UK Poll Shows Public Rejects Hard Brexit

UK Poll Shows Public Rejects Hard Brexit

New polling data released by GQRR today shows that Britain wants a “soft” Brexit. Voters would be happier with a Brexit deal that left Britain inside the single market and with continued free movement of people than with a deal that took the country out of the single market and gave it full control of the borders. But our analysis of the poll shows that if Theresa May focuses on key threats to the Conservative vote ahead of the next general election, she may take Britain out of the single market all the same.

As Peter McLeod, Vice President at GQRR and head of the firm’s London office, writes at today:

The struggle provoking this predicament has been going on in the background for decades: Conservatives are split on Europe. David Cameron tried to resolve it by holding the Brexit referendum, and in the wake of that failure Theresa May faces a new version of the dilemma. Unlike the country as a whole, Conservative voters are evenly split on what would be the better Brexit. Soft Brexit would leave 48% of them happy, 42% unhappy; hard Brexit would leave 48% happy, 41% unhappy. So May is bound to leave a significant chunk of Conservative voters feeling betrayed. The challenge for her and her team is to assess the risk each scenario poses at the next general election. Our poll suggests it’s a knife-edge decision: Tory voters who would be unhappy with a soft Brexit are about as likely to turn to UKIP as those who would be unhappy with hard Brexit to jump ship to Labour or the Lib Dems.

Read the full article here

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (GQRR) surveyed 1,994 people in Great Britain online between 8 and 10 March. Results are weighted to be representative of the total population by age, gender, region, socioeconomic grade, ethnicity and past voting behaviour.

Download data tables showing the results here.

For more information contact or tweet Peter McLeod (@mcleodp).

Voters Oppose GOP Maneuvering to Push through Trump's Ultraconservative Supreme Court Nominee

Voters Oppose GOP Maneuvering to Push through Trump's Ultraconservative Supreme Court Nominee

The following data is from a national telephone survey of 601 likely November 2018 voters. The survey was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research from January 27 - 31, 2017, and has a margin of error of +/-4.0 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. Fifty percent of respondents were reached on a cell phone.

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, a new national poll1 shows that voters believe that the nomination has real consequences for the direction of the country. Voters strongly oppose efforts by the Republicans to change the rules in order to push through Trump’s ultraconservative nominee.

Americans see this as a fight that matters to them. When presented with potential consequences and rulings that could result from Gorsuch’s confirmation, including overturning Roe v. Wade and leaving the flow of special interest money in politics unchecked, large majorities of voters say they are more likely to oppose the nominee.

Key findings from the poll, conducted January 27-31, 2017 on behalf of NARAL Pro Choice America Foundation, Every Voice, and End Citizens United, include:

  • Voters overwhelmingly believe that Trump’s nomination will have a real impact on the country’s future. Fully 72 percent of voters think the nomination will have a big difference on the direction of the country. Voters across the political spectrum agree on the importance of this nomination for the country, with 76 percent of Democrats saying it will make a big difference, along with 75 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of Independents.
  • Americans strongly object to any GOP attempts to use political tactics to strongarm Trump’s nominee through the confirmation process. After hearing balanced messaging, seven in 10 voters (69 percent) oppose Republicans changing the rules to prevent a filibuster and allow the U.S. Senate to confirm a nominee with just a simple majority instead of the required 60 votes, with 54 percent strongly opposing this proposal. In fact, even 4-out-of-10 Trump voters (39 percent) oppose Republicans trying to change filibuster rules. 
  • Highlighting potential actions and rulings that could result from confirming Trump’s Supreme Court nominee makes voters much more likely to oppose him. Large majorities of voters say they are more likely to oppose Trump’s nominee when they hear a diverse set of issues that could be impacted by a nominee like Gorsuch. Actions that create strong opposition include:
    • Upholding the Citizens United decision to allow corporations, unions, and wealthy donors to spend more money on elections.  
    • Overturning the Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal.  
    • Eliminating or weakening environmental regulations that protect air, water, and land from pollution.  
    • Refusing to uphold or eliminating rights and protections for LGBT individuals.  
    • Failing to protect voting rights and make it more difficult for Americans, particularly the poor and people of color, to vote.  
    • Weakening the ability of labor unions to organize workers to negotiate for better wages and working conditions.
  • Voters strongly support legal abortion and oppose a Trump nominee they believe could put that right at risk. Seven out of 10 voters (69 percent) support a woman’s right to choose, and they recognize that Trump’s Supreme Court nominee jeopardizes the Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal. More than half of voters (52 percent) think it is very or somewhat likely that Roe v. Wade will be overturned if Trump’s nominee is confirmed. This possibility raises strong opposition for voters, with 61 percent who say they are more likely to oppose a nominee who wants to overturn Roe v. Wade.
  • Voters have strong negative reactions to a Supreme Court nominee who will continue to allow corporations and special interests to use money to gain influence and drown out the voice of individuals in politics. Opposition to a nominee who wants no spending limits for corporations and wealthy individuals in elections is both broad and deep. Overall, 78 percent are more likely to oppose the nominee (56 percent much more likely to oppose), including 92 percent of Democrats, 84 percent of Independents, and 59 percent of Republicans. Three quarters of voters express a desire for their Senators to oppose a Supreme Court nominee who has ruled in favor of allowing campaign contributors to spend more money in elections.

Voters recognize this Supreme Court nomination is crucial to the direction of the country, and they strongly oppose any efforts by the Republicans to skirt the rules and push through Trump’s ultraconservative nominee. 

Was Barack Obama Bad for Democrats?

Was Barack Obama Bad for Democrats?

Stan Greenberg and Anna Greenberg provide a provocative analysis in their new op-ed for The New York Times. Full article here

President Obama will be remembered as a thoughtful and dignified president who led a scrupulously honest administration that achieved major changes.

People argue over whether his impatience with politicians and Republican intransigence denied him bigger accomplishments, but that argument is beside the point: He rescued an economy in crisis and passed the recovery program, pulled America back from its military overreach, passed the Affordable Care Act and committed the nation to addressing climate change. To be truly transformative in the way he wanted, however, his success had to translate into electoral gains for those who shared his vision and wanted to reform government. On that count, Mr. Obama failed.

His legacy regrettably includes the more than 1,000 Democrats who lost their elections during his two terms. Republicans now have total control in half of America’s states.

Why such political carnage?

Faced with the economy’s potential collapse as he took office, Mr. Obama devoted his presidency to the economic recovery, starting with restoring the financial sector. But he never made wage stagnation and growing inequality central to his economic mission, even though most Americans struggled financially for the whole of his term.

At the same time, Mr. Obama declined to really spend time and capital explaining his initiatives in an effective way. He believed that positive changes on the ground, especially from economic policies and the Affordable Care Act, would succeed, vindicating his judgment and marginalizing his opponents.

Absent a president educating the public about his plans, for voters, the economic recovery effort morphed into bailouts — bank bailouts, auto bailouts, insurance bailouts. By his second year in office, he spotlighted the creation of new jobs and urged Democrats to defend our “progress.”

When President Obama began focusing on those “left behind” by the recovery, he called for building “ladders of opportunity.” That communicated that the president believed the country’s main challenges were unrealized opportunity for a newly ascendant, multicultural America, rather than the continuing economic struggle experienced by a majority of Americans.

Mr. Obama also offered only tepid support to the most important political actor in progressive and Democratic politics: the labor movement. In the absence of progressive funders in the mode of the conservative Koch brothers, unions are the most important actors at the state legislative level. Yet when the 2010 election ushered in a spate of anti-union governors, who eliminated collective bargaining rights for public employees and passed “right to work” laws, Mr. Obama never really joined this fight. In fact, he spent the last couple of years of his presidency pursuing the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, a free trade law vociferously opposed by the labor movement. Under President Obama, union membership has declined to 11.1 percent from 12.3 percent.

While the Obama campaigns of 2008 and 2012 were models of innovation in online organizing and microtargeting, they did not translate into success in the midterm elections or in Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Democratic turnout dropped in 2010, 2012 and significantly in 2014. Models, it appears, do not substitute for the hard work of organizing and engaging voters in nonpresidential years; models that apparently drove nearly every decision made by the Clinton campaign are no substitute for listening to voters.

Finally, just as he governed, the campaign messages from the president in the midterms and in 2016 were focused on progress and growth.

On the eve of the 2016 election, the president used the refrain: “We’ve seen America turn recession into recovery” and 15.5 million new jobs. Pointedly, he said, “Incomes are rising. Poverty is falling.”

The public’s reaction was stark from the beginning. People did not believe his view on the economy, and his approval ratings fell in Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin in 2010 and in Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania in 2014 — the states that led the working-class move away from the Democrats.

Just as important, however, was the discontent brewing with the Democrats’ own base. Combined, the approximately 40 percent of minority, unmarried female and millennial voters disapproved of how President Obama was handling his job in 2010 and 2014, and many stayed home during the off-year elections. Mitt Romney carried white millennials by 7 percentage points in 2012.

