Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Names Missy Egelsky and David Walker Senior Vice Presidents

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Names Missy Egelsky and David Walker Senior Vice Presidents

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner is pleased to announce that it has promoted GQR Vice Presidents Missy Egelsky and David Walker to become Senior Vice Presidents in the firm. 

The firm’s two Senior Vice Presidents bring decades of experience in conducting cutting-edge opinion research and providing winning strategic advice to campaigns, government leaders, and organizations.

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This year marks Missy Egelsky’s 20th anniversary at GQR, where she provides research and strategic advice for domestic political campaigns and organizations. She joined GQR as an intern in 1998 and has worked her way up through nearly every role within the firm, from data programmer to junior analyst to senior leadership. In 2014, Egelsky was part of the polling team that re-elected Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and in 2016 she helped elect Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), establishing both clients as the only two women to serve as both governor and U.S. Senator in American history. Other current and recent clients include Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), Congressman Mark Pocan (D-WI), EMILY’s List, the AFL-CIO, and both House and Senate Majority PACs. Egelsky holds a BA in English from The Pennsylvania State University and MA in Political Management from the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University.

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This year marks David Walker’s 30th anniversary as a public opinion researcher and his 15th year advising issue campaigns and domestic political campaigns at GQR. Walker has helped elect some of the leading Democrats of our time, including Governors Mark Dayton (D-MN) and Tom Wolf (D-PA),  Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NY) and former Congressman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ).  Walker has also fought for equality issues with the Human Rights Campaign, helped lead the firm’s efforts to modernize the nation’s marijuana laws, advocated gun violence prevention with Giffords (formerly Americans for Responsible Solutions) and other state groups, and leads GQR’s work with the Small Business Majority. Walker holds a BA in History from the University of Virginia.
 

GQR Partners Anna Greenberg, Al Quinlan, Jeremy Rosner, and Elizabeth Sena said of the two promotions: “We are tremendously delighted to have Missy and Dave become Senior Vice Presidents and take on an elevated position with the firm moving forward. They represent strong leadership at GQR. Both have proven records of winning the toughest campaigns, producing spot-on accurate results in complex races, and providing their political and organizational clients with penetrating insights and advice.”

The need for a sweeping agenda for democratic security

The need for a sweeping agenda for democratic security

By Jeremy D. Rosner

This article was originally published in The Hill, March 27, 2018.

As the Russia investigation continues to accelerate, there is some chance the national policy agenda could experience a seismic shift. Yet there is little evidence our leaders are ready for it.

Of course, nobody knows what Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation will conclude about possible crimes linked to the 2016 presidential election. But the felony charges he has brought against 19 individuals, including 4 Trump aides, and the guilty pleas extracted from 3 of them, suggest bigger shoes may drop. If that happens, the national conversation will change quickly.

Consider what happened in the Watergate era. Just one year before Richard Nixon’s resignation, Watergate was not a dominant issue for most Americans. In April 1973, Gallup found that a 53-31 percent majority said the scandal was “just politics,” rather than something “very serious.”  Through late 1973 and early 1974, although Watergate was often in the news, the country’s agenda was more defined by the Vietnam War and the OPEC oil embargo.

But as the scandal deepened, the national focus shifted toward corruption and political reform. The Congress elected soon after Nixon’s resignation focused intensely on cleaning up campaign financing and other parts of the political system. Jimmy Carter won the presidential election two years after that in part by campaigning on political morality.

There has been too little consideration of how the national agenda would change if the Mueller investigation yields bombshells. Even if that is only a minor possibility, it warrants a major focus on what would follow.

First, at that point, big shifts in public opinion and the public agenda could come very quickly.

Our firm’s research suggests most of the public today is withholding judgment on the Trump-Russia story, waiting to see what Mueller finds. But once his conclusions are out, many who paid little attention to this story will focus intently. It is good to recall that just weeks before Nixon’s August 1974 resignation, a majority still did not feel Nixon should step down. That changed quickly as the White House tapes provided vivid evidence of wrongdoing.

Second, if Mueller’s findings are damning, this scandal will almost certainly play an outsize role in defining the 2018 elections, with voters demanding accountability. A February survey our firm did for Stand Up America found 64 percent of registered voters said they would be less likely to vote for their incumbent House member if Mueller produced evidence of criminal activity by Trump and his team, and if that member of Congress had been involved in efforts to attack or delay Mueller’s investigation. Just among Republican respondents living in districts now represented by a Republican, the figure was still 62 percent — even though 84 percent of these people voted for Trump.

Third, in the event of strong evidence of illegal cooperation with Russia, it is likely a major debate would emerge about how to secure our democracy against foreign subversion. Yet there is little evidence of national leaders so far framing a comprehensive answer. Democrats apparently don’t want to count unhatched chickens; Republicans apparently don’t believe chickens exist.

There are many relevant ideas in circulation; leaders in both parties should be focusing on integrating them into a single agenda; that could include:

Protecting our elections. The Senate Intelligence Committee this past week outlined a good six-point program to strengthen cybersecurity for state election systems and reduce the chances of tampered vote counts.

Social media transparency. Evidence of Russians creating fake social media accounts, and this past week’s stories about potential misuse of millions of Americans’ Facebook accounts, should prompt new rules to require that social media platforms disclose what political ads they are airing, who paid for them, and at whom they were targeted.

Foreign subversion. The Foreign Agent Registration Act, little enforced since its adoption in 1938 to prevent fascist subversion, needs stronger restrictions, disclosure and penalties. The security clearance process for White House staff needs to be tightened. We should require presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns as a security matter.

Healing our democratic culture. Reform-minded leaders might also address weaknesses in our political culture that helped bring us to this point, such as steps to reduce political polarization; to encourage greater political and civic participation; to reduce the role of big money in campaigns; and to narrow expanding inequalities of income and wealth, which political scientists convincingly argue helped fuel the populism and anti-constitutional tone in 2016.

Helping defend democracy abroad. The emerging scandal also underscores the need for a more resolute set of policies toward Russia and other regimes trying to undermine democracy worldwide, including mutual support among democratic countries.

Whatever the particulars, we would do well to consider now what it would look like to have a truly sweeping agenda to secure our democracy — just in case Mueller’s findings are truly sweeping.

Jeremy D. Rosner is a partner at the Democratic polling firm of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. He earlier served as a senior staff member on President Clinton’s National Security Council.

GQR’s Jeremy Rosner featured in NPR segment: "Trade Is An Identity Issue, And Trump Knows It"

GQR’s Jeremy Rosner featured in NPR segment: "Trade Is An Identity Issue, And Trump Knows It"

By Danielle Kurtzleben

Text of the original NPR segment follows.


There is little question that when President Trump holds a rally in Moon Township, Pa., on Saturday night, he will tout the tariffs he imposed on imported steel and aluminum this week.

Western Pennsylvania is steel country, after all, so his message should play well there. But it will likely resonate with millions of other Americans, well beyond steel plants.

That is because, on top of all the economic implications of new tariffs, trade is also an identity issue. That doesn't mean it's overtly a race or gender issue, as the phrase "identity politics" tends to evoke — rather, it taps into a specific idea of what it means to be American. That identity is loaded with nostalgia and emotion, which together have been at the core of Trump's message since Day 1 and appealed to millions of white, working-class voters who supported his campaign.

Trade taps into America's identity as a country that makes things. Political discourse surrounding trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership has a tendency to focus heavily on manufacturing, even though TPP also dealt in large ways with intellectual property, environmental regulations and labor standards.

