Future of the Democratic Party

Some of our recent work on this vital topic:

Democrats Need To Have A Big Conversation About Trade, Simon Rosenberg, 5/16/18, Medium. Recent Pew polls show Democratic voters are overwhelmingly supportive of free trade. Simon takes a look at what this means for the Party.

In wide-open 2020 presidential field, Democrats are road-testing messages — and trying to redefine their party, Michael Scherer, 5/12/18, The Washington Post. Simon weighs in on the trajectory of the Democratic Party.

The Eroding GOP Resistance to Trump's Immigration Agenda, Ronald Brownstein, 5/9/18, The Atlantic. Simon offers some thoughts on the GOP's approach to immigration policies.

Trump is a disaster, and that's helping Democrats. But not how you think, Greg Sargent, 5/8/18, The Washington Post. Simon discusses the topics the GOP and Democrats have chosen to run on in 2018.

Young Voters a Huge Opportunity for Democrats in 2018, Simon Rosenberg, 4/10/18, Medium. It is hard to overstate what a huge opportunity young voters are for Democrats this election cycle.

The Trump effect: A lot of veterans are running as Democrats, Greg Sargent, 3/29/18, The Washington Post. Simon discusses the transformation of the Democratic Party away from older leaders towards a newer generation of civic-minded millennial would-be public servants. 

In 2020, Julián Castro could be one of 30 or more Democratic presidential candidates, Bill Lamrecht, 11/11/17, San Antonio Express-News. Simon offers some thoughts on the 2020 presidential candidate field.

The state of the Democratic party - it's not all bleak - with NDN's Simon Rosenberg, Nathaniel Pearlman, 10/20/17, The Great Battlefield podcast. Simon joined the Great Battlefield to talk about his long experience in Democratic politics and why he is bullish about the party's future.

Democrats rising? Early statehouse wins test new faces, Letitia Stein, 10/12/17, Reuters. Simon offers some thoughts on the recruitment of candidatesand the modernization of campaigns.

The Democrats' Pipeline Problem, Ronald Brownstein, 10/12/17, The Atlantic. Simon discusses the need for Democrats to turn the generational wheel.

Make ACA Sign-Ups an Annual Civic Ritual, Simon Rosenberg, 10/6/17, US News & World Report. Simon makes the case that our nation's elected officials and other responsible community leaders should make signing people up for health insurance an annual event, helping blunt Trump's malevolent cuts in marketing the ACA. 

Democrats Tiptoe Around Universal Basic Income, Haley Byrd, 10/2/17, Independent Journal Review. Simon offers some thoughts on the debates within the Democratic Party and predicts the ongoing experimentation will lead to the birth of a new Democratic Party.

What Do Centrist Democrats Even Stand For? Graham Vyse, 9/18/17, The New Republic. Simon discusses the undergoing changes of what it means to be a Democrat.

With anti-'Dreamer' base outraged, Trump keeps adding to the confusion, Joe Garofoli and Hamed Aleaziz, 9/14/17, San Francisco Chronicle. Simon considers the consequences GOP House members face with their decision on DACA and introduces the term Latin belt.

Democrats Must Take a Shot at Texas, Francis Wilkinson, 9/12/17, Bloomberg. Simon argues that Trump's politics are not playing well in Texas, and Democrats should take this opportunity to invest in Texas for 2018 and 2020.

Democratic infighting between establishment, progressives sweeping country, John Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/2/2017. Simon discusses the importance of the current policy debates to the growth and future of the Democratic Party.

Veterans lining up for the Democrats in congressional races, Bill Lambrecht, San Antonio Express-News, 7/17/17. Simon offers up some thoughts on patriotism, love of country and Democrats in 2018.

Despite Georgia loss, Texas Democrats confident about next year, Bill Lambrecht, San Antonio Express-News, 6/25/17. Simon offers some thoughts on the debate around the Democratic Party's message and 2018.

The Case for Optimism: Rejecting Trump's Poisonous Pessimism, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 6/2/17. In an essay that original was published on Medium, Simon argues that the great rationale of Trump's Presidency - that America is in decline - simply isn't true, and must be challenged more forcefully. 

"No Normal Time" - A Special Note from Simon, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 5/8/17. These are not normal political times in Washington.  And it is critical we do not allow them to feel normal or routine.  Some thoughts.

Video: Simon joins Fernand Amandi, Roger Stone on Trump's first 100 days, NDN.org, 5/1/17. Simon and Roger Stone participated in a Florida townhall hosted by Fernand Amandi. 

Backgrounder: Budget, Taxes and the US Economy, Chris Murphy, NDN.org, 4/26/17. With attention returning to budgets and the US economy, we've put together some of our recent work on these important matters.  

Democrats should put Russia, corruption and tax returns on agenda w/Trump, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 4/20/17. In coming neogtiations with Trump on the budget, debt ceiling and more, Democrats should put Russia, corruption and tax returns/public audit on the agenda too.  