Mr. Obama did win re-election that year, though only after embracing Teddy Roosevelt’s populist spirit and criticizing the “breathtaking greed of a few.” He declared it a “make-or-break moment for the middle class.” This posture did not animate his governing message or the 2016 presidential election. The president will leave office with a rising approval rating near the same league of Ronald Reagan, an economy nearing full employment and real wages tipping up. Yet a majority of voters in the last election said the economy was the top issue in their vote.

We think voters were sending a clear message: They want more than a recovery. They want an economy and government that works for them, and that task is unfinished.

November 2016: Election Results & Congratulations!

November 2016: Election Results & Congratulations!

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner would like to extend congratulations to a number of our clients. 

United States Senate

  • GQR congratulates Senator-elect Maggie Hassan and her team on a hard-fought victory in the election for Senate in New Hampshire, one of two Democratic pickups in the Senate. Hassan defeated incumbent Senator Kelly Ayotte in one of the nation's most high profile Senate contests, winning by a margin of 1,019 votes out of nearly 740,000 votes cast. Hassan now joins New Hampshire’s Senior Senator Jeanne Shaheen as the only two women in American history to be elected both governor and senator.  She will also serve as part of New Hampshire’s first all-female Democratic congressional delegation. GQR is proud to have been part of the Hassan team, and our work was led by Al Quinlan, Missy Egelsky, and Ben Winston.

  • GQR also congratulates Senator Richard Blumenthal on a resounding victory in the election for Senate in Connecticut. Blumenthal defeated Dan Carter, securing 63 percent of the vote. This project was led by Al Quinlan and Mallory Newall. 

  • GQR was also proud to assist independent expenditure groups working on behalf of Senator-elect Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada.

United States Congress

GQR congratulates our numerous victorious congressional clients, including Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01), Congressman John Sarbanes (MD-03), Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02), and Congressman Mark Pocan (WI-02).

 GQR was proud to work alongside the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and House Majority PAC in support of a number of congressional campaigns, including Congresswoman-elect Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) and Congressman-elect Brad Schneider (IL-10).

Other Elections

  • GQR congratulates South Dakotans for Integrity for the passage of Initiated Measure 22, the South Dakota Government Accountability and Anti-Corruption Act, a thrilling victory for campaign finance reform. Despite significant paid opposition from Koch brother funded groups, IM-22 won with 52 percent of the vote statewide. IM-22 introduces a set of reforms to crack down on corruption, make campaigns more transparent, and end the practice of lobbyists giving unlimited secret gifts to politicians in South Dakota. It also includes the nation’s first system of Democracy credits.
  •  GQR congratulates the Alliance for Gun Responsibility for the successful passage of Initiative 1491 in Washington, which allows family members and law enforcement to ask a judge to temporarily suspend a person’s access to firearms if there is documented evidence that the person poses a serious threat to themselves or others.
  •  GQR was proud to conduct research on behalf of the Wayne County (MI) Regional Education Service Agency and the John Ball Zoo/Grand Rapids Public Museum (Kent County, MI). The successful passage of these initiatives will ensure additional funding for 33 school districts and thousands of students across Wayne County and, in Kent County, create a dedicated source of funding to expand educational programs and care for thousands of animals and unique artifacts. 
  • GQR also congratulates Oakland County, Michigan, Treasurer Andy Meisner and Ingham County, Michigan, Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth on their victories. 

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Promotes Brian Paler and Peter McLeod as new Vice Presidents

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Promotes Brian Paler and Peter McLeod as new Vice Presidents

We are pleased to announce the promotions of Brian Paler and Peter McLeod to Vice President. 

The 2016 US Election - Some Implications

The 2016 US Election - Some Implications

Jeremy Rosner, GQR Executive Vice President and Principal, expands on his earlier article: "The 2016 US Election - Explaining the Results". 

Our earlier note laid out 5 key explanations for the historic result of the November 8 US election:

  1. A strong, angry backlash from lower-educated, non-urban white voters overwhelmed the weakly-motivated “cosmopolitan” electorate that twice elected Barack Obama and supported Hillary Clinton.
  2. Clinton mostly ran a “continuity” election in a year when 62% wanted change, and did not give sufficient voice to the need for economic change that most voters wanted. 
  3. FBI director James Comey’s unethical intervention on October 28 arrested Clinton’s momentum and depressed her vote enough to account for the outcome. 
  4. Attacks on Donald Trump’s unsuitability for the presidency were broadly credible, but not a sufficient reason for many voters to support Clinton. 
  5. The polls got some things right – including the prediction Clinton would win more votes – but missed a lot of the story, due to factors like bad expectations on who would vote.

5 Implications
This note lays out some implications, which are becoming clearer day by day. The consequences of this historic election will reverberate across America and the world for years and decades to come, but five implications already loom large:
1. The decline of major American institutions. Donald Trump is without question the most unqualified person to win the presidency in modern American history. That is not simply a partisan view; it is something many Republican as well as Democratic voices note. He has never run for public office. He has no real grounding in major policy issues. The fact that he is about to occupy the Oval Office raises major questions about the strength and soundness of major American institutions.
It represents, in the first instance, a failure of the Republican Party, which largely acquiesced to Trump’s populist-fueled rise. While some important Republican voices stepped forward to denounce him, most did not, and the party is now largely rallying behind him after his victory. The first responsibility for his rise, election, and presidency lies with his Party, and its long history of flirting with the populist rage that fueled his vote.
But theirs is not the only institutional failure. As noted, the FBI and its director defied long-standing policies to intervene in the election during the last weeks of the campaign, in a manner that predictably had a huge impact, and arguably determined the outcome.
And there is an institutional failure of sorts among the Democrats as well. The bulk of the party paid too little attention to the frustrations of working class voters, and underestimated their rage. Clinton offered many serious economic proposals, and many were laudable; but they mostly were relatively modest in scope and did not add up to a prescription for the kind of changes that might transform those lacking opportunities and mobility in America’s Rust Belt, inner cities, and hard-pressed rural communities.
The world is rightly impressed with the fact that, despite this contentious campaign and unexpected outcome, America is now proceeding with a peaceful and orderly transfer of power. The sturdiness of that American institution remains remarkable. But with the presidency and both branches of Congress now moving into Republican hands, and with Trump certain to install a Republican-appointed majority onto the Supreme Court, there is real reason to worry that we have only begun to see the erosion of key American institutions.
2. Polarization heading toward a new extreme. America has been becoming more politically polarized for decades, with each party’s members in Congress moving further apart, and with voters increasingly segregating themselves into more politically homogeneous physical and media communities. But the 2016 election took American politics to new and toxic lows, and threatens to usher in new kinds of polarization that are potentially very dangerous.
Particularly worrisome is the sense that it is acceptable for political partisans to prosecute and even physically attack political opponents. The Trump campaign seemed to legitimate threats of violence against its critics, and egged on chants of “lock her up” against Clinton. Threats by leading Republicans to continue investigations of Clinton even after the election outcome raise the specter of a new political culture in which the state becomes a permanent institution of political vendettas.
In many other countries, the result of that approach is a culture of “rule or ruin” – in which electoral losers must flee the country to protect themselves – and which in turn leads rulers to cling to power at all costs, through any means, to protect themselves. This political culture is common in various developing countries, but it is horrific to think we could be seeing it take hold in the United States.
3. Worrisome implications for national security. Even with the White House, the Senate, the House, and potentially the Supreme Court in Republican hands, the United States generally still retains institutional checks and balances on what any president can do. But that is far less true in the realm of national security, and that is cause for great concern.
It may be that Mr. Trump will surround himself by seasoned national security hands, listen to their counsel, and show subtlety and skill in the exercise of American power. But there is little in his record to support that, and the initial steps by Trump's transition team to purge many moderate national security advisers are deeply troubling. The affinity that Trump and some on his team have shown for Vladimir Putin and other global authoritarians, and the active support the Kremlin provided for the Trump campaign, raise questions of the highest order about American sovereignty and security – and about the long-term safety of our allies in Europe and other countries around Russia’s perimeter. 
4. A big boost for the “Populist International.” The Trump victory is our “Amer-exit” – the US equivalent of the UK’s “Brexit” vote to leave the European Union. It is part of the rise across the West of populist, nationalist, usually authoritarian leaders, parties, and regimes. This includes the Britain’s UK Independence Party, Geert Wilders and the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands; Marine Le Pen and the National Front in France; Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Hungary; and many others.
Trump’s win provides a big boost of validation and momentum for all these movements. Like Trump, most of them draw their energy from outrage against globalization, migration, ethnic mixing, and tolerance on issues of gender, sexual identity, and religion. Like Trump, many of them have received open support from Vladimir Putin and his regime.
The columnist Anne Applebaum has aptly dubbed this movement “the Populist International.” Donald Trump now becomes its unofficial global leader.
Until now, the United States has been the voice for the opposing view, “liberal democracy”: belief in limited government, universal human rights, protection of the rights of ethnic, racial, and religious minorities, and a rational, fact-based, scientifically-grounded deliberation of policy. The fight between liberal democracy and “the Populist International” is the most important fight of this generation.  There is no clear leader for the liberal democracy side of the fight. One will emerge, but for the first time, it will not be America’s president.
5. The retreat of objective news. Finally, Trump’s victory has worrying implications for the future of the media, how people get their news, and the quality of America’s political debates. Trump partly won because he emerged as the master of a new media technology. Franklin Roosevelt succeeded partly because of his intuitive mastery of the new media of radio. John Kennedy succeeded partly because of his intuitive mastery of the new media of television. Donald Trump has succeeded partly because of his intuitive mastery of the new media of reality TV and social media. As one writer put it, Trump was the “comments section” running for president.
But there are real reasons to worry about the impact of a political culture built around reality TV and social media. This election saw the ascendancy of fake news sites and fake news feeds, which helped give cover for Trump’s many blatantly false assertions (e.g., that he opposed the Iraq war). The decline of mainstream, curated, edited media has made it harder to define a body of accepted facts. The result is a Gresham’s Law of political discourse, with false and flimsy information crowding out the verified and validated.  This week’s steps by Facebook and Google to restrict fake news sites are encouraging, but do not go nearly far enough.
With the majority of younger voters getting most of their news from social media, and with more Americans tuning in to news sources that align with their own ideological views, there is a real danger that the political debate becomes stuck in two parallel universes, each with their own insistent impression of reality. All this seems to favor the “Populist International,” which relies on the dominance of rage over reasoned discourse. One of the great challenges surfaced by the Trump victory will be to find ways to make this new media environment hospitable for liberal democracy.