And that means that messages surrounding these tariffs may resonate deeply with some voters.

"People — especially when you go to Trump voters — they have this view of manufacturing that's really emotionally packed," said Jeremy Rosner, executive vice president at Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner.

"There's definitely a huge, nostalgic '50s, '60s, heyday-of-America, Rosie-the-Riveter-laden kind of thing around manufacturing. So people in those communities who hear Trump or whoever it is talking about protecting those jobs, there's a lot of emotional overtones."

To be clear, trade packs far more than nostalgic resonance for some voters. Those who work in manufacturing and manufacturing-adjacent industries and fear that their jobs or cities will be hurt by offshoring have much more concrete fears and hopes surrounding these types of policy proposals.

But for many other Americans, championing manufacturing evokes an America that — at least, in the rearview mirror — looks rosier.

"Manufacturing is who we thought we were not all that long ago. Think of World War II, right? 'The arsenal of democracy,' " said Thomas Frank, political analyst and author, referencing President Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1940 speech encouraging the United States to ramp up manufacturing.

"That's who we thought we were not all that long ago. That's what the prosperity of lots of places depended on."

Manufacturing is strong ... but not manufacturing jobs

Note the past tense Frank uses there — depended. When Trump (or any other politician) laments the decline in manufacturing, he is talking about a decline in manufacturing employment, which has dropped precipitously since its height in the 1970s.

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But importantly, manufacturing output has grown in recent decades.

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This is in large part about automation. America has been able to crank out a wealth of manufactured goods with fewer and fewer workers, meaning trade won't bring many of those jobs back.

And that means, strictly by the employment numbers, America is far from being the manufacturing country it once was. Rather, it has become an office-worker country, a health care country, a retail country and a government worker country. Those industries that have surpassed manufacturing employment since its heyday.

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But regardless of all that, the industry has maintained a hold on the American psyche, says one GOP strategist.

"It wasn't that long ago that you couldn't find a politician who [would] drive a foreign car. Every car had to be made in America," said Republican strategist Alex Conant. "That sent an important signal to voters that they respected the American manufacturing."

"And then I think culturally, certainly the blue-collar jobs where you punch in and punch out and wear a hard hat or work on the factory floor, those are core parts of the American identity, as opposed to sitting in the office," Conant said.

America's businesses know this, too.

In 2013, AdAge declared it "cool again to be 'Made in America.' " The CEO of a metal stamping company wrote in 2015 at Industry Week that one reason Americans want to buy American-made products goes beyond patriotism — rather, it's that they "evoke our nation's rugged individualism or imply an artisanal mystique."

And these businesses are happy to advertise their potential to boost American manufacturing. When ExxonMobil in 2017 made an ad burnishing the company's image — touting emissions reductions and supporting jobs — it led with a message that it was "powering a manufacturing revival."

Companies further removed from goods production know this, as well. Walmart, which has long championed "made in America" products, singled out its hopes to boost manufacturing in a 2013 campaign. Economists disagree on whether there is something inherently beneficial to manufacturing jobs, as opposed to well-paying jobs in other industries. But in the American mind, Frank said, that is beside the point.

"I can totally understand why people from a completely nuts-and-bolts, strictly numbers-based, reality-based point of view understand why people like manufacturing," he said. He points to the fact that these jobs were both plentiful and well-paying at a time when economic inequality also wasn't so stark.

"People are right to be nostalgic for that, to want that back," he said. "Whether they can get it back is another question."

Trump's politics of nostalgia

For Trump, with his "Make America Great Again" campaign tagline, championing manufacturing fits in perfectly with his message.

"He has an impressively integrated narrative that is very nostalgic," Rosner said. "The phrase 'Make America Great Again' is backwards-looking, It's evoking a time when a certain kind of people felt on top of the world, and it was kind of a white manufacturing, more rural and suburban population on top of the world."

Likewise, Trump's pledge to be the president of "forgotten" Americans is an inherently nostalgic idea, implying that there was a time when these people were front and center.

But trade isn't the only issue on which Trump has painted a rosier past. Many such comments are about broader cultural debates.

"In the good old days, they'd rip him out of that seat so fast," Trump said of a protester at a 2016 rally. "But today, everyone is so politically correct. Our country is going to hell — we're being politically correct."

He has brought gender into his nostalgic politics as well. "All of the men, we're petrified to speak to women anymore, we may raise our voice — you know what, the women get it better than we do, folks, they get it better than we do," he said at another campaign rally.

"Globalization, civil rights, empowerment of women, LGBTQ, the decline of manufacturing, the rise of information technologies, the world becoming less unipolar, all those things are threatening potentially to those who thrill to that era," Rosner said. "A lot of what explains global politics right now is a backlash to those forces, and Trump tapped into it, Brexit tapped into it."

Of course, it's not just economics or national mythos that keep manufacturing front and center on the campaign trail. Straight-up politics plays a big role as well, since battleground states like Iowa, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin happen to be among the states whose economies are most heavily reliant upon manufacturing.

Not only that, but it's also one area where opinions aren't strictly along party lines, meaning there's the potential to appeal to voters on either side of the aisle with trade policy.

Meanwhile, the love of manufacturing will remain embedded in Americans' brains.

"What is the wavelength on national narrative change — national mythology change?" said Rosner. "I think it's long. We still revere the family farmer, and it's more than a century since we've had any share of our population involved in family farming."

So will political ads someday glorify the home health aide, the computer programmer or the grocery cashier the same way they do manufacturing workers? Not soon, Rosner added.

"I think these things change real gradually," he said. "These things are pretty hardwired. They're pretty deep in our DNA."

Protecting Mueller and the Investigation: Results of a New Nationwide Survey

Protecting Mueller and the Investigation: Results of a New Nationwide Survey

By Jeremy D. Rosner

Despite attacks by President Trump and his allies on Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the investigation he is leading, a new survey shows the public believes Russia meddled in the 2016 election, is concerned about it, and is prepared to support Trump’s impeachment if the investigation produces evidence of illegality.

The survey also shows that, if there is evidence of crimes, members of Congress who attacked the Mueller inquiry could pay a high price in November. These polling results send a clear message to elected officials that their constituents care deeply about protecting the Mueller investigation. A strong 64% majority – including 62% of Republican voters in GOP-held House districts – say they will be less likely to vote for their members of Congress if the Mueller investigation produces evidence of criminal activity, and their House member had been involved in efforts to attack or stall the investigation.

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The survey suggests voters would also turn strongly against the President if the investigation produces evidence of illegal actions by Trump or his team, with little variability depending on the details of the crimes. Whether the illegality involved unlawful coordination with Russia, obstruction of justice, or financial crimes by Trump’s companies; and whether it directly involved Trump, or only his top aides - solid majorities, ranging from 58% to 65%, say they would support Trump’s impeachment. In each case, support for Trump’s impeachment includes solid majorities of independents, and about a third of all Republicans:

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Such evidence of a likely public swing against Trump and the Republican Congress, if clear wrong-doing emerges, helps explain the intense, coordinated attacks they have launched on Mueller and his investigation. These attacks may be having some impact; although a 57-43% majority say they have high confidence in Mueller’s investigation, that margin is relatively narrow.