Memo: In A New Global Age, Democrats Have Been Far Better for the US Economy, Deficits, and Incomes, Chris Murphy and Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 2/27/17.  In a new memo NDN finds that over the past generation of American politics Democrats have been far better for the economy, deficits and incomes. 

A Strategy for Confronting Trump, Restoring Democratic Norms, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 1/31/17.  To counter Trump Democrats will have to be patriots not partisans.  In his new US News column Simon offers a strategy for how to draw lines and challenge a man acting far more like a dictator than an American President.

Chin Up, Democrats, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 1/20/17.  In his recent column, Simon argues that Democrats should have pride in their historic accomplishments and optimism about the future of their politics.

Rediscovering the Democrats' North Star, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 12/9/16.  In his recent column, Simon offers some thoughts on the path forward.

A New Generation of Democrats Will Have to Rise – NDN's Post Election Memo, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 11/9/16.  It is time for a more purposeful handoff from Boomer Democrats to the next generation who will have to lead the party in the years ahead.

Prior to the 2016 Election

Memo: 2016 Through A Millennial Lens – Some Initial Thoughts, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 11/4/16.  One of the more dramatic and potentially disruptive demographic developments in recent American politics has been the explosion of Millennials into the American electorate.

Report: In A New Global Age, Democrats Have Been Far Better for the US Economy, Deficits and Incomes, Simon Rosenberg and Chris Murphy, NDN.org, 9/13/16.  Our report finds that since Communism fell, and the world changed, Democrats have been far better stewards of the economy than Republicans.

Report: Presidential Primary Debates, Simon Rosenberg and Chris Murphy, NDN.org, 5/25/16.  This memo looks at the audiences the Presidential Primary debates received in 2016 and 2008.

A Wake Up Call For Democrats - Simon's 2014 Post-Election Memo, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 11/7/14.  Republicans have made substantial gains in recent years, and are a much stronger national party.  Democrats have a lot of work to do to compete and win against a resurgent GOP.

Report: Presidential Primary Debate Audiences

This memo looks at the audiences the Presidential Primary debates received in 2016 and 2008.  The Republicans have completed their full 12 debate schedule for the 2015-2016 cycle.  We now have the final numbers for the debate audiences for the Democrats and Republicans.  The top line analysis can be found below, and tables of the audiences of each debate which received ratings in both 2016 and 2008 can be found on pages 4 and 5 of the full memo, attached (at bottom).  More information about the debate over the 2016 debates can be found in our backgrounder (Updated on Wednesday 5/25/16).  


2016, Republicans – 12 debates, 186.3m total viewers, 15.53m viewers per debate.   

2016, Democrats – 9 debates, 72.03m total viewers, 8m viewers per debate. 

2008, Republicans – 14 debates, 42.87m total viewers, 3.07m viewers per debate.

2008, Democrats – 16 debates, 75.22m total viewers, 4.7m viewers per debate (Dems had another 10 debates which were not rated, so total viewership was higher than 75.22m).

Key Findings

GOP Dramatically Outperforms Dems in 2016 and Rs in 2008 – In 2008, the 16 Democratic debates outperformed the 14 GOP debates by more than 53% per debate (4.7m per debate vs 3.07m).  In 2016, the 12 GOP debates have outperformed the 9 Democratic debates by a much larger margin, over 94% per debate (15.53m vs 8m).  It is a dramatic reversal. 

The 12 GOP debates have produced more than 5 times the audience per debate than their 14 debates produced in 2008, and almost 5 times the total audience.  The 9 DNC debates produced almost twice the audience per debate that the 2008 debates produced, but, in aggregate, produced a total audience 3 million less than the 2008 debates produced.  

Democratic Debate Schedule Struggles to Match 2008 – Despite very large audiences for the debates this cycle, the smaller number of Democratic debates (9 compared to 12 GOP in 2016 and 26 in 2008) means that the total audience of the Democratic debates in 2016 was 3 million less than the 2008 Democratic total, and 114m less than the 2016 GOP total.

DNC’s Original Debate Schedule Audience – The DNC’s original six debate schedule produced an audience of 48.4m.  After requests from many, including the Clinton and Sanders campaigns, the DNC added four debates on February 3rd.  The DNC also smartly brought in CNN to augment its PBS and Univision debates.  These improvements in the schedule brought an additional 24m viewers, 8m from the CNN re-broadcasts and 16m from the three additional debates conducted so far.  Augmenting the original schedule increased the overall Democratic debate audience by 50%. 

The Townhalls – While the audiences for the CNN town halls were not significant, the formats were.  Each of these programs gave viewers a window into the candidate the more rigid debate formats have not.  They have been an important innovation this cycle by the DNC, and in coming years should be given more prominence.  Our guess is if adequately promoted with more time, viewership for these town halls could be far more significant.  


Audience Per Debate



Total Audience


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