than Democrats (25%) or Independents (29%). Independents also identified the federal budget (14%) and
public safety (10%) as the top issue. Democrats also picked inequality (10%) and healthcare (10%).

• While the economy was chosen as the top issue by pluralities of whites and Hispanics, 25% of African Americans said
racism was the leading problem facing the country, and 12% said public safety.

Economic Priorities of the Next President

• In addition to viewing the economy as the leading issue facing the
country, more voters are looking for the next president to improve
the economy through economic growth (60%) compared to improving
the economy through economic fairness (40%).

• Moderates and Independents are clear in their preference for growth

GROWTH > FAIRNESS
Thinking about your next president,
which would you prefer?

6o%

focus on economic growth

approach from the next president. Sixty percent of moderates and
62% of Independents say they prefer a candidate who emphasizes
growth. In this way they are closer to Republicans, who favor a
growth approach to the economy 71%-29% than Democrats who are
split 50%-50%.

• Groups that tend to make up the Democratic base like liberals,
African Americans, and Hispanics lean more heavily toward a
candidate with a fairness plan than other groups, (although they are
split relatively equally between the two choices.)

4o%

focus on economic fairness

4

Ideological Scale

Ideologies & 2O16
A plurality of voters place themselves in the center of the
political spectrum, but see the parties in Congress as further
toward the liberal and conservative ends of the spectrum.

• Self-described moderates are slightly more likely to
see Democrats in Congress as moderate (43%) than

Where would you place … on a scale from 1 to 9, where 1 means
very liberal, 5 means moderate, and 9 means very conservative?
Total Liberal
(Net 1–3)

Republicans in Congress (36%).

Moderate
(Net 4–6)

Total Conservative
(Net 7–9)

11%

2O%

• Looking forward to 2016, 49% of all voters are looking for
a president who is also moderate. Among Democrats,
49% say the next president should be a moderate, while
62% of Independents say the next president should be

32%

moderate. Meanwhile, 59% of Republicans say the next

3O%

Chris Christie

president should be a conservative.

57%

• While voters are just beginning to assess the potential

49%

Next President
23%

2016 candidates, Hillary Clinton is seen as moderate

9%

by 32% of all voters and described as liberal by 58%.
This is largely driven by overwhelming numbers of
Republicans (71%) who are likely to describe her and

3O%

other Democrats in Congress as liberals.

46%

45%

Yourself

• Chris Christie, meanwhile, is seen as moderate by 59% of
Republicans and 66% of Independents, but just 47% of

46%

Rand Paul
1O%

Democrats. Rand Paul was seen as moderate by 46% of

1O%

voters, and Jeb Bush as moderate by 41%.

• Sixty percent of Republicans are looking for the next
president to be a conservative, and Christie is viewed

49%

as conservative by just 29% of Republicans.

41%

4O%

Jeb Bush

By comparison, Jeb Bush is seen as conservative by

5O%

Bill Clinton

47% of Republicans, and Rand Paul is seen as

11%

conservative by 43% of Republicans.

The Bottom Line
Fairness and equality are important for a share
of the electorate that leans Democratic, but a
Democrat will also need to have an economic
plan that does not ignore growth at the expense
of talking about fairness and inequality to
persuade independent and moderate voters. The
danger for Republicans, meanwhile, is focusing
too much on cutting the size of government
without addressing at least half of general
election voters who prefer an economic growth
message and policies.

34%

1O%

56%

32%

Democrats in Congress

58%

Hillary Clinton

8%

6O%

Republicans in Congress

9%

32%

28%

63%

Barack Obama

5

Main S treet ’s Economic Agenda

Voters are far more bullish on the direction of their state economy than on the direction of the national economy. Even
though the stock market has been improving and the unemployment rate has dropped to below 2008 levels, a majority
of voters believe the U.S. economy is in poor shape. Voters are slightly more optimistic about their state economy — 51%
believe the economy in their state is good or very good. This is especially true of voters in the Midwest. This trend continues
as voters to look toward the future. A majority of voters believe the U.S. economy is on the wrong track, while a majority (55%)
also believes their state economy is on the right track (55%).
Overall, voters are divided between those who believe they
will be better off in five years (45%) or who do not think things

Looking ahead in five years, do you think
you and your family will be...

will change (42%) but just 13% believe they will be worse off.
African American and Hispanic voters are far more optimistic
than White voters. Seven in ten African American voters
believe in five years their family will be better off. Voters
believe the most helpful thing Congress could pass would be

45%

13%

42%

to move forward with a middle class tax cut.