But the survey shows a strong majority feel more confident about Mueller and his investigation once they hear the most basic information about him – and it is worth keeping in mind that Mueller is still not a well-defined figure for most of the public. A 59% majority are more likely to trust Mueller and his handling of the investigation when they hear this statement: “Mueller has an outstanding record of integrity and patriotism. He is a highly decorated former Marine who fought in Vietnam. As US Attorney he served under both Democratic and Republican presi-dents, and built a reputation for fearlessly going after corruption and sticking to facts.”
The public is already highly concerned about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. Already, 65% believe it is true that Russia was trying to interfere in the 2016 election, and 67% say this is a very or somewhat serious concern to them personally, including 36% who say it is a “very serious concern.” As respondents hear about three ways of describing facts already established, the share who say they are “very concerned” rises further, to over 40% in each case:

It is notable, in the messages below, that nearly two-thirds reject the Trump claim that there was “no collusion,” and instead express real concern that the facts already established suggest just the opposite.

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These findings are based on an online nationwide survey of 1,000 registered voters, conducted January 29 to February 3, 2018. The survey was commissioned by Stand Up America; it was designed and fielded by DC-based Greenberg Quinlan Rosner.

Click here to view the original memo. 

COLLIN WARD JOINS GQR TO LEAD EXPANDED CORPORATE & ADVOCACY COMMUNICATIONS PRACTICE

COLLIN WARD JOINS GQR TO LEAD EXPANDED CORPORATE & ADVOCACY COMMUNICATIONS PRACTICE

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Greenberg Quinlan Rosner is pleased to announce a major enhancement of its communications consulting services with the addition of Collin Ward as Vice President and the new leader of GQR’s Corporate and Advocacy Communication practice.  For over three decades, GQR has helped US and global companies, NGOs, and political leaders by providing accurate, penetrating opinion research and helping them to translate it into action agendas. With the addition of Ward, GQR expands its capabilities to provide services such as message and speech development, marketing and communications campaign planning, branding, reputation management, and crisis communications.

“The best communications strategies start with a deep understanding of your audience,” says GQR Partner Jeremy Rosner. “By providing communications services that build on our opinion research expertise, we can help ensure our clients have data-driven, winning ways of telling their story and making their case. With Collin on board, we will be able to meet even more of our clients’ comprehensive needs.”

Ward joins GQR this month after more than a decade working with corporations, political campaigns, and advocacy groups to develop innovative and effective marketing and communications strategies across multiple channels, with a strong focus on the digital world. Before joining GQR, Ward was the Director of Marketing for Women for Women International, a global NGO that works with the most marginalized women in war-torn countries. While there, he aligned the organization’s earned and paid media strategies and rebuilt its digital program. He also served as the Director of Marketing for the Democratic National Committee. At the DNC, he integrated messaging across channels, and brought a data-driven orientation to the marketing department, to increase grassroots support and mobilize millions of supporters.

Prior to the DNC, Ward worked with a variety of corporate and advocacy clients including national campaigns for brands including Safeway, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente, and the Smithsonian Institution. He started his career working with corporate clients at a boutique advertising agency in his native Southern California.

“Collin brings such a high level of communications experience and talent to our firm,”  says GQR Partner Anna Greenberg.  “He has a unique expertise in leveraging data and research to inform, design, and execute integrated communications plans, creative content, and branding strategies, and marketing campaigns.”

GQR is a global leader in cutting-edge opinion research, strategy, and communications. For over three decades, in the US and over 90 other countries, GQR has helped top leaders in business, advocacy, politics, and government understand their audiences, sharpen their communications, move opinion, and achieve their goals. GQR helps its clients through its Opinion Research, Data Analytics, Digital, and Communications practices, with offices in Washington, Boston, Toronto, and London.

Britain Wants to Keep EU Pesticides Regulations Post-Brexit

Britain Wants to Keep EU Pesticides Regulations Post-Brexit

Leave and Remain voters united in preference for strong pesticides regulations

No matter how they voted in the EU referendum, British voters support keeping the EU’s regulations on pesticides after Brexit. Our poll, carried out for SumOfUs and Pesticides Action Network UK, found that 63% of voters agree with the statement “EU regulations on chemicals and pesticides exist to protect people and the environment and should be incorporated into British law after Brexit”, while just 16% agree with the alternative, “After Brexit the UK government should relax EU regulations on chemicals and pesticides which have imposed significant financial burdens on British companies.” Remain voters supported the first statement 77% to 11%, while Leave voters supported it 57% to 23%. This is further evidence that despite the vote to leave the EU, British voters across the spectrum do not find the vision of a deregulated economy persuasive, even when it is sold as an economic benefit.

Meanwhile, both Leavers and Remainers also agree that “The use of pesticides in the UK should be reduced,” not “There is no need to reduce the use of pesticides in the UK” (by 75% to 12% among Remainers and 65% to 20% among Leavers). Strong majorities agree with banning pesticides harmful to human health, harmful to the environment and harmful to bees and other pollinators.

We also found strong backing for farmers seeking alternatives to today’s pesticides, with 78% agreeing that “The government should provide more support to British farmers working hard to reduce their pesticide use.”

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GQR polled 1203 adults in Great Britain between 11 and 13 September 2017. The survey was fielded online and results were weighted to be nationally representative of the adult population by gender, age, region, social grade, education, ethnicity and past vote.

Data tables for the poll are available here, and slides illustrating the results are here.

TUC poll: Workers on zero-hours contracts want more security

TUC poll: Workers on zero-hours contracts want more security

GQR Research shows workers don’t take up ZHCs by choice and most want guaranteed hours

Two thirds of British workers currently on zero-hours contracts would rather have guaranteed hours, while only a third think a ZHC is the best choice for them. GQR’s poll of zero-hours contract workers for the Trades Union Congress also found that workers most often take up ZHCs because they are the only type of work available to them.

The challenges often associated with insecure work are very real for many workers on zero-hours contracts: just one in eight say they are entitled to sick pay and one in fourteen to redundancy pay. 43% say they do not get holiday pay.

These factors are surely associated with the fact that zero-hours contract workers are less satisfied with their jobs than those with guaranteed hours, and more likely to seek a new one.

 The research contributes to the TUC’s Great Jobs agenda, more information is here.

 GQR Research surveyed 300 workers on zero-hours contracts and 2987 other workers, all in Great Britain, online during August 2017. Results were weighted to the national profile of working people, by age, gender, ethnicity, full/part time contracts, public/private sector and industry. The zero-hours sample was separately weighted to national statistics for zero-hours workers, by gender, age, region, full/part-time hours and industry.

Data tables for the poll are available to download here.

For more information, contact GQR’s London Vice President Peter McLeod, on Twitter @mcleodp or info@gqrr.com.

UK: Strong support for banning pesticides that harm pollinators

UK: Strong support for banning pesticides that harm pollinators

Over three quarters support a ban, across the political spectrum

Polling by GQR for SumofUs and PAN, the Pesticides Action Network, shows very high support for a ban on pesticides that harm pollinators. In our survey, 77% agreed that “Pesticides that harm bees and other pollinators should be completely banned.” There is little political partisanship on the issue, with 80% of Labour supporters behind a ban and 79% of Conservatives, while Remain and Leave voters back the ban by 81% and 78% respectively.

GQR polled 1203 adults in Great Britain between 11 and 13 September 2017. The survey was fielded online and results were weighted to be nationally representative of the adult population by gender, age, region, social grade, education, ethnicity and past vote.

Data tables are available for download here

Big 2017 Victories for GQR Clients

Big 2017 Victories for GQR Clients

Congratulations Democrats across the country! In the hard fought victories last night we begin our march forward to 2018.

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner congratulates our victorious 2017 clients, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Seattle Mayor-elect Jenny Durkan, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Manchester, NH Mayor-elect Joyce Craig, Toledo Mayor-elect Wade Kapszukiewicz, and the New Jersey Senate and Assembly Democrats.

