Bolstering calls for President-elect Joe Biden to keep business insiders and industry lobbyists out of his Cabinet, new survey results reveal that 68% of Americans want members of the U.S. Senate to reject any corporate-linked nominees proposed by the incoming president.
The Data for Progress poll, sponsored by Demand Progress and first reported Tuesday by The Daily Poster, found that a majority of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents across all documented demographics agree about how the Senate should respond to such nominees.
The majority of likely voters surveyed believe that if Biden tries to install corporate executives and lobbyists in top positions of his administration, senators should vote against confirming them and urge the president-elect to "instead put forth nominees who have worked to forward the interests of everyday Americans.
NEWS: As investment banker Rahm Emanuel angles for a top White House job, a new poll shows that if Biden nominates corporate executives or lobbyists to Cabinet posts, 68% of Americans want Senate Democrats to vote to those nominees down. https://t.co/gfsivHoQqH
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) November 24, 2020
The polling, conducted after Election Day in November, has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. The results come as Biden continues to fill out his administration, with the president-elect having announced key appointments and Cabinet nominees in recent days.
Those selections have been met with mixed responses from progressives and others calling on Biden to forgo a "Corporate Cabinet" in favor of picking—in the words of Demand Progress executive director David Segal last week—"people dedicated to working in service of the general welfare."
As The Daily Poster noted, along with pushing Biden to "break with the Clinton and Obama administration tradition of installing corporate allies in key governmental positions," Demand Progress and the Revolving Door Project "are poll testing potential nominees, with descriptions of their backgrounds, to gauge potential public support and opposition for a Biden Cabinet."
For example, the new survey explains that Larry Fink "is the CEO of BlackRock, a financial firm which is the largest asset manager and the largest investor in the fossil fuel industry in the world," before asking whether respondents would support Biden appointing him to a Cabinet post. Sixty-six percent of those polled said they would somewhat or strongly oppose Fink.
The American Prospect reported Tuesday that Brian Deese, also of BlackRock, is under strong consideration to head Biden's National Economic Council. Half of survey respondents said they oppose Deese.
— Demand Progress (@demandprogress) November 24, 2020
The survey results were similar for Mark Gitenstein—"a corporate lobbyist who has pushed to undo regulations at the behest of large agribusinesses, insurance companies, Wall Street, and defense contractors"—as well as Tony James, Steve Ricchetti, and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo. All four of them are not only opposed by a majority of voters but also targets of the "No Corporate Cabinet" campaign.
Launched last week by Demand Progress, the Revolving Door Project, and other partner groups, the initiative has "Persons of Interest" webpage about potential appointees whom Biden "should avoid," according to organizers. The page features Fink, Gitenstein, James, Deese, Ricchetti, Raimondo, former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Jason Bordoff, Heather Zichal, and Bruce Reed.
The Daily Poster highlighted the corporate ties and progressive critiques of some selections Biden has already announced:
On Monday, Biden announced that he has chosen Tony Blinken to serve as Secretary of State. Blinken founded WestExec Advisors, a secretive business consultancy that has worked with defense contractors. Avril Haines, a former WestExec principal, will serve as Biden's Director of National Intelligence.
Biden is also reportedly considering nominating WestExec co-founder Michele Flournoy to serve as Secretary of Defense, as well as two corporate lawyers—Sally Yates and Karen Dunn—to serve as Attorney General and the head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, respectively.
Biden did appease some progressives with the nomination of former Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen to serve as his Treasury Secretary. Yellen would be a rare Treasury Secretary who didn't come straight from Wall Street, and she has supported deficit spending and tougher banking regulations, though she has also echoed some of the austerity rhetoric of groups aiming to cut Social Security and Medicare.
In the Data for Progress survey, a majority of respondents said they somewhat or strongly support Biden appointing Yellen to a Cabinet position and the Senate confirming her.
While the polling shows a bipartisan desire for lawmakers to block Biden from putting together a corporate Cabinet, control of the Senate remains uncertain. If Democrats were to win a pair of January runoff races in Georgia, the party would have 50 seats in the upper chamber, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris could break tie votes.