Pennsylvania's delegation to the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia rate income inequality as the most important issue facing the nation. They also are concerned over who will be appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States. Development of alternate energy resources along with jobs and the economy also rate among the delegation's highest concerns.
The Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research's quadrennial survey of the Democratic delegates/alternate delegates found a focus on domestic issues with little interest on foreign affairs. In fact, not one respondent listed foreign affairs as a sole factor in determining which candidate they would support. Less than a quarter ranked foreign affairs as a very important set of issues, although a third did say ISIS/terrorism are a top concern. Most, 62% said they used a combination of economic issues, social issues and foreign affairs in deciding on a candidate.
The lack of focus on foreign affairs could be because the delegates are generally satisfied with President Obama's foreign policies. Half said his policies have made the United States more secure. Only 5% think the nation is somewhat less secure. As for the threat of ISIS/international terrorism 90% say the president's policies are on the right track. Ninety-five percent of the delegation says current laws are sufficient to deal with the threat of ISIS/terrorism. Five percent think the U.S. should ban entry of people from countries that are hotbeds of terrorist activities. Not a single delegate supports Donald Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the United States.
Eighty-three percent of Pennsylvania's delegation to the Democratic National Convention also feels the U.S. economy is general on the right track. For the economic ills that do exist, 76% place the blame on corporate America and 67% blame the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress. The delegation is divided on whether or not tax rates should be lowered to stimulate economic growth. Forty-eight percent support lowering tax rates, 52% would oppose such measures. When it comes to balancing the federal budget 79% favor a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts. Another 20% would balance the budget only through the enactment of higher taxes.
There is concern among the delegates and alternate delegates over the health of the nation's Social Security system. Two thirds say that Social Security will survive for future generations only with substantial changes. A third said the system will stay secure even with no changes.
The delegation is split over the issue of free trade policies. President Obama is the driving force behind the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Hillary Clinton opposes the deal. Fifty-nine percent oppose TPP, while 41% are in support of the treaty.
On the topic of providing for the nation's energy needs, 98% support the development of alternate fuel sources, 69% see conservation as a solution. Seventeen percent would like to see more domestic drilling and 2% favor the importation of more foreign oil.
When it comes to dealing with illegal immigrants, 46% of the Democratic delegates/alternate delegates support granting permanent worker status to illegals; 29% would grant full citizenship rights. None of the delegates/alternate delegates support immediate deportation.
The delegation is divided on the impact of the federal government. Fifty-two percent say the federal government is primarily a positive force when it comes to solving problems, 48% say the federal government is an adversarial force. When asked if they believe in natural rights, that our basic rights as Americans are God-given, 38% agree while 62% say our rights are granted to us by government.
Among the delegates/alternate delegates responding to the Lincoln Institute survey, 90% say the property tax-based system currently utilized by school districts, local and county government to fund services are unfair. Only ten percent view the system as fair and equitable to most segments of their community. There is little agreement, however on what taxes should replace the property tax. The highest percentage — 35% — support a higher state income tax; 30% would like to see a combination of local sales and earned income taxes; 24% a higher state sales tax rate.
In terms of the state budget, 57% think that cost drivers like pension reform should be addressed by the general assembly before it considers any tax increases; 42% disagree. Generally speaking, 56% of the delegation thinks Pennsylvania's personal state income tax rates are at about the right levels. Thirty percent say state income taxes are too low and 15% say they are too high. A little more than half of the respondents say business taxes in the commonwealth are at about the right levels, the balance view them as being too low. When it comes to economic development, 69% of the delegates/alternate delegates support current state policy of borrowing money and then helping to finance select businesses. The rest support cutting business taxes and regulations.
On labor issues, the Pennsylvania delegation to the 2016 Democratic National Convention voiced strong opposition to a right to work law. Such a law would make it illegal for a worker to be fired or kept from having a job for either joining or not joining a labor union. Seventy-two percent oppose a right to work law, while 19% voiced support. The delegation also strongly opposes any law that would ban public school teachers from going on strike. Eighty-one percent would oppose such a law. Two thirds of the delegates also oppose making vouchers or grants available to students who wish to attend a public school in a district other than their own.
Pennsylvania's delegation to the Democratic National Convention is populated by individuals who consider themselves to be on the liberal/progressive side of the political spectrum. Forty-two percent label themselves as very liberal/progressive; 42% say they are somewhat liberal/progressive. The balance said they are moderates. Nobody adopted the conservative label.
The Democratic delegation is balanced by gender with 52% being male and 48% female. It is also diverse by age and tilts to the younger demographics with 22% being under the age of 30; 27% between the ages of 30-50; 37% in the 50-65 age range and 12% over the age of 65.
The Lincoln Institute survey of delegates and alternate delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention was conducted electronically between July 15th and July 21st. A total of 44 delegates/alternate delegates participated in the poll. Complete numeric results are available on-line here.