  • In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio swept to re-election with 66 percent of the vote. De Blasio’s first term as Mayor was highlighted by steady economic growth, increasing wages, police and criminal justice reform, Universal Pre-K, and an increase in affordable housing. We are excited to continue helping Mayor de Blasio enact positive, progressive change in America’s largest city. GQR’s team was led by Anna Greenberg, Dave Walker, and Aida Bibart.
     
  • In Seattle, GQR was proud to help Jenny Durkan emerge from a field of over 20 candidates to become the next Mayor of Seattle. A former U.S. Attorney under President Obama, Durkan earned 28 percent in a crowded primary and leads with 61 percent of the vote after early returns in the hard-fought general election. Durkan will become Seattle’s first female Mayor since 1926 and first ever openly lesbian Mayor. Congratulations to the entire Durkan team. GQR’s team was led by Anna Greenberg, Ben Winston, and Jason Ashley.
     
  • In Detroit, GQR congratulates Mayor Mike Duggan, who won a resounding 72 percent of the vote and another term as Mayor. Duggan has helped expand opportunity and prosperity as Detroit rebounds and rebuilds from the economic downturn. GQR’s team was led by Al Quinlan.
     
  • In Manchester, NH, Joyce Craig became the first woman elected Mayor in the city’s 171-year history. Craig won 53 percent of the vote, defeating four-term incumbent Republican Ted Gatsas in the contest to run the largest city in New Hampshire. GQR’s team was led by Missy Egelsky and Clinton Willbanks.
     
  • In Toledo, GQR congratulates Wade Kapszukiewicz on becoming the next Mayor of Toledo. As Lucas County Treasurer, Kapszukiewicz founded the Lucas County Land Bank, bringing in over thirty million dollars to improve local neighborhoods.  He has a history of getting results for his community, starting the pharmacy card network saving seniors and others money on their prescription drug costs, and creating a low-interest program for small businesses that helped local businesses create and retain jobs. Kapszukiewicz brings strong leadership, new ideas, and a history of making government work for the community to City Hall. GQR’s team was led by Elizabeth Sena and Jason Ashley.
     
  • Greenberg Quinlan Rosner congratulates the Senate and Assembly Democrats in New Jersey, who each won their largest Democratic majority in decades. GQRR was proud to be a part of the effort and our work was led by Al Quinlan, Ethan Smith and Kelly Higgins.
     
  • Greenberg Quinlan Rosner would also like to congratulate New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, who won a hard fought race despite millions of dollars spent against him. Sweeney garnered 59 percent of the vote in the most expensive legislative race in history. GQR’s team was led by Al Quinlan and Kelly Higgins.

 

*All numbers as of reported returns on Nov 8, 2017.

 

TUC Poll: not enough training opportunities at British workplaces

TUC Poll: not enough training opportunities at British workplaces

GQR Research shows only a third of British workers offered regular training

Just one in three British workers have regular training opportunities at their workplace, and those opportunities that do exist tend to go to older workers in higher-status jobs. These findings are from GQR polling for the Trades Union Congress, released today.

The poll of over 3000 British workers shows 33% had regular training opportunities at work over the past year, while about a quarter (24%) are in workplaces offering no training apart from new starters’ induction. Workers in the A and B social grades (managers and professionals) were twice as likely to get regular training as those in the D and E grades (routine manual and casual workers), at 40% compared to 21%. The age group least likely to have regular training is the 18-24s, at 28%.

We also found that many workers feel they have little or no voice at work: 41% say that big changes happen at work with no staff consultation, while a fifth (21%) say suggestions from staff are ignored by management. Furthermore, 22% say people are stressed at their workplace and management does nothing about it.

The research contributes to the TUC’s work on its Great Jobs Agenda, more information is here.

GQR Research conducted an online poll of 3,287 respondents in work in Great Britain, during 11-24 August 2017. The results were weighted to the national profile of working people, by age, gender, ethnicity, region and job characteristics: full/part time contract, public/private sector and industry.

Data tables for the poll are available to download here.

For more information, contact GQR’s London Vice President Peter McLeod, on Twitter @mcleodp or info@gqrr.com.

New GQR poll shows Democrats erase national security trust gap with Donald Trump

New GQR poll shows Democrats erase national security trust gap with Donald Trump

A new poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner shows a 55- 45% majority of registered voters trust Democrats in Congress more than Donald Trump to handle America’s national security.  This represents a huge 18-point swing toward Democrats since March, when a 54-46% majority said they trusted Trump more.

 The declining trust of Americans toward Trump on national security comes at a time when the country and Trump administration face a host of foreign challenges, from growing tensions with North Korea, to Trump’s recent decision to decertify the Iran deal, to a consensus that Russia meddled in the 2016 US election.

 GQR partner Jeremy Rosner, who served on the National Security Council staff under President Clinton said: “The American public is rapidly losing faith that Donald Trump can keep them safe. The more they watch him handling foreign challenges, from North Korea to Iran to Russia, the less confidence they have in him.”

 The American public particularly lacks faith in Trump’s ability to deal with North Korea – arguably the most dangerous of his immediate national security challenges. The public trusts Democrats in Congress more than they trust Trump to deal with North Korea, by a 57-42% margin. This 15 point Democratic edge is up 5 points just since this August, when Trump first threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” – a sign that Trump’s bellicose rhetoric is undermining his own public support, rather than enhancing it.

 Equally notable: at a time when Republicans in Congress have dismal ratings – CNN polling in September shows 72% of the public disapproves of the job performance of “Republican leaders in Congress” – the public trusts Trump even less than Republicans in Congress on these life-or-death issues of national security. By a wide 62-37% margin, respondents in the GQR poll say they trust Republicans in Congress more than Trump on national security.

 Trump’s mishandling of national security is starting to erode the Republican brand on these issues. In March, voters trusted “Republicans in Congress” on national security more than “Democrats in Congress,” by a large 20 point, 60-40% margin. But nine months of Trump’s tenure as Commander in Chief has cut that margin to just a 5-point, 52-47% advantage. Indeed, the GQR poll shows that on the central threat of North Korea, the public already trusts Democrats in Congress more than their Republican counterparts, by a 53-47% margin.

 The Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey fielded online, October 3-10, among 2,000 registered voters.

For more information, contact GQR at info@gqrr.com.

People Power - Dilemma of Democracy

People Power - Dilemma of Democracy

Back in 2014, a group of high profile Catalans, including FC Barcelona star Pep Guardiola and famed tenor José Carreras, penned an article making the case for the simple freedom to vote on whether Catalonia should be independent. They laid out the argument for holding an independence referendum and concluded by asking, “Who can be afraid of democracy?”

Democracy is nothing to be afraid of, but we should all be apprehensive about referenda.

Referenda are on the rise. In 2017 alone, over 15 countries will have held referenda on more than fifty issues. Last year, 25 countries held referenda on over 200 issues. From Brexit to Catalan to Iraqi Kurdish independence, coverage of these direct democracy votes fill the 24-hour news cycle and commentary floods our Twitter feeds.

The referendum wave comes at a time when populist leaders and parties are also on the rise. One in five Europeans (a total of 55.8 million people) voted for a populist party in 2016 or 2017, according to a summer study by the European Policy Information Center. And last month, Germany added to those totals when AfD went from zero to 94 seats in the Bundestag.

