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Battleground Surveys
Impacting the White Electorate in Louisiana
Thursday, October 16 2014
Download this file (dcor LA stw graphs for release.pdf)Graphs[ ]1433 Kb
Download this file (DCorps Louisiana Release 101414 FQ.pdf)Frequency Questionnaire[ ]226 Kb

A new Democracy Corps survey of likely white voters in Louisiana shows that while Mary Landrieu is in a difficult position and most likely trailing slightly, the race can be moved and Landrieu has a path to achieving the level of white support that is required to win a runoff in Louisiana. 

As veterans of Louisiana politics know, white voters in Louisiana are a difficult block for Democrats.  The general rule of thumb for a winning Democrat is the “30-30 rule:” a Democrat can win the state if they earn 30 percent of the white vote and African Americans make up 30 percent of the electorate.  In an off-year electorate like this one, African Americans usually make up slightly under 30 percent of the electorate, meaning Landrieu will probably need to slightly exceed 30 percent of the white vote to win. 

This survey shows that while Landrieu is not yet where she needs to be on this front, with the right messaging she can get to where she needs to be.  Cassidy is relatively weak with this Republican-leaning electorate, and his support is very soft, leaving plenty of voters out there to add to Landrieu’s current 27 percent. 

And over the course of the survey, this is exactly what she does.  After a balanced simulated campaign in which voters hear a series of attacks on Landrieu and a set of comparative statements on her behalf, she gains 10 points among persuadable voters and 5 points overall, bringing her to 32 percent (with 6 percent still undecided) – a winning position. 


Key Findings. 

  • White electorate overwhelmingly Republican-leaning.  White likely voters in the state tilt toward the Republicans by 36 points on partisan self-identification and prefer a generic Democrat to a generic Republican by a 23 to 68 percent margin.  Not surprisingly, President Obama is quite unpopular with these voters.


  • Landrieu’s personal standing is aligned with partisanship but she overperforms a generic Democrat.  Cassidy’s support is very soft.  Landrieu is currently at 27 percent of the white vote in a runoff matchup with Cassidy, 4 points higher than a generic Democrat.  This would likely not be good enough to win were an election today.  However it is not far off, and Cassidy’s support is very soft, as almost half of his 69 percent of the vote are only weakly committed to him.


  • Cassidy strongly underperforming partisanship on favorability. Cassidy has slightly positive ratings, at +10, but considering these voters prefer a generic Republican by 45 points, those are soft numbers for a Republican. 


o   Landrieu’s standing more related to vote than Cassidy’s.  Regression analysis shows that Landrieu’s favorability ratings are far more correlated with the vote than Cassidy’s, suggesting that while negative communication against Cassidy can help Landrieu, boosting her own standing would have a greater impact. 


  • In a balanced simulated campaign matching attacks on Landrieu with comparatives in her favor, Landrieu gains 5 points, and moves to 32 percent.  In a split sample experiment, we matched a series of critiques on Landrieu with either a similar set of attacks on Cassidy or a set of comparative messages on Landrieu’s behalf.  Though Landrieu gained in both exercises, her gains in the comparative exercise were extremely strong.  She gained 10 points on her vote (and cut Cassidy’s margin by 23 points) among persuadable voters. This translates into a 5-point gain overall, bringing her final vote to 32 percent, which would be enough to win, even if she did not pick up any of the remaining 6 percent who are undecided. [1]


  • Strongest comparative is on women’s issues.  The strongest comparative between Landrieu and Cassidy centers on women’s issues – Landrieu’s support for equal pay, ending insurance discrimination and making college affordable versus Cassidy’s votes against equal pay, the Violence Against Women Act and preventative health care for women.


  • Strongest straight critiques of Cassidy are on veterans and secret money.  Though the comparative messages moved the vote further in Landrieu’s direction than the straight attacks on Cassidy, these were not without power either.  The strongest of these hit Cassidy for voting to cut veterans’ health care and a pay increase for the troops while pocketing pay raises for himself, as well as his support for the Supreme Court’s decision to allow corporate special interests to buy the election in return for politicians like Cassidy protecting their tax breaks. 

[1] Note, the messaging and revote in this survey was only asked of the 46 percent of the sample who were “persuadable” or not “absolutely certain” to vote for one of the two candidates in the two-way runoff vote.  

Tipping the Senate battleground states in the final month
Monday, October 06 2014

Tags: battleground | senate | wvwvaf

Download this file (dcor wv memo website 100614.pdf)Memo[ ]656 Kb
Download this file (WVWV graphs 100614 for web1.pdf)Graphs Pt. 1[ ]1855 Kb
Download this file (WVWV graphs 100614 for web2.pdf)Graph Pt. 2[ ]1209 Kb
Download this file (WVWV Web FQ 100514.pdf)Frequency Questionnaire[ ]236 Kb

For the first time in this election cycle, the WVWVAF-Democracy Corps Senate battleground shows a consistent move toward the Democrats across a broad range of indicators that suggest the Democrats are more likely to hold control of the U.S. Senate than not. This election is still on a knife-edge; the overall vote remains unchanged and many states are within a couple of points. But the underlying dynamics and key metrics have all moved away from the Republicans and some of these changes are dramatic. The context remains a battleground that Romney won by 8 points, though, Democrats are poised to hold on.