Better Off

Worse Off

About the Same

Perceptions of the economy vary strongly with partisan identification. Two-thirds of Democrats say the national economy is
on the right track (67%), while 77% of Republicans say it is on the wrong track. A majority of Democrats believe they will be
better off in five years; meanwhile, nearly half of Republicans believe their personal situation will be about the same.

Economic POLICIES
Moving from economic conditions to economic policy, there are a number of proposals that Congress could act on with the
support of a broad cross-section of voters.

• Voters felt the most helpful national economic policy would be to increase efforts to keep companies from shipping
jobs overseas. Almost half of all voters (47%) ranked it as “very helpful” to the U.S. economy. Democrats view this as the
most beneficial policy for the economy, followed by increasing taxes on the wealthy and ensuring fair pay for women.

• Republicans were less enthusiastic about any of the policies offered, but 38% said stopping jobs from moving overseas
would be very beneficial to the economy, while 35% said middle class tax cuts would be helpful, and 33% supported
cutting spending on welfare and food stamps.

• Fair pay for women continues to be a popular proposal. Voters ranked fair pay for women in the top two most helpful
economic policies for themselves and their families—this is largely driven by Democrats and Independents. While
Republicans believe pay fairness is more helpful than hurtful, this is not a top economic policy for them.

6

Tax Reform
The topic of reforms to the tax system provide a good example of an area where majorities of voters can support ideas that
divide politicians inside the Beltway. A majority of Americans support a comprehensive tax reform proposal that includes a
middle class tax cut, asking the wealthy to pay more, and corporate tax reform that lowers rates while closing loopholes.

• Cutting taxes on the middle class is strongly supported by 49% of voters including 53% of liberals, 50% of moderates
and 44% of Republicans. With a total of 88% expressing some level of support, the middle class tax cut is near the top
of the list of economic measures voters want Congress to pass.

• While backing lower taxes, 76% of voters also expressed support for raising taxes on the wealthy, a measure
progressives say would make the tax system fairer. This measure was strongly supported by 49% of voters – the same
level of strong support enjoyed by a middle class tax cut. Higher taxes on the wealthy was supported by majorities of
liberals (67%) and moderates (52%), although just 30% of conservatives. One possible reason that voters can support
both policies is that both are viewed by a significant number as measures that would be very helpful to the economy.

• Although a majority of voters agree with raising taxes on the wealthy, they also support lowering corporate taxes, albeit
with less intensity than lowering middle class taxes or raising taxes on the wealthy. When we asked voters whether they
agree Congress should “Congress should reform our nation’s tax code by getting rid of loopholes and setting a corporate
tax rate that makes us competitive with other major industrial countries,” 49% saying they strongly support it.

• Corporate tax reform also maintains strong support
when voters hear arguments for and against reform.
After reading arguments for and against corporate
tax reforms, 76% agree with the statement “Congress
should pass corporate tax reform. This would make
our tax code simpler and fairer, create good paying
American jobs, and generate stronger economic
growth.” Meanwhile, 24% agreed with a statement
which said “would give a tax break to companies who
don’t need it, won’t create any jobs, and in many
cases send more jobs overseas.” Support remained
strong across all demographic groups, including
more than 70% each of liberals, moderates and

CORPORATE TAX REFORM

76%

Congress should pass
corporate tax reform

24%

Congress should not pass
corporate tax reform

conservatives.

The Bottom Line
While Congress may be polarized into ideological camps, voters agree on issues that cross ideological and
partisan divisions in Washington. One example of this is on economic policies. Voters are not just looking for
lower taxes; they also want measures that make the tax system fairer, more competitive, and benefit
the economy.

7

America’s R acial Divide

Perhaps the most startling findings of our survey are the country’s
deep and clear divisions along racial lines on matters related to race
and criminal justice. A majority of African American voters believe that
the forces of racial bias and prejudice remain prevalent in our society.

