Together with Populace, a think tank dedicated to building a world where all people have the chance to live fulfilling lives in a thriving society, we developed a landmark private opinion study to surface Americans’ ideal future for the country.
Using a choice-based conjoint experiment, respondents saw two hypothetical future Americas – with different values, policies, and achievements. We then asked 2,010 Americans to decide which vision of America comes closer to what they personally want America to be for future generations. Decisions were contingent on 55 features, espousing values like equality and economic opportunity, policies like criminal justice and investment in infrastructure, and national achievements like wealth and scientific progress.
Let’s lead with the warm and fuzzy (if not surprising) headline: regardless of demographics, Americans share stunning agreement on the long-term national values and priorities of the country. The aspirational America upholds a strong commitment to individual rights, enjoys high-quality healthcare, and addresses climate change. This vision does not differ between men or women; Black, White, or Brown; wealthy or middle class; educated or not. Let that sink in. Even amidst the hyperpolarized social and political landscape of today, Americans have more in common than AM radio and talking heads care to admit.
However, we cannot escape the stain of political partisanship. Biden and Trump voters prioritize different policy agendas. Trump voters unequivocally prioritize securing national borders and severely restricting immigration.
Though Biden voters do not want an America that is highly restrictive to immigration, they have a tepid interest in a future America open to immigration. In other words: Biden voters are not clamoring for open borders.
Biden voters care deeply about addressing climate change and preserving clean air, water, and land. And — surprisingly — their fervor is met with mild agreement among Trump voters.
In spite of their differences, Biden and Trump voters share an aspirational image of America and a sense of urgency across five key policies: healthcare, keeping communities safe, helping the middle class, modernizing infrastructure, and criminal justice reform. Okay, Congress you know what you need to do – it doesn’t even require Manchin crossing the picket line to abolish the filibuster.
Want to learn more about the American Aspiration Index? Check out the full report on Populace’s website.