Why did pollsters like me fail to predict Trump’s victory?

Why did pollsters like me fail to predict Trump’s victory?

By Stanley Greenberg
Appeared in The Guardian on November 15, 2016.

America is being shaped irreversibly by a growing new majority of millennials, racial minorities, immigrants and secular people. So how did the presidential election produce such a reactionary result, surprising all the pollsters, including me? “Shy” Tories and Brexiters apparently upended Britain. Did “shy” Trump voters upend America?

To understand what happened, you have to start with the demand for “change”.

The elites, academics, pundits and even President Barack Obama look at the US and see a dynamic country that is economically and culturally ascendant. But America is also a country of deepening inequality and growing political corruption. Most people struggle with declining or stagnant incomes, while CEOs and billionaires have taken most of the gains in income and wealth. More than anything, people are angry that the game appears to be rigged by corporate special interests.

Donald Trump managed to become the Republicans’ candidate of change by attacking crony capitalism, trade deals favoured by big business, the billionaire SuperPacs that fund the candidates and Hillary Clinton’s ties to Wall Street. That allowed him to ride the support of the Tea Party and white people without a four-year college degree all the way to the nomination.

But the cry for change coming from the new liberal American majority was just as intense. Bernie Sanders’ call for a “revolution” produced landslide victories with millennials and white Democrats without a four-year degree. This progress nearly allowed him to contest the convention. No less than Trump, Sanders attacked Clinton for her Wall Street speeches and SuperPacs.

Clinton achieved her most impressive leads in the polls when she, Sanders and Elizabeth Warren embraced after the primaries and after her convention speech that demanded an economy that worked for all, not just the well connected. She emerged with her biggest lead when she closed the debates with a “mission” to “grow an economy, to make it fairer, to make it work for everyone”, and “stand up for families against special interests, against corporations”.

That led many more voters to see Clinton as standing for the American middle class, which most working people aspire to, and being better on the economy, truthful and willing to stand up to special interests.

Working as a pollster for Bill Clinton in 1992 and Al Gore in 2000, I watched voters settle into their decisions immediately after the debates. Trump and Hillary Clinton were both talking about change, and Clinton was winning.

But then the campaign’s close was disrupted by a flood of hacked emails, whose release was linked to Russia, intended to show that friends of Bill Clinton were using the Clinton Foundation to enrich the former president, and then by FBI director James Comey’s letter to Congress announcing the reopening of his investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

This allowed Trump to close his campaign with a call to “drain the swamp” and reject “the Clintons’ big business trade deals that decimated so many communities”.

The Clinton campaign fought back. It attacked Comey for his unprecedented intervention and then used its advertising muscle to shift the spotlight from Clinton to Trump. Its ads running right through the very last weekend showed Trump at his worst. By then, nobody could remember that Hillary Clinton was a candidate with bold economic plans who demanded that government should work for working people and the middle class, not corporations. She was no longer a candidate of change.

As President Obama campaigned for her at the end, Clinton urged voters to “build on the progress”. She closed her campaign with a call for continuity and incrementalism. That turn is why the polls turned out to be so wrong.

This was a “change election” for the new American majority too, and that late turn by Clinton produced disappointing turnout among Hispanics, African Americans, single women and millennials. The African Americans’ greatly diminished turnout in Philadelphia, Detroit and Milwaukee likely gave the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin to Trump.

Clinton’s total vote fell well below Obama’s in 2008 and 2012.

The new American majority really did make up the majority of voters for the first time, and they helped Clinton win the popular vote. But their late pull back upended the pollsters’ key assumptions about turnout.

The other change voters, the white men without a four-year college degree, did their part too. They were never shy about their support for Trump, but concentrated in rural and smaller towns in the rust belt, they became even more consolidated in their support for him, put out lawn signs and turned out to vote in unprecedented numbers. Our polls showed him with a 36-point lead before the conventions. But further consolidation and higher-than-expected turnout gave Trump an unimaginable 49-point lead and 72% of the vote among this group. The Trump vote was never shy, just not fully consolidated.

And don’t forget the non-college-educated white women who, after all, are a majority of the white working class. Through most of the campaign, Trump’s disrespect of women and Clinton’s plans for change allowed her to compete with him for their support. She trailed by just nine points after the debates. But with Clinton mostly attacking Trump and no longer talking about change, the women shifted, almost unnoticed but dramatically, to Trump. He won them by 27 points, a nine-point bigger margin than that achieved by Romney in 2012.

These late turns allowed Trump to win Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania by a percentage point.

America has changed, but this change election produced a reactionary result.


The 2016 US Election - Explaining the Result

The 2016 US Election - Explaining the Result

Jeremy Rosner, GQR Executive Vice President and Principal, writes about some of the most key factors that drove the result in this historic election.