Thinking about the incidents in Ferguson and
Staten Island, which is closer to your point of view?
The system is fair. These are isolated incidents.
The system treats Africans Americans
differently than whites.

We should note that this study was conducted December 7-10, within
two weeks of the grand jury decisions in Staten Island and Ferguson.
It is probable that some of our findings are due to timing; however,
the mere fact that they exist should alarm leaders at all levels.
In our study we found that 74% of Americans continue to view their
local police as trustworthy; yet a racial dichotomy exists in the nation
on this and other matters. Whenever we have asked voters what
their chief concern facing the country in our other national polling
the economy (or a related matter) has consistently emerged as
voters’ greatest main concern. This time, however, African Americans
cited racism as their top concern, while the economy fell second.

• Local police are still seen as one of the most trustworthy
institutions or groups. However, there is lower trust for law
enforcement and local police overall among African Americans.

• Twenty-five percent of white voters said they considered local
police very trustworthy, and 22% of white voters said law
enforcement was very trustworthy.

• Only 12% of African Americans said local police is very
trustworthy, but that number was lower among those who
were asked their opinion of law enforcement (6%).

We probed the impact of recent events in Staten Island and
Ferguson by asking voters which statement they agreed with more:
The grand juries’ decisions were evidence of racial bias in our law
enforcement system, or that these were isolated events and the
system is generally fair.

• Sixty percent of voters indicated that these were isolated
events that did not reflect on the fairness of the system, but
Americans are deeply divided by race, age, and party.

• Over 80% of African American and 54% of Hispanic voters
said they believe our law enforcement system treats African
Americans differently than white Americans.

• Fifty-two percent of voters under 40, regardless of race,
also agreed the system is biased, as did 57% of Democrats,

6O%

7O%

WHITES

ALL VOTERS
4O%

3O%

18%

46%

AFRICAN
AMERICANS
82%

HISPANICS
54%

The Bottom Line
•A 
majority of the country’s African
Americans believe they are discriminated,
disenfranchised, and disadvantaged under
the law.
•T 
he intensity of these sentiments may
subside once media coverage of the incidents
in New York and Missouri dies down.
•E 
ven so, this issue cannot be ignored and the
fact that significant portions of the American
electorate feel that the odds are stacked
against them is problematic.

8

The 2o15 Budget Battle & Sequestration

Automatic spending cuts that were intended to force Congress to act on the debt ceiling have now been in effect since
March 2013. Sen. John McCain, the incoming chair of the Armed Services Committee, has said that sequestration’s effects
on the defense budget have been “unconscionable” and said it was “the worst vote I have cast in many years.” While some
Republicans like McCain are working to reverse the cuts imposed on the defense budget, others would lock in the budget
levels imposed by sequestration. Meanwhile, some Democrats have proposed lifting sequestration on more than just
defense budget, if not ending it altogether.

• When presented with arguments for and against lifting sequestration caps, 73% of voters approve of lifting the
sequestration in some form, and a plurality support lifting sequestration altogether. However, none of the three positions
have the support of a majority of voters, suggesting that the issue is as complicated for voters as it is in Congress.

• Overall, 43% of all voters say their view is closest to an argument for lifting sequestration altogether and replacing it
with a compromise plan that can pass congress with support from both sides. (Given that many Republicans oppose
this path, such a plan would need support from both sides to pass Congress). This position is supported by a plurality
of both Democrats and Independents. These voters say their position is closest to “Those who say Congress should
repeal caps on both military and domestic spending and work for a bipartisan compromise that addresses spending on
all areas, including defense, education and law enforcement.”

