Dominick Reuter / Reuters

Last week, a registered Democrat I know received a letter from the Democratic National Committee containing an “official 2019 Democratic Party survey.”

The mailer poses questions about the relative importance of issues.

Since it concludes by soliciting a donation and uses lots of loaded language (Are you bothered by Donald Trump’s “reckless and dangerous foreign policy positions”?), I gathered that it aims less at gauging opinion than at garnering donations. A spokesperson for the DNC told me, “It’s not written as a pollster would write a question,” explaining that “it’s meant to be an engaging survey that reaches our supporters across the country. We want to make it so that people get excited and want to engage when they receive a mailer from us.”

So think of it as a window into the issues and language that the DNC regards as likely to arouse the passions of Democrats as the 2020 election cycle begins.

Among the questions, this one perhaps best hints at messages that the DNC is pondering:

As we head in to 2019 and 2020, what electoral issues and messages do you believe should be the highest priorities for candidates running for office? (please choose three)

  • Building an economy that works for everyone, not just CEOs and corporations
  • Becoming a global leader in clean energy and building a clean energy economy
  • Creating good-paying jobs and fostering a manufacturing renaissance
  • Strengthening and protecting our public schools
  • Providing tax cuts for the middle class and ensuring the wealthy pay their fair share
  • Making investments in America’s infrastructure (highways, bridges, schools)
  • Increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour
  • Passing a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United
  • Protecting the ACA and securing universal health care
  • Reducing the cost of prescription drugs
  • Closing tax loopholes for special interests and fighting Wall Street greed
  • Making debt-free college a reality
  • Developing a smart, sensible immigration system and protecting immigrants’ rights

While this question perhaps best captures attacks that the DNC is considering:

Which Republican policies do you find most troubling (please choose four)

  • The repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)
  • The ban against immigrants from Muslim-majority countries
  • The deportation of law-abiding immigrants and the building of a border wall
  • A federal budget that cuts funding for Medicaid, education and other programs that help working families and seniors
  • Defunding public schools and creating “voucher” programs for private schools
  • Attacks on the civil rights of LGBTQ Americans
  • Dismantling of EPA regulations that protect our clean air and water
  • Tax cuts that benefit corporations, billionaires, and millionaires and attacking unions to enrich their wealthy friends at the expense of working people
  • Opposition to commonsense gun safety measures
  • Loosening restrictions on Wall Street and big banks
  • I am not troubled by the policies of the Republican Party

The survey goes on to ask:

Which aspects of the Trump presidency do you find most disturbing? (please choose four)

  • His erratic temperament and judgment
  • His attacks on women
  • His reckless and dangerous foreign policy positions
  • His admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin and refusal to recognize Russian meddling in our elections
  • His offensive and hateful rhetoric
  • His dangerous rhetoric on North Korea
  • His opposition to women’s reproductive freedom
  • His decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord and dismissal of climate science
  • His refusal to release his tax returns and eliminate conflicts of interest
  • His efforts to repeal Obamacare
  • I don’t find the Trump presidency disturbing

Again, it’s difficult to believe that the relative salience of these matters can be determined from survey questions loaded up with pejorative, question-begging adjectives. But whatever the mailer’s purpose, this is what the DNC has sent out.

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