Tuesday’s US presidential election was a political earthquake – largely unexpected, deeply unsettling, and hugely consequential. Fully understanding its causes and impacts will take months, but this note provides some initial analysis on five big factors that drove the result:
1. Cosmopolitanism lost to “whitelash.” As in many other Western countries, the US is in the midst of an epic struggle between those who have a cosmopolitan outlook (favoring a multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-religious, globally-connected society), and those who are threatened by the forces helping to create such a society, especially immigration and global trade.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign was premised on a cosmopolitan view (thus her slogan, “Stronger Together”), while Donald Trump’s campaign focused intensely on appealing to the resentments and fears of the latter group – largely white, non-college-educated, and non-urban. That’s why his signature ideas from the start were “building a wall” and “ripping up NAFTA.”
CNN commentator Van Jones labeled this backlash by lower-educated whites “whitelash,” and it fueled Trump’s victory.  His support was 5 points higher among non-college voters, relative to Mitt Romney’s vote in 2012. While Barack Obama won 54% of non-college voters in 2008 and 51% in 2012, Hillary Clinton lost this group to Trump by 44-52%. The heart of this dynamic was non-college white men; Trump won an astonishing 72% of them, according to the exit polls. The surge in support from lower-educated men fueled big margins for Trump in many Republican suburban and rural districts – especially in industrial states, where Trump’s margin over Clinton in some counties was double that of Romney’s margin in 2012.
One of the challenges going forward will be to determine how much of the positive response to Trump’s rhetoric was motivated by prejudice against women, minorities, and foreigners; and how much was an expression of economic and cultural anger from working class voters who felt that Washington – including the Democratic Party – was ignoring them. The two impulses are related, and both were at play to some degree, but understanding the mix matters.
But whatever the reasons that Trump’s strategy and rhetoric helped motivate lower-educated whites, Clinton’s cosmopolitan message didn’t do much to motivate her natural voters – those who would most benefit from a more diverse, tolerant, global society. Despite all the evidence of Trump’s disdain and abuse of women, Clinton actually won less  of the women’s vote than Obama did in 2012 (54% compared to 55%), and stunningly lost the vote among white women by 10 points (43-53%).
Similarly, her vote among African Americans was down 5 points compared to Obama’s 2012 vote (88%, compared to 93%), and fewer African Americans turned out to the polls. And despite Trump’s insults against Mexicans and American Hispanics, he actually received more of the Hispanic vote than Romney (29%, compared to 27%). More Hispanics likely voted than in 2012, but there was no huge surge in Hispanic voting as some had predicted.
Without a big surge in the “cosmopolitan” vote, Clinton needed at least a decent level of support from white voters – but she didn’t get it. Only 37% of them voted for her – less than the 43% and 39% who voted for African American Obama in 2008 and 2012.  In key swing states, like Florida and North Carolina, her support from white voters was even lower – just 33%.
Without question, the US is steadily becoming more cosmopolitan. The share of the electorate that is non-white is growing by 2 percentage points each presidential election (it was up to 30% this year). The diversity and dynamism of America’s population is one of its strongest assets, and is fueling successes from its technology sector, to its entertainment industry, to its “soft power” in global affairs. But cosmopolitanism sets off strong, passionate resentments and counter-reactions, and Democrats found they cannot just ignore these and still hope to win.
2. A continuity strategy was a losing bet in a change election. This year’s electorate was thirsty for change; 62% said the country was going in the wrong direction – amazingly, 10 points higher than in 2012. Trump’s strategy was all about big changes, and he won 69% of those looking for a different direction. More voters wanted “a candidate who brings change” than any other presidential attribute – and Trump won 83% of those who said this.
By contrast, the Clinton campaign often based its message on continuity. It constantly stressed her experience. She repeatedly talked about carrying on the work of the Obama administration. Unhelpfully, in his election-eve remarks in Philadelphia, Obama said his government had replaced his 2008 slogan of “yes we can” with evidence of “yes we did” – as if Americans should feel that the needed changes had been completed.
Clinton could never have run completely as a “change candidate.” She was too much of an established Washington figure to do that. But she could have gone much further to talk about the need for much bigger economic changes – especially the kind of economic changes that many working class Americans feel are still necessary, after decades of stagnant wages and stifled economic mobility.
3. Unsuitability for the presidency was not enough. Clinton and her campaign put tremendous effort into making the case that Trump lacked the temperament to be president. Her speeches, ads, surrogates, and campaign hammered Trump for his offensive actions and comments toward women, racial minorities, Muslims, the disabled, and immigrants; and for being too thin-skinned, impulsive, and uninformed to be a good commander-in-chief.
Despite the ample evidence supporting these attacks, they proved to be relatively ineffective, especially with change-hungry voters who were looking for a positive economic vision. According to the exit polls, even among those who agreed Trump lacked the temperament to be president – and a big 63% majority felt this way – 20% of them said they still voted for Trump. In a year when both candidates had historically high levels of unfavorable ratings, the “pox-on-both-your-houses” voters ultimately still voted for Trump and change. Among the 18% of all voters who viewed both candidates unfavorably, Trump won by 20 points (49-29%). There is a lesson here: attacks on character sometimes work; but they usually have to be related to aspects of character that align with voters’ top concerns.
4. FBI Director Comey’s unethical intervention. On October 28, just 11 days before the election, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress saying the Bureau had found new emails that “appear to be pertinent” to the investigation the Bureau had earlier conducted, which concluded she had done nothing warranting prosecution. By sending that letter at such a late date – which Department of Justice officials told Comey violated Department policies – the FBI director changed the course of the race – enough to tip its outcome.
The well-regarded “Five-Thirty-Eight” website shows that Clinton’s upward momentum died when the letter was released, and that her margin over Trump likely fell by about 2 points in the following days. Exit polls show that Clinton won the vote of those who cast ballots early on, but lost to Trump 42-47% among those who decided in the final week. In a close race, many factors are sufficient to explain the outcome; but Comey’s intervention stands large among them.
5. The polls weren’t great – but they also weren’t so wrong. Finally, no explanation of the 2016 result can be complete (especially from a pollster) without some focus on why the polls mostly predicted Clinton would win. The polling profession faces many challenges these days, from low response rates, to reaching younger voters who lack landlines, to finding accurate ways to poll online. There should and will be a deep inquiry into how these and other dynamics may have played a role in skewing polling predictions.
Yet if the polling wasn’t great, it also wasn’t so wrong. It is crucial to keep in mind that Hillary Clinton did win – in the popular vote, which is what national polls measure. And her final margin – about 1% over Trump – was only about 2-3 points less than what the average of major national polls predicted.
Some polling did get it wrong – particularly in some key industrial states like Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Some of this was about turnout. Polls don’t help much in predicting who will show up to vote, and in US presidential elections, that matters a lot. Many of the polls assumed the racial mix of people who actually voted would look like 2012, but as noted earlier, African Americans had lower turnout than in 2012. There may have also been some Trump voters who were reluctant to tell pollsters that they planned to vote for Trump, given his socially offensive profile and his public criticism of much of the public polling.
But it would be wrong to conclude that the polling was mostly wrong. As many more extensive analyses have shown, the average predicted margin among the major polls was accurate across a wide range of key states, including Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. Greenberg Quinlan Rosner did the polling for New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan in her bid for the Senate – and accurately predicted that she would win, making her one of only two Democrats to beat a Republican incumbent this year. Very close elections – like this one – inevitably lead to more polls that end up on the wrong side. But most of the good polling got things right in 2016.

Congratulations, Senator-elect Hassan!

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GQRR congratulates New Hampshire Governor and Senator-elect Maggie Hassan on her victory over incumbent Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte in Tuesday's elections, one of two Democratic pickups in the U.S. Senate.  Maggie Hassan is an extraordinary public official and leader who embodies the very best qualities of the people in New Hampshire and the nation as a whole. She will be a great Senator.   We congratulate campaign manager Marc Goldberg and chief of staff Pam Walsh for an outstanding campaign that was disciplined but also nimble. 

Maggie  defeated Ayotte in one of the nation's most high profile Senate contestsby 1,019 votes out of nearly 740,000 votes cast by highlighting her record of standing up for the interests of New Hampshire as Governor, including leading the way to expand the state’s innovation economy,  maintaining fiscal responsibility, and expanding opportunity for all Granite Staters.   Maggie framed the election as a very clear choice between someone who sides with corporate special interests in Washington or someone who will side with the people of New Hampshire.

Hassan now joins New Hampshire’s Senior Senator Jeanne Shaheen as the only two women in American history to be elected both governor and senator.  She will also serve as part of New Hampshire’s first all-female Democratic congressional delegation.

GQRR is proud to have been part of the Hassan team since 2012, providing qualitative and quantitative research and strategic advice for Hassan's election and re-election as governor, and for her campaign for U.S. Senate. Led by president Al Quinlan, GQRR's Hassan team includes vice president Missy Egelsky and senior associate Ben Winston, assisted by Lester Polchlopek, Clinton Willbanks, and Trevor Hazen.  

GQRR also applauds the work of our colleagues on Hassan's team, including David Dixon and Rich Davis of Dixon Davis Media Group and Ed Peavy and Jonathan Levy of Mission Control, as well as the campaign’s national finance director Emily Mellencamp Smith, digital director Jane Hughes, research director Josh Loewenstein, and communications director Aaron Jacobs.


On behalf of the University of Southern California Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles Times, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, in conjunction with American Viewpoint, conducted a new survey among 1,500 registered California voters.




Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, in conjunction with American Viewpoint, conducted this survey on behalf of the University of Southern California Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles Times. These findings are based on a random sample survey of 1,500 (1,500 weighted) registered voters in the state of California, conducted from October 22-30, 2016. Interviews were conducted by telephone using live interviewers from Survey Sampling International, LLC. Voters were randomly selected from a list of registered voters statewide and reached on a landline or cell phone depending on the number they designated on their voter registration. Fifty-five percent of this sample was reached on a cell phone. Up to five attempts were made to reach and interview each randomly selected voter.

The study includes an oversample of 400 known-Latino registered voters, with the total number of Latino voters interviewed at 487 (373 weighted). All interviews among known Latinos were carried out via telephone by bilingual Latino interviewers, and conducted in the preferred language of the survey respondent, English or Spanish. Overall, 33 percent of interviews among the known Latino sample were conducted in Spanish and 67 percent in English. The technique of using fully bilingual interviewers yields higher response and cooperation rates and is greatly preferred because it does not terminate calls with Spanish-language households and require a callback.

Upon completion of all interviewing, the results were weighted to bring the Latino oversample population into line with the racial and ethnic composition of registered voters in California. The data was weighted to reflect the total population of registered voters throughout the state, balancing on regional and demographic characteristics for gender, age, race, and party registration according to known census estimates and voter file projections from several distinct voter files.

The maximum sampling error for the overall sample of 1,500 registered voters is +/- 2.3 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. The margin of error for subgroups is higher. The margin of error for Latinos is +/- 4.6 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

This study includes a subsample of 1,382 Likely Voters (1,365 weighted). “Likely Voters” include those who have (1) voted in the last two general elections and report being “almost certain”, “probably”, or “50/50” in their likelihood of vote in Q.8; (2) those who have voted in at least one of the last two general elections and report being “almost certain” or “probably” in their likelihood to vote; (3) those who have not voted in either of the past two general elections but report they are “almost certain” in their likelihood to vote; or (4) those who report having already voted in the 2016 general election. The margin of error for these “Likely Voters” is +/- 2.4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

Establishment Blues In Europe

Establishment Blues In Europe

These are tough times to be a mainstream party or candidate in Europe. Economic anxiety has left voters all over the continent grumpy. Fears about migration, displacement, national identity, and terrorist attacks are kindling anger.

Voters are flocking away from established parties as a result. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel is suffering blow after blow in regional elections as voters shift to the anti-immigrant Alternative fuer Deutschland party. In Ireland earlier this year, the two main centrist parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, won less than a majority of the vote for the first time in the country’s history. Spain has not had an elected government for over nine months because the center-right Popular Party and center-left Socialists have lost so much vote share to new or extreme options.

