On a mission to save democracy

7 Dec 2018

Last week, former prime minister John Howard played down the Liberal Party’s hammering in the Victorian election by describing the state as “the Massachusetts of Australia.”

In the American parlance, Massachusetts is a deep Democrat blue. It was the only state not to vote for Richard Nixon in his landslide re-election victory in 1972 (a fact that, with the benefit of hindsight, might reflect uniquely good judgement). When American think tank Data for Progress modelled state-by-state support for progressive policy ideas using a combination of polling and demographic data Massachusetts unsurprisingly polled well. Support for policies like a federal jobs guarantee for all Americans, extending public healthcare to cover all citizens rather than just over sixty-fives, and paid family leave to cover childbirth and medical emergencies runs between 60 and 70 per cent.

The interesting thing isn’t that Massachusetts supports these ideas — it’s that Massachusetts is far from alone. “Medicare for all” registers majority support in a total of forty-two states, including Texas, Florida, Ohio and Indiana. Expanded family leave is supported in all but one — Wyoming (where support runs to 48 per cent). And the biggest idea, a federal jobs guarantee, is stunningly popular, with majority support in every state, from “ruby red” West Virginia (62 per cent) to California and New York (71 per cent).

Victorians do support big-picture policies but, like their counterparts in Massachusetts, this doesn’t make them outliers — they are both in good company.

Read the full article on Inside Story.

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