Democracy Corps: Four-State Senate Data

Nov. 12, 2015 — The Democracy Corps, a liberal political research group founded and run by James Carville and national Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, just released their new study on four pivotal Senate races. The organization, Women’s Voices Women Votes Action Fund is a co-sponsor of this particular survey. Though the analysis spin was pro-Democratic Party for the upcoming election, the actual numbers suggest something that’s not quite as conclusive.

The purpose of the four state poll — conducted during the Oct. 24-28 period of 400 likely voters in each domain — Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin — was to demonstrate the power of what they are terming the “RAE Coalition” (defined as the progressive “Rising American Electorate”). The demographic groups comprising this subset are unmarried women, people of color, and millennials (those born in the early 80s to the early 2000s). The premise is that this coalition now claims a majority of people in each of these states. The Democrats’ problem is that the aforementioned demographic segments have low voter participation rates.

Interestingly, the Democracy Corps poll, as it relates to ballot questions for each tested state, actually produced better Republican numbers than most other recent polls. This is particularly true in Ohio and Colorado.

The pollsters, Greenberg Rosner Quinlan Research, developed a two-way race in each state and, in two instances (Colorado and Florida), picking potential candidates who may, or may not, be on a general election statewide ballot.

In the Colorado Senate race, which ranks as the Republicans’ worst candidate recruitment effort for any competitive race, the GRQ Research group chose Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO-3) as the placebo GOP nominee. Tipton has given no indication that he is jumping into the Senate race, but actually performs surprisingly well against Sen. Michael Bennet (D), an incumbent who all strong Republican potential candidates have shied away from challenging. The ballot test for this hypothetical pairing finds Sen. Bennet leading Rep. Tipton 50-44 percent, hardly a landslide proportion for an incumbent in what is proving to be a Democratic-leaning state in presidential election years.

The Florida chosen candidates were representatives Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) and David Jolly (R-FL-13), both of whom are announced Senate candidates for incumbent Marco Rubio’s (R) open seat.

There is no guarantee that either man will qualify for the general election, however. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL-9) leads Murphy in most Democratic primary polls, and Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL-2) is a potential late entry because the state Supreme Court has eviscerated her northern Florida congressional district in their mid-decade redistricting plan. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6), and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera are opposing Rep. Jolly among Republicans.

In the hypothetical Jolly-Murphy pairing, it is the Tampa Bay Republican who clings to a 44-43 percent slight edge over the Palm Beach Democratic representative.

Turning to Ohio, the Democracy Corps is ironically providing Sen. Rob Portman (R) with good news. The last four publicly released polls taken from June through early October show Democratic challenger and former Gov. Ted Strickland leading Sen. Portman from between three and six percentage points. This, even though virtually every survey finds Portman’s approval ratings to be stronger than Strickland’s. But, the new Democracy Corps poll finds the two tied at 47 percent.

Finally in Wisconsin, the DC survey projects former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) holding a five-point, 51-45 percent, edge over Sen. Ron Johnson (R). The two opposed each other in 2010, with challenger Johnson upsetting then-Sen. Feingold, 52-47 percent. Even here, the Democracy Corps poll signals a better standing for the Republican candidate than two previous October Wisconsin university polls that gave Feingold leads of 11 and 14 percentage points.

Though the Democracy Corps stated intent was to show that “The Republican Party has already lost the country at a national level, as they lost the culture war and represent a shrinking percentage of voters,” their actual data doesn’t paint such a bleak picture of their political adversaries. Instead, they suggest a highly competitive coming election cycle.

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