With the center no longer holding, populist leaders and parties are on the rise. According to the Economist, the populist vote has doubled since 2000. Fully a fifth of European voters back a populist party of the right or left. Such parties hold posts in nine countries’ governments.

The populist roots are diverse. In Western Europe and Scandinavia, the far right is attracting voters into anti-EU and anti-immigrant parties like Geert Wilder’s Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, and Marine Le Pen’s Front National in France. In central and eastern Europe, more nationalist and ultraconservative parties hold power, such as Poland’s Law and Justice and Hungary’s Fidesz. Southern European states hit hardest by the economic downturn, like Spain and Greece, have moved to the far left propelled by the Podemos and Golden Dawn, respectively. Still, common threads of frustration bind all these populist forces together: immigration, jobs, EU, and resentment against a political establishment that seems corrupt, out of touch, or both.

With anger and fear building, the post-World War II tide of integration has given way to a new tide of disintegration. Following Brexit, voices in France, Italy, Austria, and the Netherlands are calling for their own referendums to leave the EU, and regional voices in Scotland, Catalonia, and Flanders continue to press for separation and independence.

As centrifugal forces continue to tear at Europe’s political unity and stability, here are four dynamics to watch - all of which could make life even harder for those who long for a return of stable, centrist politics in Europe:

First, coalitions will be harder to form and harder to hold. Post-election coalitions are often messy by the nature of parliamentary systems and proportional representation electoral systems. Often, there are minor parties that become the kingmaker in coalition deals and then hold the government hostage over fringe issues.

But the rise of populist parties makes it even harder. Beyond the Spanish case, several inconclusive European elections this year produced fractured parliaments, hostile coalitions, and unstable governments. In Slovakia, for example, eight radically different parties won seats in parliament including two from the far right. The result: a weakened prime minister forced to patch together an unstable coalition of rival parties, rife with disagreements.

Second, voters may not reward success. Or at least, they may have a very different definition of what economic success looks like. Even when the macro-economic statistics tell a story of recovery - inducing politicians to pat themselves on the back and ask for another term - voters are often living a different reality. Too many are still out of a job and saddled with new taxes and charges. Even those who return to work often complain the work is part-time, lower salaried, or less certain. Even where the macro numbers look like good news, the reality still feels pretty grim where most voters live.

In Ireland, the ruling Fine Gael party went into their 2015 elections with all of the economic indicators telling a success story. Ireland rescued its banks after they crashed in 2010, exited the bail-out engineered by the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund, and ended austerity budgets. The GDP returned to Celtic Tiger growth rates and unemployment fell back to single digits. But feelings remained raw long after the austerity budgets had ended, and Fine Gael was forced into a minority government of dubious longevity.

Third, referendums are on the rise and they are dangerous for the establishment. There is an easy but perilous attraction to the idea of taking power out of the hands of the politicians and putting it direction into the hands of the people. Brexit, of course, is the prime example. And even though that didn’t end well for David Cameron, his political demise is unlikely to dissuade others from using referendums as a political tool to grapple with populist frustration.

The lure of referendums is almost irresistible to politicians of nearly every stripe. For some mainstream leaders, calling for a direct popular vote is a way to push back on perceptions that they are elitist and out-of-touch. For populist leaders, referendums offer a way to stir the pot further fuel anger against mainstream policies. Yet even some of the populists are getting burned by referenda results: Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban held an early October referendum on his anti-immigration agenda; it got strong majority support - but turnout was so low, well below the mandatory 50% threshold, that, to his embarrassment, the referendum failed.

Finally, Russia is doing its best to disrupt campaigns and influence elections in Europe. The Cold War may be over, but Russia has been waging a Cool War to undermine the EU, Europe’s mainstream parties, and other institutions of European strength.

Russia had long exerted political pressure in neighboring democracies, such as by crashing websites in Estonia and exploiting frozen post-Soviet conflicts in the Republic of Georgia to weaken a democratically elected government. Now Russia has become bolder, directly bankrolling numerous parties on both extremes, such as France’s National Front, Britain’s UKIP party, Hungary’s Jobbick, and Greece’s Golden Dawn. Unsurprisingly, each of these parties praise Vladimir Putin and vocally oppose sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea.

At the same time, Moscow-based online trolls are launching cyber-attacks that propagate fictitious stories in attempts to sway public opinion. Obviously, this effort has not stopped at Europe’s borders: witness the computer hacking of America’s Democratic Party this year, believed to be the work of Russian intelligence agencies. But Russia has a more direct interest and purpose in Europe, where it still longs to regain lost influence, and actively works to hurt the chances of countries in the Balkans and elsewhere from gaining full EU membership. 

With more than a dozen European elections slated for next year, the continent finds itself in its most precarious political position since the fall of the Soviet Union. Disturbingly, with fragile governments, hostile electorates, more frequent referendums, and a meddling former superpower on its periphery, this might just be the new normal.


This article was written by VP Kristi Lowe for the Huffington Post. See it here

Women and the 2016 Elections: Findings from a National Survey of Voters

With the fall political campaigns now in full swing, a recent poll of voters commissioned by American Women* indicates that critical voting blocs of women in the electorate—including millennial women, women of color, and unmarried women—will be a force in this year’s election.  These women have a clear point of view when it comes to their priorities and the issues that matter to them when they head to the ballot box, and candidates can benefit from paying attention to them as they communicate with voters this fall.

While the electorate as a whole sees economic concerns as the most important issue, these women express deeper concerns about economic stresses in their daily life; and as a result, they are more likely to emphasize issues and support policies that address their concerns.  And while these women also have concerns about security issues, their fears tend to focus more locally on gun violence and racial profiling issues than on the issues of terrorism and threats from immigrants and refugees.

The agenda that resonates with these crucial blocs of women voters is well-defined:  they want their elected leaders and candidates to focus on strengthening their economic security, including equal pay for women, job training, college affordability, and paid sick and family leave. They also want leaders who will protect their access to reproductive health care; and they want leaders who will take action to address the gun violence epidemic.

The following memo is based on a national online survey of 1,000 registered voters, including an oversample of 200 women who identify as independent in partisan beliefs and voting behavior, weighted to be representative of registered voters nationally.  The survey was conducted from August 19-25, 2016.


Women view economic concerns as more important than security in this election

Voters view the economy as the more important issue than national security in the November elections by a 61-38 percent margin.  Both men (63 - 37 percent economy/national security) and women (60 - 39 percent economy/national security) believe that economic issues outweigh security by similar margins.  Additionally, growing blocs of influential women voters—including millennial women, women of color, and unmarried women—express a stronger support for economics as the dominant issue in the elections.  The intensity of the preference for a focus on the economy is particularly strong among women of color—73% of whom believe that the economy is the most important issue this election year.  

Figure 1: Economy versus National Security concerns, by subgroup

Women view the economy as the biggest problem facing both the country and their own families. However, for key groups of women, their personal economic situation and concerns outpace other worries by larger margins.

·         In an open-ended question about the biggest issue facing their country, 49 percent of voters volunteer an economic-related response, compared to 29 percent who cite a security-related response.  There is not a strong difference among women, as 51 percent of women volunteer an economic-related response, compared to 31 percent who cite a security-related response.

·         When asked a similar open-ended question about the biggest problem facing their own daily lives, however, women—particularly women of color and millennial women—put economic concerns far and above as their top concern.  Overall, 44 percent of voters cite worries about personal finances, jobs, costs, and the economy as their biggest personal concern.  Among millennial women this number rises to 48 percent, and among women of color, more than half (52 percent) say that economic issues are their biggest personal concern.

Given that women volunteer economic issues as their top problem, it is not surprising that they are more likely to see economic issues as top priorities for Congress and government to address in the next two years. Overall, voters prioritize protecting retirement benefits and addressing the federal deficit as biggest priorities, followed by protecting threats from terrorism and Zika and tackling gun violence.  

However, there are different trends among the emerging blocs of women voters. 

·         Millennial women focus far less on retirement, terrorism, and the deficit, and instead want more focus on helping parents with paid family leave policies, making college more affordable, and reducing gun violence. 

·         Gun violence is also a key agenda item for women of color; it is, in fact, the top issue they want government to address, along with making education more affordable and increasing the minimum wage. 

·         Unmarried women want Congress and the next government to focus on making education more affordable and ensuring equal pay for women.

Figure 2: Top 4 most important things for Congress or the government to focus on in the next two years, by subgroup


Top security concerns for women: gun violence, terrorism, and racial profiling

While women view the economy as most important in this election, this does not mean that they are not also worried about security.  Their fears, however, are not solely centered on terrorism. They also center on threats like gun violence, mass shootings and racial profiling.  Fears about illegal immigration and refugees fall into the bottom tier of security concerns for voters across the board, including various cohorts of women voters.  Women of color express far more serious concerns about gun violence and profiling mistreatment than any other security threats; millennial women and unmarried women are also more likely to be “very concerned” about these issues, though they also worry about terrorist attacks on American soil.

