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Battleground Surveys
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.
Next phase in battle for the House battleground
Monday, May 05 2014

Next phase in battle for the House battleground

Last week, we released a new survey of the 50 most competitive Republican House seats and the 36 most competitive Democratic House seats and found anti-incumbent sentiment is high and cuts across both parties. Democrats have made important gains on implementing the Affordable Care Act, but the vote remains evenly split in the Democratic battleground. Republican incumbents have edged up  in the most competitive districts this year, but they are below 50 percent, tethered to their unpopular party brand and still vulnerable. 
The data tells us that Democratic incumbents and challengers get to their most competitive position by turning to "Speaker John Boehner and his policies that have hurt the economy and done nothing about jobs" and then putting the spotlight on Democrats’ economic agenda, which includes education and the women’s economic agenda.  Such a shift, along with an aggressive effort targeted toward unmarried women, are Democrats’ best strategy for exploiting Republican vulnerabilities and establishing a persuasive dynamic in 2014.

Read our strategy memo here.

Defining Position for Efforts to Reduce Influence of Money in Politics
Friday, May 02 2014

New battleground survey shows sustainable support for proposals to reduce influence of money in politics

The most recent battleground survey conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Democracy Corps and Public Campaign Action Fund fielded just one week after the Supreme Court handed down its decision in McCutcheon v. FEC.  This survey of the 50 most competitive Republican districts and 36 most competitive Democratic districts finds that voters from both parties and all demographic groups are angered by the influence of big money and remain strongly supportive of efforts to reduce the influence of money in politics.

Across the battleground, voters are deeply discouraged with the direction of the country.  Just a quarter (25 percent) say the country is headed in the right direction; two thirds (67 percent) say we are off on the wrong track.  Voters in both Democratic and Republican districts give their incumbents low job approval ratings and they give even lower ratings for the parties in Congress.

This context shapes voters’ serious support for efforts to reform the influence of money in politics—even when they are exposed to negative information about reform proposals. 

Incumbents from both parties would do well to champion bold reforms like those laid out in this survey as part of a campaign against the status quo in Washington.  These are vulnerable incumbents in the most unpopular of partisan institutions.  Embracing reform and transparency offers them a way to campaign against Washington.




Battleground voters more positive on Affordable Care Act and GOP likely hurt by repeal focus, starting with independents
Monday, April 28 2014
Download this file (041514_DcorpsBG_Total_FQ.web.pdf)Frequency Questionnaire [ ]261 Kb
Download this file (DCorps April BG Graphs FINAL [Read-Only].pdf)Graphs [ ]1265 Kb

Best Democratic strategy for base turnout and vote in 2014 includes ACA but overwhelmingly focuses on economic choice 
This poll in the House battleground shows all of the major indicators largely unchanged since our last battleground poll in December when the country was pretty unhappy with the state of things.  The anti-incumbent mood, Republican brand problems, President’s approval rating, and the congressional vote are all largely unchanged.
But one big thing has changed – and that is the views of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.  Across all of the battleground districts, support has increased on all three tracking measures—and this is particularly true in the Republican-held seats.  There have been big shifts on wanting to implement and fix the law and big drops in intensity for those who want to repeal and replace the law.  This is one of the most significant changes we have seen in tracking in the battleground — and Republicans already have a lot of explaining to do.
What is really striking is that this change is overwhelmingly driven by   Independents.  In our last battleground survey in December, independents favored repeal by a 12-point margin; they now support implementation by 7 points.