Although the causal connections are complex, the simultaneity of these two developments is no accident. Both movements purport to take power out of the hands of politicians and technocrats and put it directly in the hands of “the people.” Both tap into frustrations about globalization, job displacement due to trade, economic stagnation, income inequality, corruption, migration, and perceived resentments against perceived elitism and political disenfranchisement.

"Referenda often become a vehicle for a passionate minority to impose their will on the whole country"

Both are actively backed by the Russians, who view them as forces to undermine the stability and credibility of liberal democracy, particularly in the trans-Atlantic area. It is extremely telling that populism and referenda share not only wellsprings of frustration, but also secret funders and online helpmates. The spike in referenda mixed with the uptick in populism is a recipe for turmoil and instability.

Referenda are billed as giving a population the chance to have a voice and be heard, but often they become a vehicle for a passionate minority to impose their will on the whole country.

In this 2017 referendum on Catalan independence, the yes campaign used the simplest of slogans: “we want to vote.” Who could be against that? But wanting a voice and caring about the issue on the ballot are two different things.

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that from Germany to France to Spain to Italy, majorities support holding a referendum on EU membership. But this does not mean people want to leave the European Union. For example, while 61 percent of French respondents want the chance to vote, only 22 percent would actually vote to leave. In theory, citizens want a say in their future. But that does not equate to a passion for or interest in the issue on the table.

Rather than “letting the people decide,” referenda are typically a recipe for “letting a minority rule.” In Catalonia, only 43 percent came out to vote.  In Colombia’s referendum on the FARC peace deal last year, just 37 percent cast a ballot. This makes it difficult to say the people have spoken.

Referenda create a distorted binary choice that voters are ill-equipped to decide. They take incredibly complicated issues and put them in the hands of people without the knowledge or capacity to make informed decisions. Not only are the policy issues at stake complex, the wording of the question on the ballot is often technical. Therefore, campaigns often hijack the issues at hand and reframe the intricate policy decisions into binary, emotion-laden choices.

Campaigns play on these emotions – both fears and aspirations – but often fail to responsibly debate the practicalities of the result. Only after the Brexit vote did people start having a real discussion about the hard practical truths of leaving the EU. In the days after the Catalan referendum, there was equal confusion about what happens next and what an independent Catalonia looks like in terms of EU membership, trade, and families who would be separated.

"Should human and civil rights issues ever be put to a popular vote?"

For decades, California has offered the world a warning on the perils of direct democracy. With 17 ballot measures last year alone, $473 million was spent on these direct democratic campaigns that have become a blessing for special interests and extremists pursuing laws with murky ramifications. These ballot measures also devalue representative democracy by sidestepping lawmakers who were elected to deliberate over complex issues in favor of decisions via mass gut impulses.

Proponents say direct democracy engages citizens. They say referenda can bring attention to issues that are in gridlock. Some could argue that without a referendum, the hard discussions in the UK or Colombia and now Catalonia would never have happened – the vote forced difficult issues to a head and brought opposing factions to the table. Some also point to the 2016 vote on same sex marriage in Ireland as evidence that referenda can progress human rights issues with a popular stamp of approval. It was the first time a country adopted marriage equality by national referendum - it was an inspiring and important milestone in the world’s changing attitudes on the issue. 

But the very next year the voters in another island country, The Bahamas, decided against enshrining gender equality into their constitution.

This begs the question: should human and civil rights issues ever be put to a popular vote? Majorities can give rights, but then they can also take rights away with direct democracy. That should give some pause to “the people” and make us all afraid.

 

This article was originally published in Europe's World Online

Kristi Lowe is a Partner at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a global polling, strategic communications and campaign management consultancy

Brexit: Single Market membership may be possible, but the barriers are significant

Brexit: Single Market membership may be possible, but the barriers are significant

GQR insights published over the past week show the scale of the political challenges of Brexit. For those hoping to see an economically rational, trade-preserving “soft” Brexit, there is some hope to be had in public opinion, but key aspects of such a deal face serious threats. Here are four opportunities and two threats that pro-EU campaigners should be aware of.

Opportunities

Concern about Brexit is rising

The context for the current round of talks is increased public concern about the consequences of Brexit. The proportion of voters saying they are more worried than hopeful about Brexit has risen from 41% in March to 47% now. Support for a second referendum that could keep Britain in the EU once the Brexit deal has been negotiated has also risen, although it still stands at only 34%. Strong Remainers will hope that as Brexit comes into focus through the talks, that concern solidifies.

Voters agree Britain needs a deal

We also found strong support for Britain to make a deal. Only 34% agree with the Prime Minister’s assertion that “no deal is better than a bad deal,” compared to 52% who agree that leaving without a deal “would be a disaster for Britain”.

Focus on trade and Northern Ireland

Trade is seen as more important than control. We described the European Economic Area as “the closest trading relationship possible with the EU”, and asked voters to choose between this and Britain having either more control over its laws, or being able to control EU immigration. In both tradeoffs, EEA membership was more popular, winning 51-34% over “stop accepting EU laws and regulations” and 48-37% over “full control over immigration from the EU”.

In a further sign of Brits’ reluctance to change the status quo, 47% said it would be unacceptable to introduce border and customs checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic, compared to only 31% saying this would be acceptable. Unlike most of our questions on Brexit, this result was consistent across Labour and Conservative voters – neither side wants to see a new hard border in Ireland. Even people who voted Leave in the referendum were evenly split on the issue.

Keeping EU regulations unlikely to be a problem

Our polling for CHEMTrust and SumofUs should set aside the notion that the Brexit vote was for an “offshore” Britain where companies can escape from EU regulations. We found strong majority agreement among both Remain (73%) and Leave (62%) voters that “There should be no reduction in regulatory standards that protect people and the environment from potentially harmful chemicals when the UK leaves the EU.” This mitigates in favour of Britain keeping the regulatory harmony with the EU that permits low-friction trade.

Threats

Legal jurisdiction is a challenge

The obstacles to Britain remaining in the EEA are big. British voters reject the continued jurisdiction of European courts, which are essential to regulating disputes between EEA members. 59% of Brits agreed that after Brexit, Britain should not be bound by the decisions of European courts, compared to only 25% saying the country should accept their judgments on disputes with EU organizations.

The bill is another stumbling block

Continued payments to the EU are desperately unpopular, and even if the government negotiates a big discount, it probably won’t be enough. A majority of 61% would reject paying the EU £50bn as part of a Brexit deal, while just 23% would pay. If the cost were just £30bn, 54% still would not pay compared to 29% who would.

What next

It appears inevitable that most if not all voters will be disappointed with whatever form Brexit takes. Not only are Leave and Remain, Labour and Conservative voters’ demands different, they are also internally incompatible. There will be no close trading relationship with the EU without Britain accepting some influence from European courts; if we leave the EEA trade will suffer and there will likely be some form of new border controls in Ireland. Pro-EU campaigners and hard Brexiters are each trying to sell a package of some pain and some gain. Prepare for intense attacks from both sides, and for a long campaign: the Prime Minister’s push for a transition period after March 2019 means the final outcome will likely not become clear until 2021 or later.

