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October 20, 2014

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National Surveys
Voters Say Wealthy Interests Real Election Winners, Ready to Act Against Status Quo
Monday, November 10 2014
Download this file (EveryVoice_PostElect_111014_Graphs.pdf)Graphs[ ]1110 Kb
Download this file (EveryVoice_PostElect_111014_Memo.pdf)Memo[ ]239 Kb
Download this file (EV_PostElect_for web_110514_FQ.pdf)Frequency Questionnaire[ ]255 Kb
The 2014 midterm election demonstrated voters’ dissatisfaction with the current state of campaigns and campaign spending. More and more money is being spent each cycle, voters feel bombarded by advertisements from opaque outside groups, and they have no doubt that Congress is bought and sold by special interests and campaign donors. Voters are acutely aware that wealthy interests have an increasing influence on the political process and they now have a strong appetite for change.
A nationwide survey conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner during and immediately after election day, on behalf of Democracy Corps and commissioned by Every Voice, sampled both 2014 voters and those likely to participate in 2016, allowing for analysis of this issue’s impact this year and its relevance moving forward.[1] The survey shows the extent to which candidates’ positions on campaign spending had a clear electoral impact in 2014 and how much more important the issue will become in the next presidential campaign.
There is no doubt that voters find the status quo unacceptable – most find Super PACs disturbing and bitterly regret the amount of money spent on campaigns today. And as we have found numerous times before, voters across party lines strongly endorse Every Voice’s proposed solutions. But rather than seeing this as a long-term ‘pie in the sky’ policy goal, we find here important evidence that campaign spending mattered to voters’ choice in the ballot box and that they demand Congress make reform a priority.
Key findings:
  • Most voters are aware of Super PACs, and almost universally view them negatively.
  •  A majority say there has been more campaign spending than usual this cycle, with its effect being strongly negative on the political process.
  •  Voters believe the political system is broken, as their Congresspersons listen to special interests and contributors rather than the views of their constituents.
  • Democrats, at least, report that a candidate’s stance on money in politics was one of the top issues influencing their vote.
  •  In such an environment, there is broad support across party lines for a proposal to overhaul campaign spending, even when the proposal includes the use of taxpayer funds.
  • A specific Every Voice plan to reform spending wins 70 percent approval, with over two-thirds support from members of both parties.
  • Campaign spending projects to be an increasingly significant issue moving forward, with the 2016 electorate equally supportive of reform.
Reflecting on 2014
By any measure, voters expressed serious angst and frustration at the ballot box this past Tuesday, punishing the status quo in Washington for presiding over a government that they feel does not work for them. Among the main concerns voters have is that wealthy and special interests now control the political process, drowning out their voices.
Voters make it clear that their anger at the current way campaigns are run goes deeper than just complaints about the tone of negative advertising; 55 percent say the level of spending in this campaign was more than normal, and they rate that spending negatively by a 7:1 ratio, with the plurality saying they tuned it out and another 17 percent concluding that it is bad for our democracy.
Majorities of Republican and Democratic voters believe that special interest groups, lobbyists, and campaign contributors have the largest influence on members of Congress, displacing the views of constituents by a wide margin. In an era of hyper-partisanship, with candidates across the country accusing each other of sticking too closely to party lines, it is remarkable that twice as many voters say special interests and lobbyists hold sway over members of Congress than say Republican or Democratic party leaders do.  Entire campaigns were played out on the partisan issue (“He/she voted XX percent of the time with Obama,” or “He/she voted XX percent of the time with Tea Party leaders in Congress”) even though twice as many voters believe it is the big moneyed interests, not the party line, that influences Congressional votes.