Reversing Military Sequestration
45
40

37

Those who say Congress should
repeal caps on both military and
domestic spending and work
for a bipartisan compromise
that addresses spending on
all areas, including defense,
education and law enforcement

33

Those who say that Congress
should reverse only the
military spending caps. This
would allow our military to
confront rising threats to our
national security

28

28 28

GOP

23

IND

24

DEM

26

FEMALE

27

IND

25

DEM

FEMALE

28

MALE

ALL

GOP

IND

DEM

FEMALE

MALE

30

MALE

43 43

ALL

43

GOP

48

ALL

In 2012 a deficit reduction law made
automatic spending cuts that applied
to the military and other areas of
the government, and capped future
spending on these programs. Half the
cuts applied to the military, and the
other half to other domestic programs.
Now, some members of Congress
would like to reverse the military
cuts so the military can deal with a
multitude of threats including ISIL
and a newly aggressive Russia. Others
would relax the caps on a broader
range of budget items like Head Start,
education and law enforcement.
Thinking about this debate, which
comes closer to your view?

Those who say Congress
should keep the spending
caps in place on both the
military and domestic spending
because they are an important
tool to reduce spending

9

• Meanwhile 30% of voters backed a partial repeal of sequestration on the defense budget only, such as that advocated
by McCain and some Republicans. These voters say their position is closest to “Those who say that Congress should
reverse only the military spending caps. This would allow our military to confront rising threats to our national security.

• Finally, 26% of voters say that sequestration should be kept in place. The argument these voters most closely identified
with was “Those who say Congress should keep the spending caps in place on both the military and domestic spending
because they are an important tool to reduce spending.”

The Bottom Line
Whichever path Congress takes to reverse sequestration will command a strong level of support among the
public, but the plurality of voters would prefer to see Congress relax caps on a broader range of budget items
like Head Start, education and law enforcement.

1o

The Nation’s Pulse on Key Issues

IMMIGR ATION REFORM
While Congress has kept comprehensive immigration reform legislation bottled up, a majority of liberals, conservatives, and
moderates would support passing a bill. In addition, most voters believe passing reform is more important than a political
fight that tries to penalize the president for his executive order to protect millions of immigrants from deportation.

• When voters were asked if they agree or disagree with several
proposals that Congress could pass next year, 48% of voters
overall said they strongly agree that “Congress should pass
a comprehensive immigration reform bill that strengthens
border security, and provides a pathway to citizenship for
undocumented workers if they undergo a background check,
pay taxes, and learn English.”

• Sixty-nine percent of voters indicated they would rather have
Congress focus on passing immigration reform than forcing
the president to reverse his executive order, even if it means
temporarily shutting down parts of the government.

• A majority of Democrats (82%) and Independents (72%), and
50% of Republicans, support moving forward with immigration
reform over reversing the president’s action.

• Similarly, strong majorities of white, Hispanic, and African
American voters want Congress to move forward on a
comprehensive reform plan.

31%

believe Congress should use
the tools at its disposal to
force the president to change
or reverse the order, even if
it means temporarily shutting
down parts of the government

69%

believe Congress should
come together and pass
comprehensive
immigration reform

Citizens United & Campaign Finance
The 2014 election was the third federal election cycle since the Supreme Court issued its decision in Citizens United that
effectively legalized unlimited, independent spending to effect elections. So far, Congress has failed to restrict the decision
despite strong support from voters.

88%
Congress should prevent unions, corporations,
outside groups, and wealthy individuals from
spending unlimited amounts of money to
influence elections

•A 
striking majority of voters (88%) agreed with the following statement:
Congress should prevent unions, corporations, outside groups and wealthy
individuals from spending unlimited amounts of money to influence elections.”
•F 
ifty-nine percent said they strongly agreed, and another 29% somewhat
agreed with only 12% of disagreeing.
•A 
majority of Democrats (62%), Independents (64%) and Republicans (52%) all
strongly agree with the statement, as do voters in all major demographic groups.

11

Climate Change
Key Congressional committees in the next Congress will be chaired by members of Congress who dispute the validity of
climate change. Outside the Beltway, however, the debate is less over whether change is occurring and more about what to
do. By a three-to-one margin, voters believe that climate change is happening, and agree that Congress should act on several
measures designed to reduce the threat of global climate change.

• Two-thirds of voters believe climate change is occurring, including majorities of Democrats (81%) and Independents
(69%) and a plurality of Republicans (46%).

• Among voters who believe climate change is occurring, 61% said it is a severe threat that must be addressed
immediately, 21% said it is a natural event that humans cannot effect, and only 12% indicated it is an issue that should
be dealt with in the future and not a pressing threat at the moment.

