Democracy Corps Poll Shows Stronger GOP Messages on the Economy

The semi-secret Democracy Corps poll that I’ve been blogging about all week (here, here, and here) is chock-full of heavenly data.  It really is interesting — and my focus spurred our friends on the left to write a response

The last analysis I’m going to write on it focuses on their economic message testing for the two parties.  It’s a very interesting and well-done series.  The good news for Republicans is that the intensity of support for the GOP messages on the economy is stronger than the intensity of support for the Dem messages.

As a reminder, the survey was done of 1,500 total voters — 500 in 20 Tier 1 Dem congressional seats, 500 in 20 Tier 2 Dem congressional seats, and 500 in 20 targeted GOP congressional seats.  Often in these analysis I have been separating out the Dem and GOP seats, but for the message testing component of their survey, I’m going to focus on the overall data for the 1,500 interviews (so all 60 seats combined).

They tested a series of messages about what both the Dems and the GOPers “might say about the economy” and then asked how convincing respondents found each statement.  The results of the six Dem messages point to some that have credibility with a majority of voters in these 60 districts, but those messages lack intensity.   In comparison, they tested four GOP messages on the economy, and all four have higher intensity than any of the six Dem messages.  Three of the four GOP messages have significantly more pop (a quick shout out of thanks to the folks at Democracy Corps for writing such well-crafted GOP messages for us to steal).

Here’s the wording of the Dem messages, with the results:

This past winter our nation was facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, 700,000 jobs were being lost per month and our financial system was on the verge of collapse. We still have a long way to go and we will not rest until those Americans who seek jobs can find them, but thanks to the bold and decisive actions we have taken since January, we have pulled this economy back from the brink.  Results: 43% convincing, 55% not convincing.  Intensity: 16% very convincing.

We inherited an economy that has left far too many Americans struggling to make ends meet, so we are acting to help them get through this crisis by extending unemployment and health care benefits to Americans who lost their jobs, cutting taxes for 95 percent of working families, and preventing thousands of police officers, teachers and firefighters from being laid off. And as we move forward we are working to make sure that the economy starts to create new jobs again as it begins to pull out of this recession.  Results: 56% convincing, 43% not convincing.  Intensity: 26% very convincing.

 When President Obama was sworn in, almost 750 thousand Americans were losing their job every month. The actions we’ve taken have cut that number by two-thirds, so we’ve made progress in stemming the loss of jobs. But we are not satisfied and a jobless recovery isn’t good enough for us or the American people; that is why we won’t stop fighting until our economy is once again creating high quality jobs.  Results: 53% convincing, 45% not convincing.  Intensity: 20% very convincing.

Last year our economy was on the verge of collapse so we had to make the tough choices and act, even though we knew it would be unpopular because it would help Wall Street. Now that we’ve averted the worst, we’re working to fix this broken system so it rewards the hard work of middle class Americans and small businesses that play by the rules instead of the big bankers that abused the system to get ahead.  Results: 49% convincing, 49% not convincing.  Intensity: 17% very convincing.Even before the financial crisis the economy wasn’t working for too many middle class Americans. That’s why we are working to rebalance the economy to make sure it works for regular Americans by asking the very wealthy and big corporations to pay their fair share while cutting taxes and reducing health care costs for working families and small businesses and creating quality, middle class jobs in alternative energy.  Results: 54% convincing, 44% not convincing.  Intensity: 26% very convincing.


The financial crisis showed that our economy was too reliant on unsustainable financial bubbles. We are working to change that and lay the groundwork for true long-term prosperity by reforming health care to bring down costs for business and consumers and making America the leader in alternative energy like wind and solar so the jobs and industries of the future are built right here, not in China or India.  Results: 53% very convincing, 45% not very convincing.  Intensity: 21% very convincing. 


So, some of the Dem messages had majority resonance, but generally we look for intensity numbers of 30% or higher.  None of those six messages reached 30%, although it is easy to see which messages worked better than others.  Now, look at the intensity on the four GOP messages they tested:

The Democrats said all of their spending would create jobs, but their trillion-dollar stimulus plan, four-trillion-dollar budget and government bailouts have created more debt than at any other time in our history and yet unemployment is still rising and will soon top 10 percent. And they want to pay for all of this by making middle class Americans pay higher taxes on everything from energy to health care.  Results: 53% convincing, 44% not convincing.  Intensity: 35% very convincing. 

The Democrats in Congress are more interested in bailing out Detroit, Wall Street and the housing industry with taxpayers’ dollars than they are in helping regular Americans during these difficult times. Democrats even let insurance giant AIG use taxpayer dollars to give millions in bonuses to its top executives. It’s time Democrats start helping out Americans on Main Street, not Wall Street.  Results: 55% convincing, 42% not convincing.  Intensity: 28% very convincing.

Democrats in Congress have approved 5 trillion dollars in spending this year alone, adding over a trillion dollars to our deficit that will leave mountains of debt for our grandchildren to pay back, money that America is borrowing from China and the Middle East. This irresponsible, wasteful spending undermines our economic stability by forcing us to rely on hostile foreign governments to lend us money.  Results: 58% convincing, 40% not convincing.  Intensity: 32% very convincing.

Our economy is in a severe recession but the Democrats only solution is greater government control. The federal government runs General Motors and has nationalized several banks. Democrats say they’re doing what it takes to get our economy back on track but what they’re really doing is pushing us on a path toward socialism, increasing the size of our federal government to levels only seen in European countries.  Results: 52% convincing, 47% not convincing.  Intensity: 33% very convincing.  

The GOP message with the least pushback focuses on the spending/debt moves by the Dems in Congress,making us more beholden to China and the Middle East.  The GOP message with the most intensity ties together the stimulus, the bailouts, the budgets, and the rising unemployment.  I addressed part of this a couple of months or so ago in this post.  And, Resurgent Republic does a nice job of exploring the political impact of the deficit in some August focus groups that I was involved with.

Continuing on a theme of mine, I would also note that one of the two strongest Dem messages includes alternative energy jobs.  As this past post points out, oil and coal by themselves are not an energy plan.  Republicans need to include alternative energy in our messaging on that issue.  Green jobs are the future — and an agenda that includes more oil, more coal (in certain areas) and more alternative energy is a stronger message than the Dem alt energy only line.



Public Opinion Strategies