Memo: Further Insights from Project 2020

Blog Articles · May 15, 2020

Download a PDF version HERE.


Project 2020 is Heritage Action's grassroots effort to directly counter the left's policy foothold on swing voters. In January 2020, we developed an advanced data model to identify swing, persuadable voters in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Iowa. Project 2020 launched on April 1 with a phone banking campaign designed to uncover swing voters' attitudes regarding the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 and critical policy issues like jobs, immigration, the economy and culture.

Since April 1, we have called over 950,000 households, focusing on two groups of swing voters:

  • Low-propensity Trump voters—voters who likely approve of President Trump but are unlikely to vote based on their election histories.
  • Suburban swing voters—likely voters who are persuadable and live along the beltways of metropolitan areas.

Swing Voter Summary

Of the 22,006 survey respondents:

  • 50% identify as conservative
  • 26% identify as moderate
  • 8% identify as liberal
  • 15% declined to answer

Swing voters approve of the President's handling of the crisis. They're also open to conservative solutions for the pandemic and beyond.

In recent weeks it has become clear that, in addition to health concerns, swing voters are concerned about the economic impact of the coronavirus. Also, they are noticing our country's reliance on China and have expressed a desire to bolster American manufacturing of essential items. This shift in focus to the reopening of business and ending our dependence on China represents a critical moment for the nation.

President Trump and Coronavirus

Suburban swing voters and low-propensity Trump voters overwhelmingly approve of Trump's handling of the COVID crisis (63% approve to 25% disapprove). That pattern has held each week we conducted the survey and does not vary substantially between the four states.

Empowering the Private Sector

In the face of record-high unemployment resulting from the COVID-19 crisis, Americans are eager to get back to work. While government checks to individuals might appear attractive to voters, the swing voters we surveyed prefer to rely on businesses to fix the economy (48%) instead of depending on government checks (17%) by over 30 points.

The gap between the preferences has widened week-over-week. In the first week of our survey, “reopening businesses” led “government checks” by 22 points while in this past week, “reopening businesses” led “government checks” by 35 points. As the threat of COVID-19 recedes, government checks become more unpopular. Democrats have dug their heels into mailing checks instead of letting businesses reopen. This position is largely unpopular with swing voters and will only decrease in popularity with time.

China and Supply Chains

In the first months of the COVID-19 crisis, America was met with shortages in medical and personal protective equipment "PPE" due to the intentional withholding of supplies from China, exposing America’s overreliance on Chinese goods and manufacturing.

A vast majority (72%) of swing voters support bringing manufacturing back home to end our reliance on Chinese and foreign factories for essential supplies such as masks and medication.

Getting Tough on China

In addition to manufacturing, swing voters are concerned with China's geopolitical influence, propaganda, and handling of COVID-19. Lawmakers and citizens alike have called for a response to China that might entail retaliation or at least reduced cooperation.

In light of this ongoing debate, we told swing voters, "Some say that if America gets tough on China, China will retaliate by raising prices on goods and hurt American consumers and farmers." Then we asked, "Knowing this, would you still support America getting tough on China or continuing America's current level of cooperation with China?"

Out of 10,876 responses, 57% supported "getting tough on China," while only 18% said we should “cooperate with China,” 16% were undecided, and 9% did not answer.

For Decision Makers

Opening American society and allowing people to return to work is the best way to get our economy buzzing again and return to economic strength.

Furthermore, the American people have made clear that the federal government should prioritize reopening the economy instead of further subsidies. It is clear Speaker Pelosi and other liberal proposals to limit business in favor of payments from the government is out of step with swing voters and the conservative base. In the process of reviving our nation's economy, public policy should also seek to hold China accountable on the global stage and create opportunities for manufacturing to thrive in America.