For most voters, the economy and jobs were the top issues related to the Congressional vote; as we have reported in a previous memo on this survey, this was an “Economy Election.” But campaign spending and spending reform had an important part to play as well.
Previous Democracy Corps/Every Voice polling in contested Senate states[2] found that statewide candidates who advocated for a Constitutional Amendment to limit the electoral influence of wealthy special interests were handsomely rewarded, with two thirds of voters or more becoming more likely to support them. But this survey demonstrates the dangers of candidates being on the wrong side of the issue.
Among those who did not vote for a Republican candidate, one quarter of voters report that the candidate being beholden to billionaire special interest donors was a top reason why. Candidates’ special interest ties were more damaging than opposing raising the minimum wage, opposing equal pay for women, wanting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, supporting cuts to education funding, or even wanting to increase Medicare costs. Campaign spending didn’t just equal these other core Democratic arguments; it bested them.
Campaign spending did not become a central campaign argument in some races this year, but voters displayed an increasing awareness of the issues at play and an increasing willingness to punish candidates on the wrong side of it. In the races where it was a factor, campaign spending played a pivotal role in drawing support for reform candidates.
Campaign Spending Reform in the Future
The influence of money in politics is not a one-time worry that will pass with time. So long as the current system holds, voters will become more outward in their desire for change, and it will become a higher and higher priority.
Already, we see that reducing the influence of spending in campaigns is a top priority for 60 percent of voters, including being the single top priority for 18 percent. Candidates who ignore these issues are missing out on a huge part of the electorate’s untapped desire for a government responsive to its citizens and not to big money. People really care, and will only engage more as their voices continue to be overshadowed by special interests.
This is not a problem without a solution. In fact, voters strongly endorse Every Voice’s proposals to drastically reduce the influence of money in politics. There is little opposition to a plan to overhaul campaign spending by getting rid of big donations and allowing only small donations to candidates, matched by taxpayer funds. The use of taxpayer funds does not detract from support; 48 percent of all voters rate the plan positively and just 20 percent rate it negatively. Even Republicans – who one might think would balk at the mention of taxpayer funds – support the plan by a nearly 2:1 ratio.
Our survey also tested the language of a specific proposal and found it to have broad support:
Some people propose addressing the role of money in politics with a new law that would provide qualified candidates with limited public matching funds for small contributions they raise from constituents. The law would also require disclosure for all political spending by outside groups, and strictly enforce election laws.
The specific proposal draws 70 percent support from 2014 voters, including 41 percent who strongly favor it. Only 20 percent oppose the proposal. Yet again, support is consistent across party lines. Seventy-seven (77) percent of Democrats, 72 percent of independents, and 65 percent of Republicans favor such a proposal, as do 73 percent of Millennials and 72 percent of white voters.
But even more encouraging for proponents of campaign finance reform is the proposal’s performance among the projected 2016 electorate, which is different than 2014’s in terms of demographics and partisanship. Presidential-year voters support the Every Voice proposal by an equally wide margin, 69 percent to 19 percent, with 37 percent strongly in favor, proving again that this is a winning issue that will endure until there is serious reform. 

