Resurgent Republic: Stan Greenberg’s Open Letter to Ed Gillespie, Founder of Resurgent Republic, on Their Initial National Survey

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Stan Greenberg responds to the initial poll from Resurgent Republic.


Date: May 4, 2009 To: Ed Gillespie Founder, Resurgent Republic From: Stan Greenberg Greenberg Quinlan Rosner RE: RESURGENT REPUBLIC

Dear Ed, Congratulations on forming Resurgent Republic with the goal of replicating “on the right the success Democracy Corps has enjoyed on the left.” Like Democracy Corps, you are promising to become a resource for groups and leaders, enhanced by the public release of credible surveys and focus groups and, indeed, your first survey has been widely discussed and already used by Republican leaders.

Well done. You would probably be surprised if I didn’t have some reactions and advice to offer, as you explicitly state you are “modeled on Democracy Corps.” Given your goal, I am perplexed that your first poll would be so outside the mainstream on partisanship. Your poll gives the Democrats just a 2-point party identification advantage in the country, but other public polls in this period fell between +7 and +16 points – giving the Democrats an average advantage of 11 points. Virtually all your issue debates in the survey would have tilted quite differently had the poll been 9 points more Democratic.

One thing Democracy Corps has tried to do is be very “conservative” – watching very closely to make sure all our choices in survey design are well grounded or tilted against the Democrats, including the choice of “likely voters” that normally favors the Republicans. You have probably noticed that our job approval ratings for George Bush were almost always higher than the average of polls, just as our job approval ratings for Barack Obama are now somewhat lower. If the Resurgent Republic poll is to be an outlier on partisanship, then I urge you to explain what about your methodology produces it – or simply to note the difference in your public release. The problem of partisanship pales before the problem of self-deluding bias in question wording that might well contribute to Republicans digging themselves deeper and deeper into a hole…

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