 

Other coverage of this polling

CHEMTrust/SumofUs on chemicals regulations

o   CHEMTrust: What is the will of the UK people on hazardous chemicals?

o   SumofUs: Nearly two-thirds of Brits want to keep EU chemical safety standards after Brexit

o   GQR: Data table

Politico coverage on Brexit

o   Support grows for second Brexit vote: More than half of UK voters think a £30 billion Brexit divorce bill would be unacceptable.

o   UK public rejects ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario, new poll results say: Prime Minister Theresa May reiterated her view that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ last week.

o   Britain’s ‘have cake and eat it’ stance on Brexit: Leave and Remain voters are still deeply divided but agree on one thing — they don’t want to pay a Brexit bill (analysis).

o GQR: Data tables

UK: No deal is a bad deal

UK: No deal is a bad deal

GQR poll with POLITICO shows public disagrees with Theresa May’s “no deal is better than a bad deal” line on Brexit

GQR polling published today by POLITICO shows British voters disagree with Theresa May’s repeated claim that when it comes to the Brexit negotiations with the European Union, “no deal is better than a bad deal.”

Given a choice between two opposing statements, “Cooperation with the EU is essential to our economy. Leaving without making a new deal on things like trade and border controls would be a disaster for Britain,” or “No deal is better than a bad deal. If the EU will not offer Britain a good deal then we should leave without one,” 52% picked the former and only 34% the latter.

These choices are strongly associated with how people voted in the referendum: 61% of Leave voters chose “No deal is better than a bad deal,” while an overwhelming 79% of Remain voters picked the opposite, “Cooperation with the EU is essential…” The choice also splits along party lines, with Labour voters picking cooperation by a 67-24% margin and Conservatives picking no deal by 59-32%.

The poll also suggests the public are open to continued membership of the European Economic Area as a final outcome of Brexit. In another test, we offered the choice “After Brexit, Britain should stay part of the European Economic Area so it has the closest trading relationship possible with the EU,” and opposed it with arguments around sovereignty and immigration.

When faced with the sovereignty counter-argument, “After Brexit, Britain should leave the European Economic Area, reducing trade with the EU, so it can stop accepting EU laws and regulations,” 51% chose being part of the EEA and 34% leaving. When faced with a counter-argument on immigration, “After Brexit, Britain should leave the European Economic Area, reducing trade with the EU, so it can have full control over immigration from the EU,” 48% chose EEA membership and 37% chose leaving.

Data tables for the poll are available to download here.

For more information, contact GQR’s London Vice President Peter McLeod, on Twitter @mcleodp or info@gqrr.com.

UK: No to Post-Brexit deregulation

UK: No to Post-Brexit deregulation

GQR poll with SumofUs and CHEM Trust shows support for maintaining chemicals safety standards after Brexit

Our latest UK poll, conducted for global consumer campaigning group SumofUs and CHEMTrust, shows strong support among voters for maintaining EU regulatory standards on chemicals after Brexit.

Overall, 63% of voters agree that “There should be no reduction in regulatory standards that protect people and the environment from potentially harmful chemicals when the UK leaves the EU.” Crucially, unlike some aspects of Brexit, there is no difference between Leave and Remain voters on this issue, with 62% of Leavers in agreement.

We also found voters in strong agreement with a key principle behind chemicals regulation – that chemicals identified as hazardous should be substituted where possible with safer alternatives. Again, support for this position cuts across political lines, with 84% of Remain and 83% of Leave voters opting for this view, rather than the alternative that companies may use any substance deemed to have low or manageable risk.

GQR conducted the nationally representative online poll of Great Britain between 11 and 13 September. The total sample was 1,203 adults aged 18 and over; data was weighted to the national profile by gender, age, region, ethnicity and social grade. Data tables are here.

For more information, contact GQR’s London Vice President Peter McLeod, on Twitter @mcleodp or info@gqrr.com.

UK: doubts about Brexit

UK: doubts about Brexit

GQR poll with POLITICO shows increased worries about the outcome of Brexit and growing support for a second referendum, along with significant stumbling blocks to a deal

A new poll from GQR, published today by POLITICO, shows British voters’ worries about Brexit are gradually mounting, with concern up 6 points since March and support for a second referendum that could keep Britain inside the EU also up.

Several Brexit challenges will be difficult to resolve with the public. We saw strong rejection of a “divorce bill,” with a split-sample test indicating that even a big reduction in the size of the bill (£30bn compared to £50bn) would still see a majority reject it.

Neither do Brits want European courts to retain influence in the UK, 59% choosing “After Brexit, Britain should not be bound by the judgments of European courts” over just 25% picking the alternative “After Brexit, Britain should continue to accept the judgments of European courts on disputes it has with EU organizations.”

Yet Brits also do not want Brexit to introduce a hard border in Ireland. By 47 to 31%, voters chose “After Brexit, it would be unacceptable for there to be border and customs checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland,” instead of “It would be acceptable to introduce border and customs checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit.”

Data tables for the poll are available to download here.

For more information, contact GQR’s London Vice President Peter McLeod, on Twitter @mcleodp or info@gqrr.com.

TUC Survey of Working People

TUC Survey of Working People

GQR poll for the TUC shows 1 in 8 workers in the UK skipped meals to make ends meet

A major new study carried out by GQR for the UK’s Trades Union Congress shows the extent of financial hardship facing working people in Britain: one in eight workers have skipped a meal due to lack of money; one in six have gone without heating in cold weather; and one in four would not be able to pay an unexpected £500 bill.

In the midst of a growing cost-of-living crisis, the TUC commissioned this poll to gauge the impact on workers of stagnant wages and rising prices. GQR designed and carried out the survey of 3,287 working people in Great Britain aged 16 and over. Fieldwork was conducted online and the results were weighted to the national profile of working people by age, gender, region, ethnicity, full/part-time work, public/private sector and industry.

Data tables for the poll are available to download here.

For more information, contact GQR’s London Vice President Peter McLeod, on Twitter @mcleodp or info@gqrr.com.

Messaging on the Russia Investigation: Findings from New Battleground Survey and Focus Groups 

Messaging on the Russia Investigation: Findings from New Battleground Survey and Focus Groups 

By Jeremy D. Rosner and Anna Greenberg

 

Results from a new survey and focus groups conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner provide guidance for all who are addressing the scandal enveloping the Trump administration regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election. The research shows voters in 2018 battleground congressional districts want to protect the investigations into the scandal; they oppose any move by President Trump to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller; and they reject the idea of Trump pardoning either himself or his top aides and family members. Although the Russia scandal is not the top concern, the research shows this issue is motivating to potential Democratic voters.

Even with the Russia investigation in its early days and the election more than a year off, Democrats already enjoy a notable enthusiasm edge in these battleground districts. Across the 99 districts sampled, 61% of self-identified Democratic voters say they are extremely enthusiastic about voting for Congress in 2018 (10, on a 0-10 scale), compared to only 48% of self-identified Republicans. Notably, the Democratic generic vote and the party’s enthusiasm edge over Republicans both rise even after a prolonged and balanced discussion of the Russia investigation.

The research findings are especially notable since both the survey and focus groups are based only on voters in battleground House districts – with 79 of the 99 districts sampled in the survey now represented by Republican House members. That means the survey results lean more Republican than a full nationwide survey, and provide guidance on how to communicate this issue in some of the toughest and most competitive settings.

Overall, two messages dominate across the potential Democratic electorate; the first is particularly effective with broad audiences, while the second is most effective with Democratic audiences, including the Democratic base (below, we discuss why these messages work and the building blocks for effective messaging):

The research highlights 10 key points that inform why these two messages have power, and how Democrats and progressives should structure their messages on this set of issues:

1. Stress the need to protect the investigation. Voters want the facts behind this scandal to come out, and strongly reject moves by Trump to cut off the investigation or potential prosecutions. By a two-to-one margin, 60-29%, survey respondents say they would disapprove if President Trump and his team fire Special Counsel Mueller in the coming weeks; this includes 44% who strongly disapprove. Even in the 79 districts that are now Republican-held, the margin is essentially the same, 59-30%. If he were fired, by a 67-26% majority, they would support Congress naming a Special Prosecutor in his place.

