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Polling Memo: The Truth about that Generic Ballot
NRCC | May 23, 2013

Washington Post, Round 2: About That Generic Ballot

Today’s headline from The Hill touts an eight point lead for Democrats on the generic ballot for Congress according to Tuesday’s Washington Post poll.

A few things about that.


As pointed out yesterday, Washington Post has the partisan spread pegged at 33 % Democrat and 22% Republican.  Democrats do not have an 11 point registration advantage.  Period.

Once again, for reference, on Election Night 2012, Democrats composed 38% of the electorate and Republicans composed 32.  That’s a 6 point spread.  In the 2008 wave election, Democrats still only had a 7 point turnout advantage over Republicans, 39-32 respectively.


Notice the position of the generic congressional ballot.  Normally, this particular question is placed at the beginning of a survey to gage voter’s instinctive attitudes prior to message testing and the like. It’s the best way to get an unbiased response.

Here, Washington Post places it three questions before the survey ends, right before asking about the Tea Party and after respondents are prompted to contemplate who’s to blame for the Senate not passing background checks, President Obama or Republicans. By focusing on issues first, you’re framing the way in which a voter considers the ballot, and that’s called loading the deck.


Real Clear Politics has the generic ballot averaged at 42-40 with Democrats up 2 percent.  That’s a much more accurate read of where the ballot normally is and where it likely is today.



POLLSTER: Abt-SRBI for Washington Post

DATE: Conducted 5/16-19/2013

SAMPLE: Sampled 1,001 Adults; MoE ±3.5%

SOURCE: http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/politics/washington-post-abc-news-poll-may-15-19-2013/170/

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