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

WashPo Opinion: “This election is an unpopularity contest for the ages”

by Emily O'Connor

Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus writes about the unprecedented unfavorable ratings of both parties’ presidential candidate frontrunners. The WG’s David Winston commented on how this will affect the state of the electorate:

If the nominees are Trump and Clinton, said Republican pollster David Winston, “You’re probably looking somewhere in the neighborhood of three out of 10 Americans having a negative view of both. You could have a very frustrated electorate by the time we get to Election Day.”

For more, head to The Washington Post.

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 The parallel universe where Mitt Romney leads all polls

by Lisa Mathias

In today’s, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns go behind the polling industry among the rise in popularity behind sites like, where GOP politicos and pundits are relying on polls re-weighted for a higher turnout of Republican respondents. The WG’s David Winston explains that pollsters need to help the public better understand Party ID in polls:

GOP pollster David Winston, whose firm produced a poll recently showing Obama with a 2-point lead nationally, said pollsters should strive to explain their results to the public in the setting of the partisan sample their surveys turn up: “When you come back with results, you should make sure that you are effectively explaining that ballot test in the context of the demographics contained within the survey.”

Read more:

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:

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.

The Fix: How party ID became partisan — and why it shouldn’t be

by Lisa Mathias

Washington Post’s Chris Cilizza writes for The Fix blog about party identification in polling, discussing how Party ID does or does not reflect the electorate. Cilizza uses one of our Party ID charts from our recent post on Party ID and Ideology Breakdowns

While the exit numbers are slightly less favorable to Democrats than the Pew party ID data, they still show clearly that Democrats have enjoyed an edge over time. (In only one race — 2004 — since 1984 have there been an equal number of people identifying as Republicans as Democrats.)

To read the full article, turn to

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.

Iowa Poll: Iowa leans conservative, offering potential for GOP

by Lisa Mathias

Thomas Beaumont of the Des Moines Register features David in a recent article profiling Iowan voters and getting insights about the GOP from Iowan Republicans.

“I think the conservative brand is generally fine,” said Republican pollster David Winston. “But the Republican brand has difficulty at this point. And there’s no question that, until the party stops being the opposition party and starts being the alternative party, it’s not going to help its brand.”

To read more, turn to

National party ID and ideology from the past 24 years

by canderson

Party ID and Ideology 1984-2008 [PDF]