2. Do not invoke impeachment. Most voters feel it is premature to talk about impeachment. Voters feel less favorable about a message when it includes a call for Trump’s impeachment –that is equally true among Democratic voters, and even base Democrats. As noted below, however, findings by Mueller against Trump and his team could quickly generate majority support for impeachment.

3.  Draw a line against pardons. An overwhelming 86-10% majority says Trump should not be allowed to pardon himself from criminal prosecution – a possibility the President and his team reportedly examined. Even among self-identified Republicans, an overwhelming 74-19% majority objects to the idea of the President pardoning himself. Respondents also oppose the President pardoning his aides and family members by a strong 69-27% margin.

4. Note that Russian hackers attacked voting systems in 39 states. This emerges as the single most troubling fact from the scandal so far, and strikes at the heart of people’s perceptions of the democratic system. As a man in one of the focus groups says, “If we lose track of our votes we’re pretty much screwed.”

5. Call out the Russia-related lies by the Trump team. Voters are also irate about Trump’s aides and family repeatedly lying about their many interactions with various Russians. Told about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer, a woman in the focus groups asks, “If they lied about this one incident what else are they lying about?...What were they covering up?”

6. Stress the national security implications. Voters – particularly swing voters – are sensitive to the scandal’s national security implications; 74% in the survey expect Russia and other countries to try to interfere in future US elections; many worry that next time it could be North Korea.

7. Advocate for a bipartisan commission. A 64-33% majority favors creating an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the Russia scandal. Many in the focus groups are drawn to the idea that such a commission would include members who come from outside of Congress, and would have a responsibility to report to the public at large. If Trump were to fire Mueller, support for such a commission rises even higher, to a 72-22% majority.

8.  Advocate for a law against foreign campaign meddling. There is also strong 66-26% support for enactment of a new law to bar foreign governments or entities from interfering in US campaigns. Many focus group participants are stunned that such a law does not already exist.

9. Stress the need for bipartisan action. Focus group participants respond strongly when Democrats say both political parties should unite on this issue, since Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election threatens the interests of the country as a whole.

10. Be aware that new events may significantly change the landscape. This is a fluid issue, and voters show a strong inclination to shift their position as new facts emerge. Presented with a hypothetical that Mueller finds members of Trump’s team illegally worked with the Russians to undermine the 2016 elections, and that Trump personally was involved, a 62-34% majority declare their support for Trump’s impeachment. This is one of many indications that new developments in this set of issues are likely to create significant changes in the messaging terrain.

The survey results are based on 1,000 telephone interviews with likely 2018 voters in the country’s 99 most competitive congressional battleground districts (79 currently Republican held; 20 Democratic held), conducted July 27 to August 1, 2017. Half of the interviews were conducted by landline, and half by cell phone. The results are subject to a margin of error of +/- 3.1%. In addition to the survey, the research included six focus groups in battleground districts, conducted July 18 to July 20, 2017, in Orlando, Cincinnati, and Las Vegas. The survey and focus groups were designed and conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, and funded by a coalition including: American Bridge; End Citizens United; MoveOn; and Stand Up America.

 

Click here to view the original memo. 

UK politics may look unpredictable, but four signals can show us a great deal

UK politics may look unpredictable, but four signals can show us a great deal

GQR Vice President Peter McLeod writes occasional columns on UK politics for politics.co.uk, where this article first appeared. GQR was pollster to Labour at the 2015 UK general election but does not work with the current leadership.

After an election campaign that saw an unusual (but not unprecedented) amount of movement in the polls, things have settled down somewhat. Labour has maintained a narrow lead since the election, averaging 42-45%, with the Conservatives back on 40-41%.

But the current stability feels very much like the eye of the storm. It’s difficult to think of another time when there has been such uncertainty in our politics. By the next election the Tories will have a new leader and the Article 50 Brexit negotiating deadline will probably have passed. But whether we have secured a transition arrangement, extended the negotiating deadline or crashed out of the Union with no new agreement at all, the full consequences of Brexit will barely have begun to take effect.

The identity of the new Tory leader and the twists and turns in the Brexit negotiations will of course have enormous impacts on the next election. So in the context of such uncertainty, what can the polls and wider events of today really tell us about the parties’ electoral prospects? There are four signals I’d pay particular attention to.

First, let’s remember not to be stupid: it’s the economy. The untold story of June’s election is that, with growth weak and real incomes falling, no sensible politician would have called it. The Tories seem to have thought that Brexit combined with Corbyn’s catastrophic (at the time) personal ratings gave them a holiday from political reality; it turns out there’s no such thing.

It’s not just that headline economic numbers were poor, voters were really feeling it. On June 9th we went into field with a poll for the TUC, similar to one we did straight after the 2015 election (and following the EU referendum last year). Whereas in 2015 voters were upbeat about the economy, this year’s survey showed they thought it was getting worse, not better, by 54-32%. More important, more voters said their own finances were getting worse (46%) than better (35%). Compare that to the 2015 election, when only 26% thought the economy was in decline and 60% that it was improving, while 39% had their own finances worsening and 44% improving. Looking ahead, uncertainty due to Brexit will continue to be a drag on the economy; if the numbers do carry on getting worse, especially real incomes, the Conservatives’ prospects at the next election will become yet grimmer.

Second, the impact of the Brexit negotiations on the Conservatives. A surprising fact about the election, given the result, is that to some extent Theresa May got what she played for. Voters who rated Brexit and Britain’s relationship with the EU as one of the three most important factors in how they voted plumped for the Tories, rather than Labour, by 62-22%. May’s problem was that not enough of the electorate bought her framing of the election – only 52% rated Brexit a top-three priority. Among the other 48% Labour won 62-24%.

The danger for the Tories is that the negotiations could begin to erode the advantage they enjoy among people who rate Brexit as important. This week’s row over American chlorine-washed chicken opened a divide between leading Tory Brexiteers Liam Fox and Michael Gove. There are surely much more serious disputes to come. Between 2015 and 2017 the percentage of voters rating the Conservatives “competent” dropped from 57% to 49%. It had been one of their key advantages over Labour, but the gap has narrowed. More of the same around Brexit and they will be in real trouble.

The third sign to watch is public services. In our TUC poll, the one issue that more people said was critical to their vote than Brexit was the NHS. Labour’s pledge to give it £30bn extra funding over the course of the next Parliament was by far its most important – even among its newer, younger supporters. Seven years of cuts have taken their toll on the Tory brand, and Labour’s decision to run an explicitly anti-austerity campaign was a good one.

A crucial enabling factor was Theresa May dropping the Cameron-Osborne mantra of a “long term economic plan.” They had managed to maintain this justification for austerity since before the 2010 election, but May’s abandonment of it opened up political space for Labour to promise more spending without sounding fiscally irresponsible. Labour will look to highlight cuts and the damage they’ve done as often as possible; if they are backed up by big scandals and stories about hospitals and schools failing Britain, the Tories’ position will look extremely weak.

