New research suggests something most folks may have already suspected — Democratic Twitter isn’t all that representative of the actual Democratic Party. What does that mean in the most progressive presidential primary in our nation’s history?

The Hidden Tribes Center, a project of More In Common, has new data showing that the digital left—that of high volume, high impact, progressive politics—represents less than a third of the actual Democratic Party. While that segment often dominates the political discussion, the bulk of the party is composed of moderate members; more willing to compromise, less willing to follow the ideological lead of their more liberal counterparts.

This poses important questions ahead of 2020—a cycle dominated by candidates and policies that are arguably more progressive than at any time in modern history.
-Where do you focus outreach?
-What kind of candidates are folks looking for?
-What issues are most important to the actual electorate?

Here at Focus on Rural America, we’ve been attempting to find answers to those questions. We conduct a quarterly poll of likely Iowa caucus-goers to take the pulse of the electorate, and we’ll continue doing so right up until the Caucus in February 2020. Here’s what we’ve found so far:

The most important thing, in each poll we’ve conducted, isn’t the pursuit of hyper-liberal policies. It’s not Medicare for All or the Green New Deal. Likely caucus-goers are looking for someone who practices good judgment. They’re looking for someone who can play well with others. And they want someone who can unite people and work to heal the divisions that are tearing the country apart. While it’s impossible to objectively measure what any person’s internal compass on “moderate” or “liberal”, “left” or “center” is, folks are looking for the party to move more to the center than to the left—by a margin of 58% to 31%.

This has interesting implications in a state like Iowa. Among likely caucus-goers, there is broad support for key progressive priorities—fighting climate change, addressing the cost of living, expanding health care. But there is also an overriding interest in bringing rural areas back into the fold. That means providing economic outreach to communities that have been left behind, supporting homegrown agriculture and the renewable energy industry, and giving small towns the chance for their kids to stay and have meaningful, fulfilling lives.

It’s early still, much too early to pick favorites in the Caucus. But it’s the perfect time for campaigns to pitch their vision and tell these more moderate voters how they plan to lead, how they aim to unite, and how they will refocus on voters that contributed to Democratic victories in the past. That’s going to call for turning heads in areas Democrats have trouble with—the rural south, the rust belt, and the midwest. If recent congressional victories by Democrats across Iowa are any indication, they should be pleasantly surprised by the pay off.

Further reading on the Hidden Tribes Center:
The Democratic Electorate on Twitter Is Not the Actual Democratic Electorate, New York Times
The Hidden Tribes of America

Our Quarterly Polls:
September 2018
December 2018
March 2019