Figure 3: Level of concern about issues by subgroup

These target blocs of women provide clear direction on who they trust and how they want to see these security issues handled by their leaders:

·         Who do you trust to keep us safe? Millennial women trust Democrats over Republicans to keep us safe at home and abroad in the fight against terrorism, and unmarried women trust Democrats more by 8 points.  Women of color are more likely to trust Democrats by 59 points.

·         This widens when it comes to the debate at the top of this year’s ballot.  While voters overall trust Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump (54-45) to keep us safe at home and abroad in the fight against terrorism by 10 points, the margin in favor of Clinton is 18 points with women voters (58-40), 36 with millennial women (68-32) and 37 points among unmarried women (68-31).

·         Women of color, millennial women, and unmarried women all overwhelmingly support taking action to strengthen gun laws in the county.  Eighty-eight percent of women of color support stronger gun laws over keeping the laws as they are, including two-thirds who prefer stronger laws much more than keeping them the same.  Support for stronger gun laws also comes from 77 percent of millennial women and 69 percent of unmarried women.


A clear agenda for making voting decisions

For these emerging target blocs of women, there is a clear separation on issues when it comes to making voting decisions.  The women rank addressing gun violence, ensuring equal pay for women, and providing paid sick leave for workers as most important in their voting decisions, when compared against other issues like immigration and national security.  The top three issues are consistent among these blocs of women, with much larger gaps between the top tier and second tier issues than voters overall.

Figure 4: Most important issue when it comes to making decisions about voting, by subgroup

Women strongly support policies addressing gun violence, women’s reproductive health, and economic well-being

Falling closely in line with the issues driving voting decisions, millennial women, women of color, and unmarried women show strong support for a package of policies that address their economic concerns, as well as tackle important issues on guns and reproductive health care. First, these women are more likely to strongly support policies that speak to strengthening the economic standing for women and families, including equal pay for women, job training, paid family leave, affordable college, childcare, and long term care:

·         Ensure that women get equal pay for equal work in order to make women and families economically secure, protect workers from retaliation, hold employers accountable, and provide salary negotiation training for women and girls.

o   This policy resonates strongly among unmarried women.

·         Provide more skills training and apprenticeship opportunities for good, available jobs that pay.

·         Establish paid family and medical leave for workers who have new babies, are caring for aging parents, or have ill family members.

·         Lower student loan interest rates and rising college tuition costs.

·         Expand access to high-quality, affordable childcare for working families by providing child care tax credits to working parents and providing universal pre-K.

·         Invest in home care workers, who are caring for seniors and people with disabilities in their homes so they can live with dignity and independence.

Tied to this economic agenda, women in these key demographics also strongly support protecting access to reproductive health care and birth control:

·         Stop insurance companies from charging women more for the same health care coverage as men, and fight efforts to end free coverage for mammograms and birth control.

·         Ensure access to reproductive health care, including birth control.

And, they demand action on guns, reacting favorably to any proposal that bucks the status quo:

·         Strengthen gun laws by requiring mandatory background checks and preventing those on the terrorist watch list from buying guns, as well as passing a ban on assault weapons.

These women react negatively to just two policies offered: sending a coalition of U.S. and allied troops to Syria to combat ISIS and blocking all immigration from countries affected by terrorism.  While voters overall only slightly support these proposals, the key blocs of women oppose both proposals.

Figure 5: Policies favored by subgroup


*Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research conducted a national online survey of 800 registered voters, with an oversample of 200 self-identified independent women voters for a total sample size of 1,000. The survey was conducted from August 19-25, 2016.


Independent Women and the 2016 Elections: Findings from a National Survey of Voters

A recent poll of voters commissioned by American Womenshows that politically independent women—viewed as key “swing” voters in the 2016 electorate—express strong preferences for policies and candidates that promote an economic agenda that supports women and families. 

Economic concerns are at the forefront for independent women, outpacing security concerns on both personal and national levels. These women say economic security is a primary factor in their voting decisions, while priorities like building a wall along the Mexican border and banning Muslims from entering the country are among the three least important issues. Independent women strongly favor policies that will grow their economic security, including equal pay for women, access to reproductive health, job training, college affordability, and paid sick and family leave.

This is not to say that these women do not express concerns about security; they worry about gun violence and terrorism as much as other voters in the electorate. However, they worry just as much about security issues in their community as larger national security concerns, and they express clear preferences for progressive approaches on these issues.   

The following memo is based on a national online survey of 800 registered voters, with an oversample of 200 self-identified independent women voters and independent women voters who have voted for both Republicans and Democratic candidates in the past, for a total sample size of 1,000 registered voters and 255 independent women, weighted to be representative of registered voters nationally.  The survey was conducted from August 19-25, 2016.


Independent women view the economy as their central concern

 The state of the economy is driving the concerns and voting decisions of independent women in this election year. Sixty-four percent of independent women say that the economy is the most important issue in this election.


Figure 1: Economy versus National Security concerns, by Independent Women


When asked to use their own words, independent women cite economic concerns as the biggest problem facing both the country and their own families personally, well above national security and safety in both instances. When it comes to the top problems facing the country, independent women, more than half (51 percent) provide a response related to the economy, ranging from jobs and the cost of living to health care and education costs, to income inequality and taxes. Just one quarter of these women offer responses related to security.  In their own daily life, more than 6 out of 10 (63 percent) describe worries over finances, jobs, retirement, and costs of healthcare, education, and childcare as a top problem.

The priorities of independent women in this election year reflect these concerns.  Like the overall electorate, independent women see the next Congress’ priorities like protecting retirement benefits and addressing the federal deficit as its biggest priorities, followed afterward by protecting threats from terrorism and Zika.  These independent women are more likely than voters overall to see economic issues like college affordability and equal pay as the next Congress’ biggest priorities.


Figure 2: Top 4 most important things for Congress or the government to focus on in the next two years, by Total Registered Voters and Independent Women

When asked to rank specific issues relative to their importance in making a voting decision, independent women again place economic issues at the top.  Sixty percent rank making women and families more economically secure among their top three priorities, while 49 percent place supporting parents via paid sick and family leave, and affordable childcare in the top three.  Independent women see addressing gun violence and public health issues as important as well, though more extreme proposals like building a wall on the Mexican border and banning Muslims from entering the country fall to the bottom tier of independent women’s voting issues.


Figure 3: Most important issue when it comes to making decisions about voting, by Independent Women

Independent women strongly support an economic agenda that helps women and families

Given the financial concerns facing independent women and the issues they are considering in making their voting choices, it is not surprising that these women strongly favor policies that will address these economic concerns.  These include equal pay for women and access to reproductive health, job training, college affordability, paid sick and paid family leave, and affordable long-term care.  While these policies are also popular among the overall electorate, independent women express a greater intensity of support for this agenda.


Figure 4: Policies favored by Independent Women and Total Registered Voters

Security concerns among independent women center on issues like gun violence and profiling, with a preference for progressive solutions

While economic concerns dominate the landscape for independent women, these women do also express real concerns about threats at both local and national levels.  They report the most concerns about gun violence and mass shootings (60 percent very concerned), followed by terrorist attacks from groups like ISIS (54 percent) and racial profiling and mistreatment of people of color by law enforcement (42 percent very concerned).


Figure 5: Level of concern about issues by Independent Women

These independent women express strong preferences for aggressive action to address their concerns over gun violence.  Sixty-one percent want to see gun laws made stronger compared to just 39 percent who want to keep gun laws as they are. When independent women are asked about including mandatory background checks and preventing people on the terror watch list from buying guns, an overwhelming 81 percent of independent women prefer that over keeping gun laws as they currently are (17 percent).

A telling trend emerges on the fight against terrorism. Millennial women trust Democrats over Republicans to keep us safe at home and abroad in the fight against terrorism, and unmarried women trust Democrats more by 8 points.  Women of color are more likely to trust Democrats by 59 points.  At the top of the ticket, independent women clearly push back on the foreign policy proposals of Donald Trump. When asked who they trust more to keep us safe at home and abroad, independent women overwhelming choose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, with 63 to 33 percent.


*Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research conducted a national online survey of 800 registered voters, with an oversample of 200 self-identified independent women voters for a total sample size of 1,000. The survey was conducted from August 19-25, 2016.


Populism & Culture - Lessons from Brexit

Populism & Culture - Lessons from Brexit

The UK referendum is another sign that economics is no longer the dominant issue in politics. This presentation given at the Global Progress conference in Montreal sets out key lessons from the EU referendum for politicians and campaigners seeking to answer public concern about migration and identity around the world. 

Click here to download the presentation. 

For more information contact or tweet James Morris (@jamesdmorris). 



The 21 things you need to know to understand why Britain voted Leave

The 21 things you need to know to understand why Britain voted Leave

As the polls closed for the UK’s EU referendum, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner put a poll into the field to understand why voters made the choices they did. Conducted on behalf of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), it shows a nuanced picture. Britain is not divided into two tribes, immigration was central but so was sovereignty. The Remain campaign won the economic debate but it didn’t count for much with Leave voters.