 Independents on the ACA


This support has grown in both size and intensity among college-educated women and unmarried women.
The drop in intensity on the opposition/repeal side risks the GOP’s off-year turnout strategy – and indeed, in the Republican seats, the continued focus on ACA produces a somewhat lower turnout of base Republicans.  In any case, by continuing to focus on the ACA, Republicans are emphasizing their weakest message according to this battleground poll. 
The shift against repeal and opposition has just kicked in, but could begin to erode the Republican vote in the months ahead.
This fourth battleground poll of the election cycle is based on interviews with 1,200 respondents in 35 incumbent Democratic seats and 50 Republican seats; these are interviews with actual off-year voters, reflecting off-year demographics, using a named ballot in each district.  But this survey included a unique experiment to see the impact when Democratic incumbents emphasized or de-emphasized the Affordable Care Act in their positive and negative campaigns.  We assess the impact on both the vote and base turnout.
Unmarried women are the key target because they could be 20 to 25 percent of the electorate – and this poll reveals their limited interested in voting, as well as diminished levels of support for Democrats.
The survey, the experiment, and the regression models remind us that this economy remains tough, and that is the strongest framework for attacking Republicans and the strongest motivator for Democratic base voters to vote.  Health care messages are important to Democrats’ success, but messages with an economic agenda at the center are strongest. .
The strongest framework for Democrats in challenging the Republican incumbents and in fending off Republican challengers is their support for “Speaker John Boehner and his policies that have hurt the economy and done nothing about jobs.”  Half (50 percent) say that their incumbent “may be okay” but they would not vote to reelect because he or she supports the Speaker and the policies that produced gridlock and damaged the economy, and his priorities do not include getting to work on jobs.
That framework takes advantage of the terrible brand position of John Boehner and the Republicans in the House.  What is so striking is how much more powerful is this framework than a parallel test with Medicare and taxes.  Democrats need to be focused on the Speaker and the economy.   



The strongest Democratic messages in the simulated campaign and the regression modeling begin with the economic agenda tested here:
Everyone in Washington is fighting instead of focusing on jobs and jobs that pay enough to live on. We should raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, make sure women get equal pay for equal work, make job training and college more affordable, stop tax breaks for companies that export jobs… 
The strongest messages also include education and fixing the health care law, while keeping the insurance companies out, as well as support for specific health care reforms.  Nevertheless, it is critical for voters to understand first that Democrats are focused on jobs that pay enough to live on, while Speaker Boehner and Republicans in Congress have hurt the economy and done nothing about jobs.
The experiment will show that base voter turnout is higher with an economic focus, though health care messages and attacks remain critically important to the our message strategy. They also play a targeted role with college educated and unmarried women.  

Revolt Against Congress: Game On
Thursday, December 12 2013
Download this file (120813_DcorpsBG_FQ.pdf)FQ[ ]267 Kb
Download this file (dc bg memo 121213 final.pdf)Memo[ ]713 Kb
Download this file (dcor bg graphs 121213 final.pdf)Graphs[ ]1843 Kb

Key Points:

This poll is in the congressional battleground looking at named incumbents and is virtually the only window into what is really happening.  Appreciate the attention this has gotten.

  • Yes, the health care roll-out and reduced presidential standing has hurt Democrats, but keep it in perspective:

o   Voters evenly divided on this issue; the big debate ends in a draw.  Not a wedge issue.

o   Majority want to implement in Dem districts and plurality in Republican

o   It is hurting the GOP image and re-enforcing that members are part of partisan battle

o   Keeps Republicans on their weakest case for their role

o   Setting up strong Democratic attack on Speaker Boehner’s failure to focus on economy and jobs

o   Gives Democrats opportunity to use to reach affected groups, particularly unmarried women

  • The big structural forces that leave the Tea Party Republican brand deeply tarnished are undiminished:

o   All incumbents damaged but Republicans even more so

o   Republicans at lowest point ever on all key metrics — compared to any prior election

o   Democrats have continuing brand advantage in these districts

o   Want members to work with Obama, not to keep stopping agenda

o   Serious plurality now ready to vote against member because they support Speaker Boehner and the impact on economy and jobs.

  • The vote is stable in the named ballot, but Republicans have weakened in the 2nd tier of less competitive seats — possibly indicative of growing vulnerability
  • Democratic members feeling heat but a touch stronger, a majority want to implement and very positive response to their health care fix messages
  • There is now a singular message framework from this work: “Now is the time to vote out GOP incumbents for supporting Speaker Boehner whose policies have hurt the economy and done nothing about jobs”
  • Two big demographic dynamics that will determine what happens:

o   Seniors.  Republicans trail their challenger among seniors in the Republican districts.

o   Unmarried women.  If they turn out and vote as in 2012 and in Virginia in 2013, Democrats make major gains.  They are underperforming now at 52 percent in Republican districts, but shift 9 points after health care debate and the race overall moves to even.  That puts one-half of these 50 seats really at risk.

  • Women’s economic agenda at the center


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