Steve Bullock's testing these messages among Iowa Democrats

Although Montana Governor Steve Bullock has not yet declared plans to run for president, a group supporting his ambitions has been polling Iowa Democrats to test positive messages about Bullock and several other declared or likely contenders.

I’ve long encouraged readers to record or take notes on political surveys. This post draws on a recording an Iowan provided after receiving the call on the evening of March 7. (Bleeding Heartland never provides identifying information about respondents; I’m only interested in the questions asked.)

The latest Selzer poll for the Des Moines Register, CNN, and Mediacom found Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders well ahead of the rest of the Democratic field in Iowa, with 27 percent and 25 percent, respectively. Bullock was among several candidates at 1 percent. Later today, Bleeding Heartland will publish analysis by Dan Guild, taking a historical view of polling this far out from the Iowa caucuses.

Returning to the topic of this post: the caller asked for the respondent by name, indicating that the pollster drew the sample from a voter list. That is typical for surveys commissioned by campaigns or political action committees, like Bullock’s Big Sky Values PAC. Selzer and other pollsters working for news organizations often draw a sample through a random digit dial method.

Next, the caller asked for respondent’s year of birth.

The next three questions were a likely voter screen.

Paraphrase: Thinking about the February 2020 caucuses, how likely are you to participate? Will you definitely participate, probably participate, probably not participate, or definitely not participate?

Have you attended caucuses in the past, or will this be your first caucus?

Have you attended a Democratic or Republican caucus, or both?

“I’m going to read a list of names of some people who are running or might run for president.” The caller asked the respondent to rate the likelihood of caucusing for each person from zero to 100, explaining that 100 means you will definitely caucus for the person, and zero means you will definitely not caucus for the person. “If you’ve never heard of the person or don’t know anything about them, please say so.” (I’m providing the exact wording of the titles and names provided for prospective candidates.)

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker

Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke

Washington Governor Jay Inslee

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren

Montana Governor Steve Bullock

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (caller pronounced his name correctly!)

Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar

Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney

California Senator Kamala Harris

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders

Former Vice President Joe Biden

“I’m going to read you some qualities a candidate for president can have.” The caller asked the respondent to rate each quality from zero to 100, with 100 meaning you would find that quality “very appealing,” and zero meaning you would find that quality “not at all appealing.” (I transcribed these statements verbatim.)

A candidate who is a key voice in the U.S. Senate, where she fights to hold the Trump administration accountable for its corruption

A candidate who supports free college so every student graduates debt-free

A candidate who has shown an ability to win somewhere other than a liberal coast, winning statewide in 2016, the same year Trump won the state by 20 points

A candidate who believes Democrats must show up and compete everywhere in Iowa and across the country, not just focus on big urban areas

A candidate who increased K-12 education funding, froze college tuition, and improved student performance at a time when other states are cutting financial investment in education

A candidate who is a leader in the fight to hold Wall Street banks accountable and protect consumers from being ripped off

A candidate who would be the first woman president

A candidate with a young family who understands that the challenges we face today will shape our children’s future

A candidate who convinced a Republican legislature to expand Medicare [sic] to cover more working families in their state, cutting the number of people without insurance by more than half

A candidate who has a history of working with Democrats and Republicans in their state to pass progressive policies, such as expanding Medicaid for working families, creating the state’s first public pre-K program, and passing one of the nation’s strongest campaign finance laws

A candidate who supports Medicare for All, a single-payer health care system that covers every American through a government-run plan like Medicare

A candidate who is running to stop the corrupting influence of big money in politics and who says that it is the only way we can start to address climate change, prescription drug costs, and other important issues

A candidate who supports the Green New Deal, which calls for a transition to 100 percent clean or renewable energy within ten years

A candidate who preserved public lands in their state and protected the environment from corporate polluters

A candidate who created public pre-K in their state for the first time

“I’m going to read you some pairs of statements about candidates running for president. After I read each pair, please tell me which comes closer to your view about who you would prefer as the Democratic nominee for president, even if neither is exactly right.” (Again, I transcribed these statements verbatim.) After the respondent picked a preferred statement from each pair, the caller asked him to clarify, “Do you feel that way strongly, or not so strongly?”

Would you prefer a Democratic nominee for president who supports Medicare for All and sponsored a bill to get everyone on a government health plan like Medicare, or supports proposals to reduce prescription drug prices, eliminate surprise medical bills from insurance companies, and allow more people to buy into Medicare?

Would you prefer a Democratic nominee for president who has helped lead the fight against the Republican agenda in Washington, DC, or has experience bringing Democrats and Republicans together to advance progressive policies?

Would you prefer a Democratic nominee for president who will be a strong progressive who won’t compromise on their values, or will find ways for Democrats and Republicans to pass progressive policies?

Would you prefer a Democratic nominee for president who has experience in Washington, DC as a U.S. senator, or has experience running a state as a governor?

Would you prefer a Democratic nominee for president who is the most liberal, or has the best chance of defeating Trump?

Would you prefer a Democratic nominee for president who represents a state on one of the coasts, or represents a state in the middle of the country?

