OnMessage Polling and NewRepublican.org Release New Post-Election Survey Data: Democrats Party of Past, GOP Party of Future

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At a press briefing at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, November 25, GOP pollster Wes Anderson of OnMessage, Inc. and Alex Castellanos of NewRepublican.org presented new, post-election survey data from the key, swing states of CO, IA, NC and NH.

OnMessage Polling and NewRepublican.org Release New Post-Election Survey Data: Democrats Party of Past, GOP Party of Future

Washington -- At a press briefing at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, November 25, GOP pollster Wes Anderson of OnMessage, Inc. and Alex Castellanos of NewRepublican.org presented new, post-election survey data from the key, swing states of CO, IA, NC and NH. The data is available for download at here: (http://bit.ly/1ttxVfL)

The data shed light on how Republicans won the U.S. Senate, which party benefited more from the gender gap and whether Republicans made progress in becoming more than the party of "No." Anderson and Castellanos also discussed what the survey data meant for the 2016 Presidential campaign.

Anderson and Castellanos focused on five lessons from the 2014 elections.

Point One: The Democratic “Coalition of the Ascendant” is broken.

President Obama has broken the Democratic coalition that elected and re-elected him. (Slide #4) At least two significant pieces of this coalition, women and younger voters, did not perform as expected for the Democrats in these four states. Collectively, Democrats won women in these Senate races by just two points (50% Democrat Candidate, 48% GOP Candidate). Additionally, Republicans won voters under 45 years of age by one point (47% Democrat Candidate, 48% GOP Candidate). In these four states, the 2014 election produced a statistical tie between the parties among younger voters and women – data establishing that the Democrat’s “Coalition of the Ascendant” does not exist in the present, much less in the future. Anderson noted, “I hope Democrats think this is just an off-year election phenomenon, the difference between off-year and Presidential year voters. The truth is, younger voters and women, even young, single women, have lost a lot of faith in this President, no matter when they vote.”

Point Two: Republicans caught up on campaign mechanics.

In 2012 President Obama’s reelection effort built a better targeting and turnout effort based on groundbreaking data analytics. They attempted to replicate those efforts in a number of Senate races this year and this survey would suggest they did (slide #5). As we measured the voter contact efforts of both parties, it is clear that the Democrats were remarkably effective in contacting, identifying and getting out their vote.

However, Democrats operated under two misguided assumptions: One, that Republicans could not match their efforts and two, that the mechanics of targeting and turnout could overcome a significant message deficit. Neither turned out to be true.

One of the heroes of campaign 2014 was RNC Chairman Reince Priebus who quietly delivered on his promise to catch up on data analytics, modern voter turnout technics, and GOTV social media. The RNC, along with the NRSC and NRCC, invested significant time and money in an effort to rebuild GOP targeting and turnout efforts. In states where both sides committed real resources to these efforts, like Colorado and North Carolina, Republicans fought the Democrats to a draw in the ground war with equal percentages of voters telling us they were personally contacted (via phone, mail, internet or door-to-door) by supporters of the Republican and Democrat candidates. In Colorado and North Carolina about 60% of the voters said they had been contacted directly by supports of Republican candidate and 60% by supports of the Democrat candidate. As expected, each campaign won voters they targeted by a significant margin. If the ground games tied, Anderson and Castellanos noted, the difference in the election was the failure of Democratic governance and messaging.

Anderson and Castellanos both agreed that when the GOP plays primarily to its base, it often does so at the expense of its appeal to swing voters in the middle and, now, Democrats were facing a similar challenge. Castellanos said, “The hotter you cook your base to deliver them to the polls, the more you risk alienating the cool middle. The Democratic strategy is based on demography and not ideas. That was a problem for Democrats in 2014 and will be again in 2016. ”

Point Three: The 2014 version of the Democrat’s “War on Women” strategy was a failure.

Women were evenly split in these four contests while men voted from the Republican candidate by a seven percentage-point margin. Republicans won the gender-gap and the Democrats’ war on women failed. The data explains why. (Slide #13) We asked voters in these four states if the President’s handling of the economy was significant to their vote decision and whether they favored or opposed Obamacare.

Even though Mark Udall was preferred 45% to 35% when voters were asked who “understands the issues and concerns facing most women voters,” and voters thought Cory Gardner “supports policies that are not in the best interest of women” by 42% to 33% (slide #9), Anderson pointed out that these were better numbers on these questions than Republicans usually enjoy. Anderson also pointed out that the economy and Obamacare, not gender issues, were women’s dominant concerns. Among women 73% said the President’s handling of the economy was a significant factor in their vote decision and a majority (51%) opposed Obamacare.

In the end, women voters rejected Democrat efforts to force a decision on a very narrow band of gender issues. Castellanos noted, “when the bus is taking everybody over an economic cliff, it doesn’t pay to argue about who is sitting up front.”

Point Four: The President’s poor job approval worked as expected.

President Obama said his policies were on the ballot this election. He was right. (Slide #20) In these four states the President’s job approval was 12 points upside-down on Election Day (43% approve, 55% disapprove). More importantly, the President’s job approval was underwater with voters under 45 (44% approve, 54% disapprove) and women (47% approve, 52% disapprove).

Point Five: Republicans are starting to become “the party of the future” and Democrats, “the party of the past.”

Perhaps in the most surprising development revealed in this data, and the most significant for 2016, Republicans have started to becoming more than the party of “No”. And where they were seen as offering a fresher and better alternative than Democrats, especially among Independent voters, they won elections. (Slides 9-12).

When all voters and then independents were asked, which candidate “believes in growing our economy naturally, bottom up from Colorado, not top-down, from Washington?” and “is an optimistic leader with fresh ideas for our future?” they chose the Republican candidate in Colorado, North Carolina and Iowa by significant margins. The only candidate who did not win these questions among Independents was Scott Brown, who’s campaign fell short in New Hampshire. In fact, among both total voters and Independents, Udall, Braley, and Hagan all lost the questions about which candidate “stands for outdated, top-down Washington solutions that no longer help solve (State’s) problems”.


In an effort to better understand the 2014 election and the lessons they hold for the future, New Republican and OnMessage Inc. conducted a four state post-election survey. The states included Colorado, North Carolina, Iowa and New Hampshire. These four states had competitive races for the U.S. Senate and were carried by both Presidents Obama and Bush. The questionnaires were identical except for candidate names, which were adjusted for their respective states. Three hundred interviews were conducted via phone (both land and cell) in each of the four states between November 5th and 6th of voters who participated in the U.S. Senate race. Interviews were stratified by county to reflect actual voter turnout.

NR Press Office: (515) 681-5895
Gentry Collins: gentry(dot)collins(at)newrepublican.org

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