Click here for the 21 things you need to know to understand the result.
The full questionnaire can be found here and data tables here.  

For more information contact or tweet James Morris (@jamesdmorris)

To Leaders Wanting To Hold A Referendum: Think Twice

To Leaders Wanting To Hold A Referendum: Think Twice

The economic and social implications of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union are still playing out, but the political fallout has already begun.

‘Had enough of experts': Why Britain is leaving the EU and what it means for your campaign

‘Had enough of experts': Why Britain is leaving the EU and what it means for your campaign

When Vote Leave campaigner Michael Gove said that ‘people in this country have had enough of experts’ he was expressing the argument of populists everywhere. Today, as Britain and the world tries to interpret this unexpected victory, it is clear that nativist instincts and pent-up anti-elitist resentment can secure victory even in the face of a nearly unified political, business, labour and academic elite. This is a massive vote of no confidence in the establishment.

We wanted to share five key insights into what happened in the UK that may be applicable to campaigns around the world.

1)      Identity politics trumped economic self-interest. In the 1990s, ‘It’s the Economy, Stupid’ was the guiding principle for centre left politicians trying to retake power. Over the last decade, identity has become an increasingly powerful driver of the vote, reaching another crescendo in the UK on Thursday. While the Remain campaign had a monomaniacal focus on the economic risks of Brexit, the Leave campaign built on a sense of grievance about change in the country. Their slogan was ‘take control’, but it could easily have been ‘Let’s take our country back’.

This emotionally resonant message was felt particularly powerfully in post-industrial, working class communities in the Midlands and Northern England; and had particular purchase with older voters. Working with trade unionists who were concerned about the campaign, we conducted a poll two months prior to polling day which showed the clear class and age pattern in voting - polls conducted on polling day show a similar picture:

A key lesson here is the danger of allowing such anger to grow without an adequate response. The Labour party began to lose touch with its working class base soon after 1997, ignored a dramatic fall off of its base voters in 2001, and has kept moving away from them  ever since. The British electoral system allowed UKIP to score 13% of the vote but only 1 of 650 MPs last year. The modernizing, pro-trade centre colluded with the metropolitan liberal left to keep concerns about immigration away from seriously influencing policy. This is the result of that history at least as much as it is a result of campaign decisions over the last few weeks.

2)      The Leave campaign got the better of the message battle.  At the general election of 2015, the Conservative party achieved victory by refusing to talk about immigration. They knew it was a major issue, but judged – correctly – that talking about it would simply focus attention on the topic and drive up the vote of the populist party to their right: UKIP. With a compliant media, they were able to shut the issue down and keep the focus on the economy and leadership.  

They tried to pursue the same strategy in this referendum with disastrous consequences.

This time, the media were unwilling to keep immigration out of the story and we spent days focused on that issue – an issue which Leave led on by 40% or more.

The size of that Leave lead was a result of a second faulty media judgment. The Remain campaign didn’t just try and ignore immigration at the end of the campaign; they ignored it throughout. In the early months of the campaign, when they should have been undermining the idea that leaving the EU would solve immigration, they were patting themselves on the back for keeping the focus on the economy. As a result, that deficit on immigration did not shift at any point.

In contrast, the Leave campaign had a radically different strategy. They spent the first nine months of the campaign trying to close down their deficit on the economy; only turning to their strong suit of immigration at the close. They spent time dreaming up plans for trade deals with India, China and America – not because they thought they would win the economic argument, but because they knew they couldn’t afford to be too far behind on it.

The result of these strategies was that Leave led Remain on immigration by 40 points, but trailed on the economy by just 5.

The Remain campaign let their judgment of the media dynamic determine their message strategy. They got that judgment wrong, and their message wrong.

It is worth noting that this victory for Leave came in the face of a strong, data-driven ground campaign for Remain. Working with the same consultants who the Tories used at the General Election in 2015, they modeled the electorate and used it to guide online ads and field activity. Whether it delivered an uplift in their vote or not is unclear, but it certainly was blown out of the water by their failure on message.

3)      Cameron's short-term political calculations got us into this mess. It is quite peculiar for a Prime Minister to call a referendum to propose something he opposes. There was no great public clamour for a referendum at the time; the proportion of Brits saying Europe was one of their top issues was around 6 percent. Some of Ed Miliband’s strongest debate moments came when he opposed an EU referendum.

And yet here we are.

David Cameron called the referendum almost entirely to pacify rebels inside his party. The Conservative party has had a strong and negative focus on Europe for 30 years. The issue was being used as a tool of division inside the party. To buy quiet, David Cameron felt he had to offer the referendum. Perhaps he was right that his position genuinely was at risk, but as a sitting Prime Minister up against a weak Labour party it is hard to believe he really had to make that call.

4)      Big issues to come. The referendum result unleashes a number of big issues for Britain and Europe. The EU does have provision for a country to exit, but any trade deal requires the assent of every one of the EU’s remaining 27 members. This puts the UK in a very weak negotiating position, particularly given the EU’s desire to disincentivise future exits.

Any deal which allows access to the free market is likely to have provisions for free movement of labour, acceptance of EU regulatory standards and mandatory contributions to the EU budget – precisely the things the Leave campaign wanted to be rid of.

At the same time, some key legislation in the UK – including the Good Friday Agreement which is the foundation of peace in Northern Ireland – have provisions which would be broken by Brexit. Renegotiating such texts may open Pandora’s Box.

On the other hand, the UK’s current account deficit of 7% makes it one of the main sources of demand in the weakened EU.

A new Prime Minister, due to be in place by October, will have to navigate all this with Nigel Farage and UKIP standing at the side, criticizing them for failing to deliver on the spirit of Brexit. They may also face a new Labour leader after a motion of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn was presented today for debate next Tuesday.

5)      Online polls did okay, telephone polls failed. It was at best a mixed night for British pollsters. Only three of nine polling companies got the overall result right;  two of these getting the margin within a couple of points.

The most striking observation is that the online polls were systematically more accurate than telephone polls. This wasn’t just a quirk of the final polls – the online polls consistently showed a much tighter race than telephone.

For the last two general elections, there has been no measurable difference in the accuracy of online versus phone polls after a long period where phone polls were the gold standard. Now, it looks like the baton has been passed online. Whatever share of mobile calls phone pollsters made, and whatever adjustments they made in light of the 2015 polling miss, they were out by between 5 and 12 points on the margin.

It is hard to see phone polls again playing a major role in UK elections unless there are dramatic methodological changes.  


The data from our March message poll is available through an interactive portal here


If you want to discuss this further contact James Morris, Partner in our London Office at



A Struggling Electorate: Findings from a National Survey of Voters

A recent poll of registered voters commissioned by American Women, Voto Latino Action Network and iAmerica Action[1] found that women and particularly millennial women—remain highly negative toward Trump and his views.  According to the poll, women strongly favor a candidate who will push for progressive economic policies, including  equal pay, college affordability, paid sick days and family leave, and reproductive rights. 

The poll also points to a continuing sense of anxiety and economic struggle for voters.

The following are key findings from a national online survey of 800 registered voters conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.


Voters show strong support for candidates who support economic policies that help women and families

Instead of incendiary rhetoric that divides people, voters—particularly women and millennial women—indicate strong support for candidates who are willing to stand up for progressive economic policies that can help with their struggles, including college affordability, pay equality, and paid sick and paid family leave in the workplace. 

American women also have a strong preference for candidates who will protect reproductive health choices including birth control and abortion; more than two-thirds of millennial women say they would be more likely to support a candidate for elected office who took these positions, with more than half (52 percent) who say they are “much more likely” to support a candidate who will work to protect women’s reproductive health choices.

Women are anxious about their economic future, and they want candidates for office to stand up for their economic priorities, including access to reproductive health care, instead of trying to divide people in ways that do nothing to address the economic challenges facing women and families.


Many are struggling—and failing—to get ahead in the current economy, and women are more concerned about their economic situation than men

Voters are unhappy about the country’s direction, with 69 percent of both men and women who say that things in the country are seriously off on the wrong track. 

Economic concerns underlie a great deal of this dissatisfaction, particularly among women.  Fifty-nine percent of women count bills and expenses among their top stresses, compared to 49 percent of men.  The anxiety is more heightened among younger and unmarried women; among millennial women, more than two thirds (68 percent) say bills and expenses are a top source of stress and among unmarried women 65 percent say bills and expenses cause the most stress in their lives.

Women are also more likely than men to report being working class or middle class—and struggling to stay there.  Overall, 35 percent of voters say they are working class, 49 percent middle class, and 15 percent upper middle class or higher.  However, 39 percent of women call themselves working class, compared to 32 percent of men.  More troubling, nearly one quarter of women say they are in this lower class and struggling to remain there; just 16 percent of men fall into this category.  Members of the Rising American Electorate—youth, people of color, and unmarried women—also disproportionately report being working class and struggling.


Despite attempts to capitalize on economic fears, hostility toward Trump remains high for most voters

Views on Trump remain highly negative across the electorate.  Trump receives negative ratings from men and women, as well as older and younger voters. 