• Of six different potential actions that Congress and the president could take to address the threat posed by climate
change, three were strongly supported by one-third or more of all voters:

Support

19%

25%

81%
Negotiate more agreements with
other countries would encourage
them to reduce their output of
greenhouse gases if the US does too

Oppose

25%

75%
Have the Environmental Protection
Agency regulate emissions of carbon
dioxide as a pollutant

75%
Enact a carbon tax on pollutants and
use the revenues to pay for new,
cleaner technologies for the future

• All three of the above actions received strong support of Democrats and Independents. The most strongly supported
among Republicans were negotiating agreements to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (Strongly supported by
24% of Republicans), and building new nuclear power plants that have lower emission levels than those powered by
coal. (Strongly supported by 28% of Republicans).

• When those who said climate change was occurring were asked what evidence was the most convincing, 34% pointed
to warmer or more severe weather patterns, 20% said rising sea levels and melting polar ice caps was the most
convincing proof, and another 9% pointed to the general scientific consensus.

12

Privacy & TECHNOLOGY
In September 2014, Apple announced that it would adopt new encryption technologies for its iPhone 6 that would use a
code unique to the owner that the company would not have access to, and therefore could not provide to law enforcement,
even if served with a warrant. Google followed suit and announced a similar policy for its Android phones shortly after. The
FBI immediately expressed concern and called on Congress to pass legislation requiring manufacturers to provide law
enforcement with access to their devices under a court order.

56%

Companies like Apple and Google are doing the right
thing. Law enforcement has access to more personal
data than they’ve ever had access to. People have
a right to privacy that shouldn’t be defeated by a
back door that the company or law enforcement can
break into without a citizen’s knowledge

Companies like Apple and Google are in the
wrong. The new technology takes away tools that
police and law enforcement use to stop terrorism,
catch pedophiles, and solve homicide cases.
Even if well-intentioned, these policies will result
in justice being denied to real victims

44%

• Support for the position of technology companies included 61% of Democrats, 55% of independents and 60% of voters
under 40 years old.

• Republicans were evenly split between the two arguments. There was also a large gap between men and women, with
men supporting the technology companies’ side of the argument by a 60%-40% margin and women more evenly
divided 52%-48%.

• Technology companies are among the most trusted industries we tested in the poll, with 79% of voters saying they
were very or somewhat trustworthy, compared to 21% who said they were not trustworthy.

The Highway Trust Fund
In the coming months, Congress will again face the problem
of fixing the funding stream that helps pay for building
and maintaining of much of the country’s transportation
infrastructure. The Highway Trust Fund uses money
collected from an 18 cent per gallon tax on gas to help
pay for construction and upkeep of the nations’ roads
and bridges. However, greater needs and lower gas tax
collections mean the fund is spending more money than
it brings in. Currently the fund is expected to run out of
money in 2015. This would slow down or cause many
infrastructure projects to grind to a halt, which some
economists say could cause the loss of 700,000 jobs.

67%

Congress should not raise
the gas tax

33%

Congress should raise
the gas tax by 15 cents
per gallon

One solution proposed is increasing the gas tax to a level that could sustain the fund for a longer time. Supporters of this
approach have not convinced voters. When asked to pick between an argument of supporters and one of opponents, voters
picked the opponents argument by a two-to-one margin.

13

The Bottom Line

• Congressional Republicans calling for reversals to the president’s immigration executive action are limiting
their support to the GOP base, a poor long-term strategy.

• Democrats should frame this debate as a choice between shutting down the government to penalize the
president or passing comprehensive immigration reform.

• There is a clear disconnect between the Beltway and Main Street on campaign finance.

• Curbing the influence of money in electoral politics was one of the strongest policy initiatives tested.

• Politicians who continue to deny the existence of climate change are at odds with the vast majority of
American voters, including a plurality of Republicans.

• Americans are taking the side of technology companies over law enforcement and national security
agencies in the battle over access to users’ encrypted data on mobile devices.

• While there are differences of opinion on how to pay for highway construction and repair, a majority of
voters support more funding for road and bridge repair and believe it would help the economy.

