WASHINGTON – Republicans have an “extraordinary opportunity” to win the presidency in 2016 if their nominee has a clear message that the GOP’s economic policies with their focus on lower taxes, less government regulation and fewer entitlement programs will increase financial mobility for middle class voters, according to polling data released by the Ripon Society on Thursday.

Veteran Republican pollster and strategist Ed Goeas’ firm conducted the survey of 1,000 likely voters for the Ripon Society, a center-right public policy organization founded in 1962.

“It is critical that Republicans put forward a positive agenda this year so people have something to vote for, and not against,” Ripon Society President Jim Conzelman said. “By conducting this nationwide survey, our goal is to not only get a better sense of the issues that Americans are concerned about, but a better idea of how Congress and the president can address these concerns and make a difference in their lives.”

The survey found that 70 percent of voters identified themselves as middle class, which Goeas said has held true throughout his 20 years in polling.

“And this presidential race is going to get to a point, after the nominations are over, when both parties are going to turn toward the middle class,” Goeas said.

The survey data suggest that voters are dissatisfied – 70 percent said they believe the country is on the “wrong track” – but also show that 60 percent of middle class voters said they don’t trust the government to solve a major problem.

Goeas said statistics like these suggest that most middle class Americans are in line with the conservative fiscal message of the Republican Party, but the GOP doesn’t communicate its message well.

“The Democrats don’t beat us on the issues,” he said. “They beat us on our intentions.”

Goeas explained that Democrats have succeeded in derailing the Republican message by painting the GOP as the defenders of the rich. But he praised House Speaker Paul Ryan for framing the economic goal of his speakership as a fight to create greater upward mobility.

That’s a message the country can support, according to the Ripon Society’s poll. Nearly 80 percent of the middle class voters said they agreed that “government economic and fiscal policies should focus on ways to improve upward economic mobility.”
The Ripon Society’s report concludes that “winning the strong support of [middle class] voters will ensure a presidential victory…and the road to winning with middle class voters runs through convincing them of your intention to make economic mobility a real possibility.”