Women are some of Trump’s harshest critics. 72 percent of millennial women give Trump negative ratings, as well as 79 percent of women of color and 74 percent of unmarried women.  Democrats and Independents are also very negative; even among Republicans, Trump receives a mixed reaction.

In spite of his highly negative ratings, Trump continues to rely on racist rhetoric intended to further divide voters and appeal to existing racial resentment.  Sixty-two percent of White voters believe that Whites are losing out because of preferences for Blacks and Hispanics. The opposite is true among Blacks and Hispanics, with 79 percent of Hispanics and 98 percent of African Americans who believe they are losing out because of preferences for Whites.

However, Trump’s attempt to capitalize on this resentment and racial divide does not impact many voters.  Only the bloc of voters who think whites are “losing out strongly” (12 percent of our sample) give him positive ratings.  This bloc is disproportionately Republican, older white men, and white blue collar voters.  Even those who think whites are “losing out somewhat” have negative feelings toward Trump, and those who think Blacks and Hispanics are losing out are overwhelmingly negative toward Trump.

The dislike for Trump has an impact on reactions to policy proposals, including on immigration, which has been a central focus of his campaign.  Latinas strongly oppose the isolationist policies promoted by Trump, with 83 percent in opposition to building a wall along the Mexican border and 73 percent who oppose deporting undocumented immigrants. 

Among voters overall, while more than three-quarters (78 percent) of voters favor immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already living here, they split evenly on the idea of building a wall along the border with Mexico.  However, when the wall proposal is presented as a quote clearly from Trump saying, “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall” support drops precipitously to 40 percent, with 59 percent in opposition.

Latinas and the 2016 Elections: Findings from a National Survey of Hispanic Women

A recent poll of Latina voters commissioned by American Women, Voto Latino and iAmerica [1] highlights the important role of Hispanic women in this year’s presidential elections. Latinas express more enthusiasm for voting in the 2016 elections than in the 2014 mid-term elections, driven by very polarized feelings about the political parties and candidates. These women are strongly positive toward Hillary Clinton and Democrats; meanwhile, they view Donald Trump very hostilely, not surprising in the wake of his incendiary rhetoric on immigration.

Latinas face a great deal of stress around money and family, with a diverse set of concerns that covers not only economic challenges but also family and balancing their responsibilities at work and at home. While Latinas, and particularly millennial Latinas, are more likely to report earning less than $15 an hour, these women are optimistic about their future financial situation. They want to support candidates whose policy agenda will allow them to achieve a bright future, including equal pay, college affordability, paid sick days and family leave, and reproductive rights. 

There are opportunities to communicate with Latina voters about these issues in ways that do a better job of reaching them in the places they find information and the sources they trust.  Latinas trust news journalists—particularly in the Spanish-language community—to provide information about politics and issues, whereas other voters rely more on a mix of news journalists and word of mouth from family and friends.  And while these women use the internet, they are on the go and not in front of computers getting information; more than half of Latinas get news and information on their mobile or smartphone, a number that jumps to 81 percent among millennial Latinas.

The following are key findings from a national telephone survey of 400 Latina registered voters conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. The survey was run in parallel with an online survey of 800 registered voters nationally.


Latinas express stronger intention to vote than in 2014 elections

Latinas have an opportunity to be a key bloc in this year’s elections. In this survey, 59 percent of Latinas report voting in 2014; now, nearly 81 percent say they are “almost certain” to vote in 2016.

These women come to this election with very polarized feelings toward the political parties and candidates at the top of the ticket. Latinas express strong favorable feelings for the Democratic Party, President Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton alike, while white men and women view them negatively.  At the same time, Latinas hold a negative view of the Republican Party generally, but reserve their harshest sentiments for the presumptive Republican nominee. An overwhelming 84 percent of Latinas view Trump negatively.

In face of a variety of economic and family concerns, Latinas remain optimistic about the future

This poll reveals some stark realities about the challenges facing Latinas every day:

  • Latinas are more likely than other voters to earn less than $15 an hour; 31 percent of Latinas overall, and 45 percent of millennial Latinas, report earning less than $15 an hour. Among all registered voters, just 21 percent report earnings below that same level.
  • Thirty-two percent of Latinas—and 38 percent of millennial Latinas—say they or someone they know has experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault in the workplace.
  • Latinas report a diverse array of issues that cause stress in their life. While they and the broader electorate all point to bills and expenses as the top stressors, Latinas are more likely than others to also point to caring for their family, their family’s health, balancing caretaking and career responsibilities, and having reliable and affordable child care as big concerns.

However, in spite of these economic and personal challenges, Latinas remain hopeful about their situation and about the future. Eighty-three percent of Latinas say their personal or family’s financial system is doing very well (15 percent) or fairly well (68 percent). When it comes to looking ahead, a majority of Latinas (59 percent) believe their financial situation will get better over the next five years, on par with the broader electorate. Millennial Latinas are the most optimistic, with more than three quarters who say their financial situation will get better over the next five years.



Overwhelming support for immigration reform policies among Latinas

Not surprisingly, strong majorities of Latinas favor policies that would provide not only allow undocumented immigrants to stay in the country and gain legal resident status, but also provide a path to citizenship.  Two-thirds of Latinas strongly favor a path to citizenship, with more than nine out of ten (92 percent) favoring the policy overall.  Just 13 percent of Latinas support building a fence along the border with Mexico; 83 percent oppose the plan.


Latinas show intense support for pay equality, college affordability, and reproductive health policies

Given the concerns facing Latinas and their hope for the future, it is not surprising that they strongly favor candidates who advocate for college affordability, pay equality, and paid sick and paid family leave in the workplace.  The intensity of support is notable here, with nearly 8 out of 10 Latinas who say they would be “much more likely” to support a candidate for elected office who took these positions.

Latinas also strongly support policies to protect women’s reproductive health, with large majorities more likely to vote for a candidate who will protect women’s access to birth control and abortion.  This includes 69 percent of Latinas under the age of 50 and 54 percent of older Latinas. Likewise, half of Latinas say they are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports defunding Planned Parenthood and passing a ban on abortion.



Most Latinas receive political news via smartphones and English-language news, but express strong trust and favorability for Spanish-language news

Latinas turn to smartphones more often than the broader electorate for political news, with 58 percent of Latinas saying they use a smartphone or mobile device to look at political news, compared to 37 percent of voters overall. Among millennial Latinas, the vast majority, 81 percent, use a smartphone or mobile device to look at political news.  

However, television also remains an important source of information as one quarter of Latinas still get political news from television. And while 91 percent of Latinas report that they spend half or more of their television viewing English language programs, they report strong trust and favorability in news journalists generally and Spanish-language outlets like Univision and reporters like Jorge Ramos in particular.  Latinas point to news journalists twice as much as any other source of information on news and politics; 40 percent say they trust and listen to news journalists most, with the next most trusted sources being family, friends and coworkers.

Latinas have the opportunity to be a critical voting bloc in 2016.  They face many economic and family challenges, but are optimistic about their future and want candidates for office to help them by pursuing a policy agenda that will help them turn their hopes into reality, including college affordability, pay equality, and reproductive rights.

Fox News Latino      |      ELLE Poll       |        American Women Polling Memos

GQR’s USC/LA Times Poll Called “Best Poll in the State” after California Primary

GQR’s USC/LA Times Poll Called “Best Poll in the State” after California Primary

The USC Dornsife/LA Times Poll was once again the most accurate statewide poll in California reflecting the outcome of yesterday’s heavily contested Democratic presidential primary contest.

While nearly a half dozen public polls released in the final three weeks indicated that Clinton and Sanders were statistically tied, the latest USC Dornsife/LA Times Poll, conducted May 19-31, 2016 by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and American Viewpoint, showed Hillary Clinton with a 10-point margin over Bernie Sanders among likely Democratic primary voters. Actual poll returns as of June 8th indicate that Clinton will win with a margin of roughly 10.5 points, leading FiveThirtyEight senior political analyst Harry Enten to call our result the “best of any poll in the state.”

The USC/Dornsife/LA Times Poll was also the most accurate in predicting the outcome of the contested Senate primary election. Our poll showed Kamala Harris ahead among likely voters with a 20-point margin over Loretta Sanchez in second, followed by a number of Republicans. Other public polls in the final weeks showed a closer race between Harris and Sanchez. Actual results thus far put Harris ahead by 22-points.

This poll’s accuracy follows a string of successes for GQR and the USC Dornsife/LA Times survey. The poll correctly anticipated the result of eight statewide elections in the fall of 2014, including a number of narrow contests. In the 2014 primary, the USC Dornsife/LA Times poll was lauded for being the most accurate predictor of the gubernatorial primary. In 2012, we correctly predicted the winning side of all ballot measures we tested.  And during the final two weeks leading up to the 2010 election, 10 polling organizations released data on the Gubernatorial and Senate races—GQR’s surveys ranked right at the top in terms of predicting the actual results and we were the first poll to show Governor Brown with a double-digit lead.

You can find the results from the most recent USC Dornsife/LA Times poll here.