Now I want to read a statement about one of the Democratic candidates considering running for president, Montana Governor Steve Bullock. Montana Governor Steve Bullock believes we need to return our government to the people by reducing the influence of corporate money in politics. As Montana attorney general, he took the fight all the way to the Supreme Court. As governor, he passed one of the nation’s strongest campaign finance laws and cracked down on dark money campaign spending by corporations and special interests. As president, he will fight the toxic influence of money in Washington and return power to the people.

Is that a very convincing, somewhat convincing, to vote for Steve Bullock for president?

Now that you’ve heard more, how likely are you to vote for Montana Governor Steve Bullock during the Democratic caucus, on a scale of zero to 100, with 100 meaning you will definitely vote for Steve Bullock, and zero meaning you will definitely not vote for Steve Bullock?

Which of the following do you feel best describes your political perspective: conservative, progressive, moderate, liberal, or libertarian?

What is the last year of schooling you have completed: first to eleventh grade, high school graduate, vocational or technical school, some college but no degree, associate’s degree, four-year college graduate or bachelor’s degree or graduate school or advanced degree?

What racial or ethnic group best describes you? (open-ended, did not list options)

Are you of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin or descent?

And for verification purposes, can you verify that I spoke with [respondent’s name]? And can you verify that I reached you at [respondent’s phone number]?

I was surprised the longer statement at the end didn’t mention Bullock’s success in persuading the Montana legislature to expand Medicaid or invest more in education at all levels. The “Meet Steve” page on the Big Sky Values PAC site describes the governor as follows.

Steve Bullock is the two-term governor and former attorney general of Montana. Bullock has advanced a strong progressive agenda in a deep red state and he is the only Democrat to be re-elected statewide in a state President Trump won.

Bullock has spent his career fighting on behalf of workers, students and families. Before serving in public office he represented workers as a labor lawyer and as a private citizen led the successful fight to raise Montana’s minimum wage. With Washington, D.C. increasingly divided by partisanship, Bullock has moved Montana forward by bringing people together.

Working with a Republican legislature, he expanded Medicaid, passed an Earned Income Tax Credit, established the state’s first public pre-K and passed one of the most progressive anti-dark money bills in the country. At the same time, Bullock has repeatedly vetoed Republican bills that would have undermined public education, workers rights, civil rights and a woman’s right to choose.

He was the first governor in the country to protect net neutrality through Executive Order, refused to send National Guard troops to the border, and he filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration over dark money.

Bullock is a Montana native and received his undergraduate degree from Claremont McKenna College and his law degree with honors from Columbia University Law School in New York. He and his wife Lisa have three children, Caroline, Alexandria and Cameron.

Bullock has been laying low during his early Iowa visits, but this poll is yet another sign that he will likely declare his candidacy for president once the Montana legislature completes its work this spring.

UPDATE: Bullock’s PAC sent this e-mail blast on the morning of March 11.

Steve Bullock’s Big Sky Values PAC is dedicated to taking action on the issues that matter to Democrats. If you’d like to only receive our most important email updates, click here. If you’d like to unsubscribe, click here.

Please, I need you to take my really short issues survey.

Democrats are at a crossroads. And we need input from everyone to rebuild our Party from the ground up. It’s the only way to move forward.

Please Respond Now →
I won’t sugar coat it. This past year has been tough. It has been a time of extreme political turmoil and divisiveness.

I’ve watched too many Republicans and even some Democrats go down a road that leads to division and pits the coasts against the rest of the country. I wholeheartedly believe we must call out the indignities of President Trump, but as Democrats we can’t make that our only message to voters across the country.

I’m here to tell you, I’m not going down that road.

Governing, enacting progressive policies, and winning elections requires us to tell all Americans how we’re going to create jobs and make their lives better. I’ve learned that firsthand here in Montana.

In 2016, President Trump won Montana by more than 20 percent. At the same time, I was re-elected as our Democratic Governor by four percent.

How? I talked about and acted on the key issues voters care about, like:

Getting Big Money out of politics
Preserving Medicaid
Protecting our public lands
And growing our economy and creating jobs
Now, I need to hear from you. It’s the only way we’ll build a coalition to win. So I have to ask: will you take my really short issues survey?

Please Respond Now →
As a Democrat in Montana, I don’t have the luxury of spending the day talking only to people who agree with me. And I think that must become a national rule. We can’t assume that voters, even those who disagree with us or didn’t vote for us, can’t be won by sharing the values we as Democrats are fighting for.

So we’re going to do what I did in Montana: we’re going to listen to people. We’re going to talk to people in deep blue districts and we’re going to talk to people in districts Trump won by 20 points. And we’re going to do all that while focusing on the issues that matter: creating an America where working folks can succeed, preserving Medicare and Medicaid while expanding access to quality healthcare, ending the flood of Dark Money in our elections, and raising the minimum wage.

That open dialogue starts today. I want to hear about what issues matter to you. Please, take a second to fill out my issues survey:

Click to Begin →
Can’t wait to get started,

Steve Bullock

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