[1] Results from September, 2014 Democracy Corps/Every Voice Senate Battleground survey

[2] The survey among 904 likely 2016 voters (1429 unweighted), including 588 2014 voters (1030 unweighted) was conducted from November 3-5, 2014, using a list of 2010 voters, 2012 voters, and new registrants. Unless otherwise noted, the margin of error for the full sample is +/-2.59 % at 95% confidence.

Tuesday and What It Tells Us About 2016
Friday, November 07 2014
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Download this file (Post-Elect_Master_WVWV_110714.pdf)Graphs[ ]1414 Kb
Download this file (WVWV_PostElect_110514_forweb_FQ.pdf)Frequency Questionnaire[ ]267 Kb

The main message of the election and take-away from this election-night poll[1] is surely a call to the Democrats’ national leaders to address this new economy where jobs do not pay enough to live on, working women and men are struggling without help, and good American jobs are not being created while the government is beholden to those with the most money. 


The voters want to vote for change, and this poll shows that the Democrats and their supportive coalition would rally to a message that understands people are struggling with the new economy; but that was not President’s economic narrative for this election and it showed. Tackling the new economy is a tremendous undertaking, but also one that will be received by a large audience of voters and that is the best path forward for Democrats.


But for all that and two consecutive off-year wave elections, there is no reason to think Republicans have raised their odds of electing a president in 2016.  Looking at this poll, one would rather be in the position of the Democrats than of the Republicans. 


In the presidential electorate that we surveyed, some of whom voted on Tuesday, Democrats have a 6-point advantage in party identification; the congressional vote is even; and Hillary Clinton defeats Mitt Romney by 6 points – well ahead of Obama’s margin in 2012.  Moreover, this does not reflect the projected growth in Millennials and Hispanics in the 2016 electorate.


The election was fundamentally important, but has not disrupted the national trends and coalitions – even on the day of electoral triumph for the Republicans.  

Read More

[1] Based on a unique survey of 1,429 likely 2016 voters across the country, including 1,030 2014 voters, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for Democracy Corps and Women's Voices Women Vote Action Fund. This survey was conducted from November 3-5, 2014 using a list of 2010 voters, 2012 voters, and new registrants. Unless otherwise noted, the margin of error for the full sample is = +/- 2.59% at 95% confidence. Results among 2014 voters are weighted to reflect election results and Exit Poll demographic results publicly posted by Edison Research. This also includes oversamples conducted for WVWVAF in Senate Battleground seats to allow more in-depth message testing in these states as well as an oversample of unmarried women that voted in 2014. Half of respondents were reached by cell phone, in order to account for ever-changing demographics and trying to accurately sample the full American electorate.

Tied national congressional ballot in our poll of off-year voters: GOP still trails by 4 points in presidential electorate
Friday, October 24 2014
Download this file (forweb102114fq.pdf)Frequency Questionnaire[ ]130 Kb

Two weeks before election day, the generic Congressional ballot remains deadlocked at 46 percent among off-year 2014 voters, just slightly outperforming recent polling averages and far outpacing 2010 national exit polling that showed Democrats losing the national House ballot 45-53 percent.  Looking ahead, Democrats remain well-positioned for 2016—among the 2012 Presidential electorate, a generic Democratic candidate leads their Republican counterpart by 4 points, 47-43 percent.


While Democrats still trail among Independent voters, the current 39-44 percent deficit among this key bloc is considerably smaller than at any point in our polling since early 2013.  Unlike 2010, when Democrats lost the national House vote among women, they currently maintain a 49-41 percent advantage with women voters. 


Democrats have made real gains in consolidating the Rising American Electorate coalition that had previously been underperforming.  In our last survey in June, Democrats led among the RAE 55-36 percent, a net 6 points off their 2010 performance among this bloc.  The vote among the RAE now stands at 63-28 percent, putting the Democratic vote share right at 2010 levels (62 percent) with this group.  This is driven in part by improvement among minority voters (72-20 percent now; 67-24 percent in June), but largely via shift among unmarried women (63-28 percent now; 54-37 percent in June).


This is according to Democracy Corps’ final national survey of the 2014 cycle conducted October 16-21, in which we have shifted methodologies to provide the most accurate assessment of the national electorate possible.  While we have historically conducted our national surveys using Random Digit Dialing (RDD), we conducted this survey using Registration Based Sampling (RBS) off of the Catalist voter file.  This allows us to both sample and define off-year and presidential year voters using voter history data from the file instead of relying on self-reported vote history and vote intention which academic studies and long real-world experience have shown are significantly less accurate.  The sample for this survey consisted of voters who voted in the 2012 election or who registered after it.  Perhaps more important, our definition of likely voters is based on a combination of vote history from the voter file and stated vote intention, which our internal analysis has shown in the most accurate prediction of actual likelihood of voting.  Listed RBS sampling also has the added benefit of allowing us to more effectively achieve representative demographics prior to weighting by allowing us to stratify our sample based on demographic data that is listed on the file.  We called 50 percent of voters on cell phones, as we have done in the past.