The fourth thing to watch out for is Jeremy Corbyn’s performance. To get to its 41% vote share Labour relied heavily on bringing in new voters – nearly 1 in 6 Labour voters had not turned out at all in 2015. This group’s continued enthusiasm is by no means guaranteed. Labour’s new voters are strongly anti-establishment so besides his enthusiasm and confidence as a campaigner, Corbyn’s other great asset was his clear outsider status. But those voters are also pro-EU: 59% voted Remain, 39% Leave. This means there are two risks inherent in the party’s current divide over Brexit. The first is simply that it puts the leadership at odds with many MPs, party members and voters; the second, more subtle risk is that the struggles to define and then redefine Labour’s Brexit position make Corbyn look more and more like a standard-issue politician. It will be much harder for him to whip new voters into a revolutionary fervour if he appears to be taking positions out of expediency rather than conviction. The risk here is not so much that these voters switch to another party as that they switch off altogether: watch the numbers for “certain to vote” among the under-35s for signs that the Corbyn-as-outsider effect is wearing off.

As ever, a flurry of good or bad headlines still has the capacity to change a party’s fortunes. But if three or four of these signals are all pointing the same way, that’s a good indication of which way the tide is moving.

To Short-Circuit Populism, Start by Fighting Corruption

To Short-Circuit Populism, Start by Fighting Corruption

By Jeremy D. Rosner
 

This article appeared on HuffPost August 7th, 2017. See it here
 

Around the world, concerned citizens and leaders are looking for ways to push back on the populist wave that threatens to wash away progressive priorities, such as compassionate treatment of migrants, rights for ethnic and religious minorities, and more integrated global responses to trade, climate change, and other transnational challenges. The Brexit vote, the Trump victory, the rise of illiberal regimes in Hungary, Poland and Turkey, the strong results for far-right nationalists in France, the Netherlands, and elsewhere – all these raise the question of what can be done to ease the anger and distrust that voters appear to be feeling worldwide.

Given that imperative, one major solution oddly continues to get short shrift: a stronger global fight against corruption. It is one of the most important things world leaders could do today to improve living conditions, reduce growing wealth and income inequalities, and restore trust in public institutions.

Voters are plenty focused on the problem. According to Pew and Gallup, corruption is a top concern worldwide. And recent country-specific studies – from the US, to the EU, to Mexico, to Russia, to China, to India, and many other countries – all show high public outrage over national corruption.

Voters’ outrage makes total sense. The Panama Papers revealed how aggressively the world’s ultra-wealthy and ultra-criminal elements use secret accounts to hide and shield their riches. The Odebrecht scandal, which has touched a dozen different Latin American countries and contributed to an impeachment in Brazil, involved hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes in the region, in order to help the company get billions in construction projects. All told, the World Economic Forum estimates that the cost of corruption could equal 5% of global GDP; today, that would mean as much as 3.7 trillion dollars stolen from average citizens around the world each year.

This isn’t only a moral offense. Global corruption is a major factor dragging down living conditions – and therefore driving up public outrage and susceptibility to populist rants. According to the World Bank, government corruption drives up tax evasion, undermines efforts to reduce poverty while increasing income inequality, distorts decision-making in public projects, encourages inefficiency in the private sector, wastes human resources, scares away investors, delegitimizes government institutions, and fuels other kinds of crimes.

The policy solutions for corruption depend on the individual structures and problems in each country; to paraphrase Tolstoy, all corrupt countries are corrupt in their own ways. But our work in global elections suggests there are overarching tactical and communication strategies that leaders around the world can successfully adopt in the fight against corruption. Up to this point, populist leaders have often been the quickest to use these. But there is no reason mainstream parties and leaders should cede this ground to the anti-systemic; if progressive leaders truly want to bring economic prosperity to more of their people, they need to tackle corruption head on. A few points of advice on doing so:

Start where citizens are; sequencing and coordination matter. There is no silver bullet when it comes to the fight against corruption. For example, some analysts call for increasing wages for public sector employees to fight corruption. Sometimes that is the right step; but it may not automatically lower the flow of bribes if other powerful interests are present. In Pakistan, for instance, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation found that wage raises had no effect in the country’s problematic forestry sector. Rather, despite their higher salaries, officials were still able to extract extra fees on the promise of preferential service to well-funded elites.

In addition, leaders must prioritize which actions should come first, depending on the country’s specific problems. Governments that are too large may lower their rates of corruption by shrinking in size and eliminating bureaucracies. If the problem is high-level corruption, where certain functionaries are building vast wealth, the aim should be to lower gains from corruption. In the case of Odebrecht, this could mean applying oversight to bidding on projects that exceed a certain cost.

Sequencing is also a communications issue. Donald Trump, for all his faults, knew this. Before he promised to Make American Great Again, he told voters he understood how the system works. The early days of the Trump campaign focused on his background as a businessman, suggesting he did not need to enrich himself through politics or public office. He regularly bragged about his own campaign contributions to both sides (including to Hillary). Trump knew that corruption and dirty money can be an entry point to dissatisfied voters. Few moderate candidates start here, but leading with a harsh critique of a corrupt or compromised system may help to reach disaffected voters and take some of the wind out of the populists’ sails.

Bold moves to make progress and signal seriousness. Some problems require a more absolute approach. Where corruption is endemic, variations on shock therapy may not only be needed, but welcomed by weary publics.

In India, with a large informal economy, Narendra Modi won the 2014 election with a promise of anti-corruption efforts to promote economic growth and development. He took dramatic steps with the process of demonetization, promising to remove “dark money” from the Indian economy and push out corrupt dealings. This required all Indians to deposit their 500 and 1,000 rupee notes into bank accounts or exchange for smaller bills. It may still be too soon to tell how effective the measure was, and there is much about Modi’s policies and politics that is worrisome, but early polls suggest Indians, despite the massive inconvenience and in many cases lost savings, may reward Modi for his bold actions. Eliminating bank notes may have been costly or time consuming for many of Modi’s constituents, but in doing so, he declared to voters that he takes anti-corruption seriously.

Another example is the Republic of Georgia’s former president Mikheil Saakashvili. In 2005, Saakashvili fired the entire traffic police force (and then pursued selectively rehiring) as a precondition to breaking the back of corruption. The move not only showed he was serious about fighting corruption, but it ensured that a post-Soviet era culture of extortion and bribe-taking was not passed down to new recruits, who would now be receiving training from US agencies. The action, as well as its symbolism, was key in restoring public trust in one of the most influential sectors of Georgian society.

Institutional strengthening. In many cases, increasing transparency and reinforcing the judicial system is crucial to combat the sense of impunity that invites rent-seeking and outrages average voters.

In Nigeria, PM Muhammadu Buhari observed how lawyers managed to undermine the judicial process, due to weak criminal procedures and poor communication between institutions. Buhari limited the use of appeals in criminal trials, increased coordination among judicial institutions, and allowed for a faster start to substantive trials. This was a move in the right direction, but despite increased coordination, a lack of protocols for competing institutions specializing in prosecuting corruption has slowed down implementation.

A free and transparent media also plays a large role in ensuring those elected to office are held responsible; by increasing reputational penalties, the cost of corruption for public officials significantly increases. Social media and other new communications technologies can make this easier than before. This week, audio of a former Odebrecht executive was leaked, suggesting that Ecuador’s Vice President Jorge Glas requested bribes from contracting companies on numerous occasions. Despite an unbalanced media environment in Ecuador, the scandal rapidly spread online. President Moreno’s campaign promise to perform “surgery” on corruption was put to the test, and he stripped Glas of all authority as VP.

The remedies will be different in each place. But mainstream leaders who want to get ahead of the populist surge, and show concern for the well-being of their publics, would do well to make anti-corruption a higher priority.

(Greenberg Quinlan Rosner VP Jessica Reis and Assistant Analyst Martin Molina contributed to this article.)