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Polling Memo: What you need to know about the latest Democracy Corps
NRCC | June 24, 2013

Democracy Corps: What You Should Know

Last week, Democracy Corps touted their first Battleground poll of the 2014 cycle, convinced the data shows “Democrats could at least replicate the net gain of 8 seats they achieved in 2012.”1

The question is, does it really?

When looking through the poll, Democracy Corps contradicts themselves and asks rather misleading questions on multiple occasions.  They compare out of context and load questions in a way that makes the results completely unreliable.  How? Let’s start with the generic ballot.

Across all 80 battleground districts, Republicans hold a 2 point lead over democrats on the generic ballot for Congress.  Democracy Corps highlights the fact that Republicans were at the “same margin at this point as in 2007 and Democrats in 2009 when both lost big.”

DemCorps Slide 13 small
First, ’07 leads up to a presidential.  This is a midterm.  Second, if they’re suggesting Republicans being up 5 points on the generic ballot in their most vulnerable seats is a foreshadowing of ’09 when Democrats were up 6 in their toughest seats, yet lost 90% of them, well that’s plain wrong.

Still looking at the generic ballot, Democracy Corps also goes on to say “GOP members [are] more vulnerable than past cycles when [they] lost at least 44% of seats.”  However, if we look at those historical numbers, in July ’07 Democrats were up 2 in targeted Republican seats, 45%-43%.  In July ’11, Democrats were up 1, 46%-45%.  Today, Republicans lead the generic democrat by 1 point, 43%-42% respectively.  More vulnerable?  You do the math there.

DemCorps Slide 14 small
Turning to the motive ballot, see question 37.  Here they ask respondents to choose between the following:  “I want [HOUSE INCUMBENT] to try and work with President Obama to address our country’s problems OR I want [HOUSE INCUMBENT] to try to stop President Obama from advancing his agenda for the country.”  This is Democracy Corps’ version of the Republican coined “motive” ballot.  The difference?  While Republicans stick to a straight up or down question, asking voters if they prefer a republican who will act as a check and balance to Obama or a democrat who will help Obama pass his agenda, Democracy Corps loads the question, using more positive wording in the first option.  If you give someone the option of working to fix the nation’s problems, chances are they’ll want to do so.

As David Wasserman put it, “Democracy Corps produces some of the highest quality, most in-depth data available to congressional race watchers that exists.  That’s still true here, but the pollsters’ memo’s pronouncement that ‘there is every reason to believe Republicans will have a reduced majority after 2014’ is contradicted by the underlying data.”2

Republicans are in good shape on the generic ballot when looking at it in a historical context and the fact that democrats have to load their questions to get better results is indicative of just how much of a stretch a 2014 Democratic majority might be.


POLLSTER: Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for Democracy Corpos

DATE: Conducted 6/6-12/2013

SAMPLE: Sampled 1,250 Likely 2014 Voters in 80 Battleground Districts; MoE ±2.77%

SOURCE: Questionnaire: http://www.democracycorps.com/attachments/article/946/dcor.bg.fq.061313.public.pdf Charts: http://www.democracycorps.com/attachments/article/946/dcor.bg.graphs.062013.v6.pdf

 1 http://www.democracycorps.com/attachments/article/946/dcor%20bg%20memo%20062113%20FINAL.pdf

2 “Democrats’ Own Survey Seems to Suggest 2014 GOP Gains,” House Overview by David Wasserman, 6/20/2013

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