This is a unique and large scale survey for Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund. It includes a core battleground survey of 1,000 interviews and an additional 1,200 interviews conducted in the battleground states of North Carolina, Iowa, Georgia and Colorado. These surveys were completed on October 1 and were incorporated into the battleground.

The big story is that the Democratic campaigns have succeeded in making the candidates’ positions on women’s issues the second biggest reason voters are voting for the Democrat – after the economy, of course. At the same time, minority voters’ support for the Affordable Care Act has risen dramatically – and for them, the health care law has become the second largest factor in their vote.
The result is that those voting Democratic are as consolidated and as intent on voting as those voting for Republicans. That Republican advantage is now gone in the battleground.

A Democratic “in-your shoes” agenda for working women and men and strong populist message is beginning to become the dominant narrative, even in this very Republican battleground. But when Republicans are attacked on their opposition to equal pay and to women not being charged more for insurance, and when they are attacked on their use of unlimited secret money to keep taxes down for billionaires and CEOs, the race shifts from Republicans ahead by 2 points to Democrats ahead by 2. That gain is produced by even more gains among the Rising American Electorate, including unmarried women.

The reason why the battle has become less uphill is the improved position of the Democratic Party and Democratic incumbents, and the worsening standing of Republican candidates and Mitch McConnell. At the same time, the President’s approval rating has risen, and support for his handling of ISIS is strong. Support has risen for the Affordable Care Act. But perhaps as important, Republicans and conservative Republicans are not as strongly opposed to the President.

It all adds up to a final month where Democrats have the chance to take these gains a step further and hold on to their Senate majority.


“WVWVAF is a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization.  It participated in this survey to gather information about how to improve civic engagement of under-represented segments of the American population.”

Senate Battleground on a Knife-Edge, says our Bipartisan NPR Poll
Friday, October 03 2014

Tags: battleground | NPR | senate

Download this file (DCorps NPR 092414 FQ updated.pdf)Frequency Questionnaire[ ]185 Kb
Download this file (NPR graphs 093014.webversion.pdf)Graphs[ ]1565 Kb

Democracy Corps and Resurgent Republic conducted the latest bi-partisan NPR poll of the 12-state competitive Senate battleground.  This poll shows an incredibly stable race, but with emerging evidence to explain why Democratic incumbents and candidates are surprising people and keeping so many red-states very much in play.  The Democratic candidates have achieved a net positive job performance and a positive approval score 4 points above the President.  But the President too has seen his positive approval go up 3 points and he has a higher approval on handling ISIS.  Mitch McConnell is the most unpopular leader tested in the battleground and he is now as well-known as Harry Reid.

Most important, Democrats won the big message contrast tested for the first time in this NPR Senate battleground by 4 points – that is 7 points ahead of the margin in these seats.  It says the real message contest is tilting the seats toward Democrats.

That is apparent now in why people are voting for their candidates.  For Republicans, they are motivated by the economy, ISIS and foreign policy, and the new health care law.  Democrats are motivated by the economy, the candidates’ views on women’s issues and the new health care law.

Critically, the gap has closed on enthusiasm and intention to vote. Democratic and Republican voters are equally consolidate and determined to vote. 

Finally, the Republicans are being hurt by their approach to the Affordable Care Act. Only 42 percent are opposed to Obamacare because it is a big government solution and more spending.  With 10 percent in this conservative battleground looking for a government run, single-payer Canadian-style system, it is not surprising that the attacks on the Affordable Care Act are only for the base.  They have not hurt the Democratic candidates.

These races are on a knife-edge and have yet to break.  But they could.

Listen to the NPR story


An Idea Whose Time Has Come
Thursday, July 31 2014
Download this file (071614_DCOR_Senate_Battleground_FQ_EveryVoice.web.pdf)Frequency Questionnaire [ ]206 Kb
Download this file (dcor bg graphs 7212014 everyvoice final.pdf)Graphs[ ]1592 Kb
Download this file (dcor PCAF memo 07282014_FINAL.pdf)Memo[ ]376 Kb


Battling big money in the Senate battleground with real consequences for 2014

A new poll of the 12 states where control of the Senate is being contested, fielded by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Democracy Corps and Every Voice, a major new advocacy effort, shows that voters of all political persuasions are disgusted with the current campaign system and are ready for real reform – and they are ready to vote to get it.

