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Battleground Surveys
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


Revolt Against Washington and Corrupted Politics
Thursday, November 07 2013
Download this file (Money in Politics Graph.pdf)Graphs[ ]1231 Kb
Download this file (Money in Politics Memo.pdf)Memo[ ]916 Kb

Partisanship drives most issues these days, but concern over the influence of money-in-politics is one of the few areas with the power to breakthrough the otherwise divisive national conversation in top battleground districts, according to new polling released today by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Public Campaign Action Fund.

“People of all backgrounds agree that Congress too often works for moneyed interests and against regular people,” said David Donnelly, executive director of Public Campaign Action Fund. “In next year’s most competitive districts, voters will reward politicians – regardless of political party – who take action to reform our broken campaign finance system.”
“Nobody likes Washington these days, but one issue that crosses partisan lines is money-in-politics, specifically, how do we fix our broken democracy,” said Stan Greenberg, president of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. “Candidates in these competitive districts should pay attention.”

Key Findings:

  • This is an intensely anti-Washington period.  Voters’ optimism about the country direction and about their leaders in Washington has plummeted amid the backdrop of almost total dysfunction.  Voters are angry with the Congress at the center of the storm.


  •  Voters do not believe that either party is capable of cleaning up the mess in Washington.    When asked which party would do a better job “cleaning up the mess in Washington,” one in three battleground voters (28 percent) say neither—a striking number for a volunteered answer (an option not offered to respondents).  This creates a clear opening for those willing to run against the current system.


  • There are opportunities for both Democrats and Republicans to seize on reform. Voters believe Democrats are better than Republicans at “putting the people’s interests ahead of big moneyed interests,” but Republicans could set themselves apart from increasingly unpopular Congressional leadership.


  • There is no downside for either party to grab onto this issue and make it central to their campaigns.   Voters register almost no negative response to reform efforts—even those that would require significant public contributions to political campaigns.


  • And they strongly support serious and bold reforms.  A plan to replace the current system with one in which candidates would receive small donations with matched public funding receives broad support across districts.  And some of the strongest supporters are swing voters—the ones both parties will target in their campaigns next fall.

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner conducted a national survey of a unique survey of 1,250 likely 2014 voters in the most competitive Democratic and Republican Congressional districts in the country from October 19-24, 2013. For questions asked of all respondents, the margin of error = +/- 2.77% at 95% confidence. For questions asked just in Republican districts, the margin of error = +/- 3.58% at 95% confidence.  For questions asked in just Democratic districts, the margin of error = +/- 4.38% at 95% confidence.



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