Here’s What Voters Have Been Asking The 2020 Democrats

Ahead of the debates, a progressive group is showing what voters do -- and don’t -- want to know from the candidates.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) takes questions at a town hall in South Carolina. The Progressive Change Institute has tallied ne
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) takes questions at a town hall in South Carolina. The Progressive Change Institute has tallied nearly 2,700 questions that candidates have received from voters.

Here’s what Democratic voters care about: health care, the environment, immigration policy. Here’s what they don’t care about: the national debt, whether or not to impeach President Donald Trump, and how to appeal to his supporters in red states.

That’s the takeaway from a new study of the questions voters have asked the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates so far, according to the Progressive Change Institute. The group logged nearly 2,700 questions that voters have asked at 361 events with audio or video recordings available online. They’re releasing the study ahead of the first presidential debates, hoping to guide the NBC News moderators in what they ask the candidates next week in Miami.

“The data we’ve gathered makes it clear that voters tuning in to the debate want to hear candidates explain their plans to improve the health care system, address the climate crisis, and fix our broken immigration system,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Institute. (Another group co-founded by Green, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, has endorsed Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.)

“The public will be watching to see if NBC’s all-star moderating team asks an all-star set of questions based on the issues voters care about most, putting substance over the horse race and inside-the-Beltway questions,” Green said.

Twenty candidates in the massive Democratic presidential primary field are scheduled to debate over two nights next week in Miami, with both debates broadcast on NBC. Warren and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) headline the first night, with former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) debating on the second night. 

The most frequently posed questions were about health care policy, which accounted for nearly 10% of all questions asked by voters. Within that group, 40% of questions were about “Medicare for All.” Questions about the environment made up 7.5% of all the questions, with a two-thirds majority of those focused on climate change. Voters also frequently asked about candidates’ backgrounds, as well as immigration, foreign policy, and higher and public education.

Other topics were far less popular. Fewer than 1% of questions were about the possibility of a female president or about the national debt. How to pay for the candidates’ different plans was a focus of just 1% of all questions, as were queries about impeaching Trump or how to appeal to his voters. 

A full list of the questions is available at DemQuestionTracking2020.com.