14

MediA CONSUMPTION

More voters are turning to the internet for their news and entertainment. About half of all voters (47%) spend five hours or
more on the internet a day and about four in ten voters use the internet as their primary source of news, a close second to
the number of voters who use the television as their primary source of news. Voters not only listed Facebook as their primary
social media tool, but also as a popular source of news (second to news aggregating sites like Google and Yahoo).
While Independents prefer to use the internet to get their news, both Democrats and Republicans prefer to get their news
from television. Neither Democrats nor Independents have a clear preference for television news, but a strong plurality of
Republicans, four out of ten, prefer Fox as their main news source.
Few voters rely on print news sources (about 5%), and those who do prefer a local paper to national papers such as the New
York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Even fewer rely on the radio as their primary news source.

DIGITAL NEARLY ECLIPSES TV AS TOP NEWS MEDIUM
5%

4%

3%

ALL

43%

8%

UNDER 5o

48%
TV

4%

58%

INTERNET

1%

5o+

35%
PRINT

3%

26%
RADIO

61%
OTHER

15

Methodology

This report covers the results of our research: 993 total interviews in December 7-10 with a sample of likely 2016 voters. The
interviews were conducted online. The margin of error for overall results is ±3.11% and higher among subgroups.
The regions are defined as follows:


• Northeast – which represents 19% of the electorate and is defined as anyone living in ME, NH, VT, MA, CT, NY, PA, NJ.

• Midwest – which represents 23% of the electorate and is defined as anyone living in ND, SD, NE, KS, MO, IA, MN, WI, IL,
IN, MI, OH.

• South – which represents 36% of the electorate and is defined as anyone living in TX, OK, AR, LA, MS, TN, KY, AL, WV,
MD, DE, VA, DC, NC, SC, GA, FL.

• West-Pacific – which represents 22% of the electorate and is defined as anyone living in WA, OR, CA, MT, ID, WY, UT,
CO, AZ, NM, NV, AK, HI.

This poll was a joint project of the Washington, DC offices of SKDKnickerbocker and Benenson Strategy Group.
Note: Due to small sample size, results in the ‘Race – Other’ category should be interpreted as directional only.

16

About US

The Beyond the Beltway Insights Initiative is a joint project by two of the country’s leading insights and strategic
communications firms, Benenson Strategy Group and SKDKnickerbocker.

Benenson Strategy Group (BSG) is a leading strategic research consultancy that delivers breakthrough
insights and strategies to many of the world’s top Fortune 500 companies, heads of state, and institutions. We marry our
language expertise with innovative research to help leaders take on their toughest challenges. From the President of the
United States to Toyota, Intel, and Uber, BSG is the trusted adviser that global brands turn to when they need to connect,
compete, and convince.

SKDKnickerbocker brings unparalleled strategic communications experience to Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, philanthropic organizations, labor unions, and political committees and candidates. There is no company that better
understands the intersection of press, politics, and policy. And there is no better place than SKDK if you are in need of
strategic communications advice to manage a crisis, protect a brand, advocate an issue, or win an election.

Our People
Pete Brodnitz is a partner at Benenson Strategy Group, leading the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. He brings more than
twenty years of strategic research experience for his clients. These include thirteen heads of state on four continents,
domestic political leaders at all levels, Fortune 500 companies, and leading advocacy and nonprofit institutions.
J.B. Poersch oversees SKDKnickerbocker’s political division and uses his extensive political experience to develop strategy
for both corporate and advocacy clients. He is a cofounder and a general strategist for Senate Majority PAC – a Super PAC
that won 16 of 19 Senate races that were active in the 2012 cycle.
Mike Gehrke is a vice president with Benenson Strategy Group with more than 20 years of experience working with
international and domestic political and public affairs clients to develop winning insights-based strategies.
Doug Thornell is a Senior Strategist at SKDKnickerbocker, a leading political consulting and public affairs firm based in
Washington, D.C. and New York. He is the former spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Senior
Advisor to Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Deputy Political at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and
communications director for the Congressional Black Caucus.

CONTACT US
* pbrodnitz@bsgco.com
* DThornell@skdknick.com

@beyond_beltway

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