Campaign reforms, from a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United to public matching funds for candidates that reject large donations, are widely popular ideas that actually move voters in these critical battleground states during a simulated-debate.
In the simulated debate (using the actual candidate names), Democrats supporting a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and a proposal to reduce the influence of big money in campaigns gain a net five points, with the gains concentrated among swing center-right groups.  Clearly, the debate around these issues puts Republicans squarely on the wrong side of public opinion.

Key findings:

  • There is an intensely Anti-Washington mood in the Senate battleground.
  • Voters are strongly negative towards Super PACs and believe spending in politics this year is worse than in the past and is very corrupting.


  • There is overwhelming cross-partisan support of a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United that can translate into added support for Democratic candidates who support the amendment and damage Republicans who oppose it.
  • Importantly, there is more than two-to-one support for plans to give public matching funds for small donations to candidates who reject big donations.  Support holds steady after balanced debate on the proposal that accuses the supporters of favoring “welfare for politicians” with taxpayer dollars.
  • Republican candidates supporting the RNC lawsuit to eliminate individual contribution limits put themselves in danger of losing support.
  • Engaging in a debate about money in politics, when it includes both a push to overturn Citizens United and the matching funds campaign finance proposal, moves the Senate Vote a net 5 points towards Democrats.  

Read the full memo

Economic Agenda for Working Women and Men: The Difference in the Senate Battleground?
Tuesday, July 22 2014

Tags: battleground; wvwv

Download this file (dcor bg graphs_Web Version_7212014.pdf)Graphs[ ]1299 Kb
Download this file (Dcorps July Senate BG Web Memo.pdf)Memo[ ]561 Kb
Download this file (DCOR_Senate_Battleground_Web fq_WVWV.pdf)Frequency Questionnaire[ ]74 Kb

A new poll of the 12 states where control of the Senate is being contested, fielded by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Democracy Corps and Women’s Voice Women Vote Action Fund, shows that control of the Senate rests on a knife’s edge, but that Democrats’ have a powerful weapon in a policy agenda and narrative centered around the needs of working women and men.  This survey, the first to poll in all 12 battleground states using a named ballot, reveals a 44-46 race in states that were won by Mitt Romney by 9 points just 2 years ago. 
This survey also shows that Democrats have a way to improve their fortunes.  They are currently being held back by a serious underperformance with unmarried women, who give them just an 11-point advantage on the vote.  But engaging in a populist economic debate and attacks on Republicans with a strong emphasis on women’s issues brings these critical voters back in the fold. It also may be the critical strategy in the open battleground Senate seats. 
An “in your shoes” populist narrative about people’s economic struggles, a policy agenda about finally helping mothers in the workplace and making sure those at the top are paying their fair share are issues, and, most important, a critique of Republicans for their polices that hurt seniors and women result in significant gains with unmarried women and other key electoral targets when matched against the Republican agenda and could prove the difference between majority or minority-leader Harry Reid come next January.

Read the full memo

See the graphs

Key findings:

  • Unmarried women are, perhaps, the most important target for Democrats across this senate battleground. 


  • The senate race in this battleground is tied and stable, with Democrats held back by underperformance among base RAE voters and unmarried women. 


  • The Democratic incumbents in this battleground are much better liked than Obama and have significantly higher ratings than their Republican opponents.  Their approval rating is 6 points above that for the president.


  • Two dynamics could shift this race: the president’s approval in these states is just 37 percent, but stable.  Meanwhile, the Republican Party, and particularly the Republicans in the House, is extremely unpopular.  And regressions show that sentiment about House Republicans drives the SENATE vote more strongly than sentiment about Senate Republicans. 


  • Democrats have a message that can move the vote.  A populist economic narrative, including strong messaging around the women’s economic agenda, moves the vote in Democrats’ favor when matched against a Republican economic narrative with big gains in the open-seat race and the state that Obama won in 2012. 


  • A critique of Republicans for their positions on seniors, women’s economic issues and women’s health are powerful and help move the vote among younger voters and women, as well as help move the vote in some of the most competitive races in the battleground.


  • And a debate about money in politics, particularly over a Constitutional Amendment to repeal Citizens United and a proposal to get big money out of our campaign system, results in further gains. 


  • Exposing unmarried women to the economic message shifts their support for Senate Democrats from +11 to +20.


  • The economic agenda for working women and men includes a cluster of powerful policies on helping working mothers, equal pay and equal health insurance, and making sure that the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share. 


  • Unmarried women are the pivotal group of the debate, as Democrats currently underperform even their 2010 margin significantly, but these voters move strongly in response to the debate. 


  • Voters in this Republican-leaning district are split on the electoral impact of the Republican candidate supporting the Hobby Lobby decision, but the issue provides an opening for Democrats to make a powerful critique on Republicans on the issue of women’s health.  The issue is very powerful with unmarried women and other key blocs of women.
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