The Winston Group is a strategy and research firm dedicated to making ideas matter.

“Fix It” – An Analysis of the 2014 Midterm Elections

by Emily O'Connor

 

In the 2014 midterm elections, what did voters tell Washington? “Fix it.”

Read through our in-depth analysis to find out more about what voters want, who comprised the 2014 electorate, and what challenges and opportunities are ahead for both parties.

Access the PDF here.

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National Teacher Attitudes on the Adoption of Common Core State Standards

by David Winston

While teachers’ outlook on Common Core continues to be positive, there are some challenges emerging on the horizon that need to be addressed. By a 2:1 margin (62% approve-31% disapprove) teachers approve of adoption of Common Core State Standards. However, this support is soft as 17% said they strongly approve and 44% said somewhat approve. This overall level of support is basically unchanged from last March, when in a Hart/Winston Group survey, 62% of teachers approved and 32% disapproved.

Additionally, attitudes about approval of state implementation of Common Core has slipped slightly as it went from 66% in March to 60% in July. While the trend is of concern, nonetheless the approval margin is still 2:1 (60-30). Also like overall approval, that approval is soft with 18% strongly approving and 42% somewhat approving.

Finally, and perhaps the most immediate challenge, is that what teachers have heard about Common Core Standards over the last year has not been favorable. Given what teachers said they had heard over the last year, 17% said it made them more favorable, while 32% said it made them less favorable. However, almost half (49%) said that what they had heard had not changed their attitude. Again, this was similar to last March when it stood at 18% more favorable, 32% less favorable, and 49% the same.

This survey occurs as we are in the middle of implementation across the country. Implementation was always seen as a challenging moment, yet 6 out of 10 teachers at this point still approve of how that is occurring. Obviously it would be better if that approval were not as soft as it is. Additionally that softness is complicated by the teacher reaction to what they have heard. Nonetheless, the attitudes are still very positive, but a stronger Common Core narrative is needed to coincide with further implementation to move things forward.

This survey was fielded August 2-3, 2014 for The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 800 teachers nationally were interviewed.

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Memo and Toplines: Research on Common Core State Standards

by Lisa Mathias

Hart Research Associates and The Winston Group recently surveyed public school teachers on the implementation of Common Core State Standards, conducted for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Below you’ll find a summary of the key findings, as well as the survey toplines.

Memo: Survey of Teachers’ Attitudes about the Common Core State Standards

Toplines: Gates CCSS Survey

2012 Post-Election Analysis

by David Winston

Access the .pdf here: 2012 Post-Election Analysis

Infographic: Mitt Romney’s Vote Margins

by Lisa Mathias

Young voters played a decisive role in the 2012 presidential election. According to the exit polls, Barack Obama received fewer votes than Mitt Romney among voters over the age of 30, but won young voters – nationally and in key swing states – by such large margins that he was re-elected.

Party ID and Ideology Updated for 2012

by David Winston

We’ve updated our charts of national and state Party ID and Ideology breakdowns to include 2012 numbers, and is presidential-level data. There are two items to note: 1) states with a (P) label means the data from that still is still preliminary and is subject to change and 2) not every state has exit polls, so some states’ charts only go up to 2008.

Access the updated .pdf here: National Exit Polls: Party Identification and Ideology Breakdowns

Infographic: Which devices do you get more of your news from?

by David Winston

Recently, Newsweek announced that it will no longer be producing a print version of the iconic magazine. No matter what business concerns lead to that decision, one fact that must be acknowledged is that there are dramatic changes happening in how Americans consume news. The Winston Group recently conducted a survey that asked respondents which electronic devices they use to get their news. Here is what we found:

Among the “Overall” responses, television was still the most popular device, but computers were a reasonably close second, well ahead of radio. Additionally, radio is beginning to see some stiff competition from smartphones.

But the advantage in audience size that television has over computers and the lead that radio has over smartphones disappears when you look at younger members of the population. Among 35-44 year olds, smart phones and tablets are already outpacing radio as a source of news. When you look at 18-44 year olds, the results are even more striking with computers dominate as a source of news, outpacing television, with smartphones beginning to challenge for second spot.

So while not every magazine will incur the same fate as Newsweek, there can be no doubt that the media landscape has already changed for the youngest members of the adult population.

Why We Compare New Polls to Exit Polls

by Lisa Mathias

As the election draws closer, both the public and the media are paying more attention to polls. With the election less than 40 days aways, polls are not just being read to try and feel the pulse of the American electorate, but also to predict how that electorate will look on November 6th.

It is of course impossible to compare a poll result with an election that hasn’t taken place yet so at The Winston Group we look at the next best thing: exit polls from past elections. We have uploaded charts of national and state level exit poll data on our website for the media and public to use: http://winstongroup.net/2012/09/17/party-id-and-ideology-breakdowns/.

One of the best questions to compare electorates across time is party identification (Party ID). This is a question that is asked in every exit poll. When we compare a newly released poll’s Party ID to the Party ID of past polls we get a sense of how the new electorate compares to the Party IDs of past exit polls.

The polls we have tweeted show there is a wide range of differences in Party ID numbers, but this is not a phenomenon unique to 2012. Ultimately it is up to the reader of the poll to determine if they find the poll’s explanation for Party ID satisfactory or not. The most we can do is provide a resource to allow everyone to make their own comparisons.

Party ID and Ideology Breakdowns

by David Winston

Over the course of the next several weeks, there will be many national and state surveys released. In order to help people make sense of this data, we have compiled party identification and ideology results from exit polls in recent elections.

Exit polls are a unique set of numbers, as they are the only major dataset that is directly weighted to election results. That unique quality gives them the reputation of being the “official record” of what happened in an election.

When evaluating a poll, it’s important to take partisan breakdown into account. A survey that dramatically overstates the number of Republicans or Democrats likely to turn out may not give an accurate read on public opinion among the true electorate. For example, the margin between Democrats and Republicans was at its largest since 1984 during the 2008 election. That year, the number of Democrats was larger than the number of Republicans by 7 points — quite a change from 2004 when things were even. The partisan breakdown in Midterm election years is always different from presidential elections, but we include them in our national data here for historical reference.

Ideological makeup is also important. Often, the words “center-right” are used to describe the American electorate. This chart reflects that, as moderates have generally comprised the largest group, with conservatives significantly outnumbering liberals.

As a resource, we have compiled breakdowns by party identification and ideology for the period 1984-2008 at the national level and across the previous four general elections (1996-2008) for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. That information is available on our website, here. We hope this will provide the public with a metric for evaluating polls as they’re released between now and Nov. 6.