Mar 21, 2019

Wisconsin swing voters know AOC better than most 2020 Democrats

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at a news conference. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was more recognizable to a focus group of Wisconsin swing voters than every Democratic presidential prospect except Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Elizabeth Warren.

Why it matters: AOC has only been in Congress for a few months, yet she's breaking through even in rural areas of the Midwest. It's not a great start for the 2020 Democrats who aren't recognizable at all in Wisconsin, a key battleground state, despite all the national attention they’re getting.

  • This was another takeaway from the Engagious/FPG focus group of swing voters I watched last week, which included eight Obama/Trump voters and four Mitt Romney/Hillary Clinton voters.

Between the lines: They even knew some of the issues she stands for (though not the Green New Deal). That's more than they knew about the senators.

  • "Her latest slogan was: 'I'm here to serve; I'm not here to gain power," one woman said of Ocasio-Cortez. Another mentioned her focus on environmental issues and tackling inequality.
  • Beto O'Rourke didn't resonate with them. "I think I've heard the name on the radio," said Adam K., a 47-year-old Obama/Trump voter.
  • Only three people knew Kamala Harris is a senator, and one man, George E., said "I saw her on The Colbert Show."

How it worked: We showed the focus group participants photos of each candidate without their name and asked them to score on a scale of 1 to 10 how confident they were in recognizing that person.

  • Sanders was by far the most recognizable, followed closely by Biden and Warren.
  • Sens. Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Harris scored at or around 2.5 out of 10.
  • Everyone else was virtually unrecognizable among these Wisconsin swing voters.
  • Jay Inslee and O'Rourke earned a score of 1 out of 10, and the rest — Julián Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, Pete Buttigieg, John Delaney, and John Hickenlooper — fell below that.
  • Somewhat surprisingly, these voters recognized Tulsi Gabbard even more than Inslee and O'Rourke.

Go deeper: Wisconsin swing voters are tired of Trump

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