Women's Economic Agenda: Powerful Impact on Vote and Turnout in 2014
Wednesday, June 25 2014
Download this file (dcor wv graphs 062414 v3.pdf)Graphs[ ]1737 Kb
Download this file (dcor wv memo 062514 v5.pdf)Memo[ ]623 Kb
Download this file (dcor061514_wvwv_fq_WEB1.pdf)Frequency Questionnaire [ ]204 Kb

This is a turning point in the 2014 off-year elections when parties, candidates, and leaders can recognize how central are unmarried women and the Rising American Electorate to the Democrats’ chances and how clear a path there is to get their votes and get them to vote. This is the main finding of the most recent survey and focus groups from Democracy Corps and Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund.  This report should be a call to arms, a populist call to arms that sets up the stakes in these terms:

It's critical to vote in November. If Republicans win, big money will get its way, and even more hard-working women and men will be drowning. You can change that. We have an economic plan, including a women’s economic agenda. When the middle class succeeds, America succeeds.

This populist set-up, along with the “in-your-shoes” narrative about people’s economic struggles, and a policy agenda that includes equal pay and equal health insurance, help for working mothers and help with better jobs through raised minimum wage and more affordable college, shifts the race from one where Democrats trail by 1 point to one in which they are ahead by 3.  It also dramatically increases the turnout and Democratic preference of unmarried voters.  

Read the full memo

See the graphs

Key findings:

  • Unmarried women can make or break the election in 2014.
  • When 2014 likely voters are exposed to empathetic “in your shoes” messaging and an economic agenda for working women and men, it shifts the vote from -1 to +3.
  • When unmarried women are exposed to the same message framework, they shift from +17 Democratic margin to +31 and their turnout increases by 10 points.
  • The economic agenda for working women and men includes a cluster of powerful policies on helping working mothers, equal pay and equal health insurance, raising the minimum wage and making college affordable to get to better jobs. 
  • GOP attitude toward equal pay has most turnout effect and GOP attacks on Obamacare and economic policies increase Democratic turnout.
  • The national congressional race is tied and stable, with Democrats held back by modest vote among base RAE and unmarried women. 
  • Unmarried women are the main story because they are reporting modest turnout intentions and the vote among this group is now close to 2010 level. But they clearly can be moved and mobilized by “in your shoes” messaging.
  • Two contextual factors: 1. Wrong track and modest job approval for the president, and 2. Increased hostility towards Republicans and Congress.  Which will come to matter more will tell us how the race breaks.
  • Powerful closing rationale: if Republicans win, the people with money win and more working men and women will be drowning.



Broad Bi-Partisan Consensus Supports Reforms to Supreme Court
Wednesday, May 07 2014

Americans View Court as too Political

A new poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Democracy Corps reveals that the Supreme Court has very lackluster job performance ratings and is viewed as overly political by Americans, who support a wide range of reforms for our nation’s highest court.  Perhaps most remarkably, even in a time of intense political polarization there is broad cross-partisan consensus on these issues. 

Once one of the country's more trusted institutions, today just 35 percent give the court a positive job performance rating and a strong majority believe that Justices are influenced more by their own personal beliefs and political leanings than by a strict legal analysis. 

Two recent decisions on campaign finance have only served to intensify Americans' dissatisfaction with the Court. The Citizens United ruling is deeply unpopular across every partisan and demographic group while Americans of nearly every stripe believe the recent McCutcheon ruling will make our political system more corrupt - again with broad consensus across Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.

This survey also found overwhelming approval for a series of seven reforms to the Court, with large, cross-partisan majorities supporting such proposals as requiring the court to disclose any outside activities, abolishing lifetime appointments in favor of set terms and allowing televisions cameras to film the Court’s proceedings.           

Read the full memo here.   

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