04/28/2014 06:05 pm ET Updated Apr 28, 2014

HUFFPOLLSTER: How Democrats Hope To Avoid Another 2010

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Sasha Issenberg reports on the Democrats efforts to avoid a rerun of 2010. The Democracy Corps (D) poll of competitive House districts shows an improvement in views of the ACA, but a new National Journal poll shows no gains in Obama's approval rating. This is HuffPollster for Monday, April 28, 2014.

DEMOCRATS DILEMMA: A SHORT TERM FIX FOR A '30-YEAR PROBLEM'? - Sasha Issenberg dives deep into the Democrats demographic problem with off-year elections: "[I]n one very measurable and consequential sense, there are two Americas. There is the America that votes in presidential elections, which has helped Democrats win the popular vote in five out of the last six cycles and supports the view that Hillary Clinton can continue that streak should she run. Then there is the America that votes more regularly, casting ballots in both presidential and midterm years, which led to the Republican wave in 2010 and gives its party’s leaders reason to be so sanguine about their odds this time around...A trope of 2014 campaign coverage is that Democrats are embracing progressive concerns—a minimum-wage hike, contraception, immigration reform, the villainy of the Koch Brothers—to boost turnout in this year’s midterms. Little of the research informing Democratic tactics supports that explanation….The real reason Democrats have embraced a progressive agenda has not been to energize their own base but to lure [habitual] voters from the other side. Obama and his party’s candidates talk about the minimum wage in the hope that working-class whites skeptical of Democrats on other matters will become more ambivalent about voting Republican...The 'it will all come down to turnout' meme misapprehends get-out-the-vote operations as a form of ratification—the final frenzied push to ensure that the people whom candidates have persuaded all year actually cast a ballot. The new playbook on the left...inverts that logic: Democratic Senate campaigns will be designed to mobilize their way into contention, then persuade their way across the finish line." [New Republic]

TNR piece collects new survey data - New Republic: "Partnering with Clarity Campaign Labs, The New Republic surveyed over three thousand voters to record not just self-described ideology but deeper attitudes about Obamacare, income inequality, marriage equality, the prospect of seeing another Clinton (or Bush) in the White House, and a host of other issues. Poll participants were then matched back to detailed voter files maintained by Clarity’s sister firm, TargetSmart Communications, which verified vote histories and provided detailed demographic data on each group...The result was a portrait of the American electorate that doesn’t just confirm that people who cast ballots every two years ('Reflex' voters, we’ve dubbed them) tend to be older, and more conservative, but by how much. (Answer: 15 years, 17 percentage points.) Most significantly, our survey also revealed specific challenges for Democrats in their efforts to turn out sympathetic irregular voters ('Unreliables') this November, a push focused on key Senate states." [New Republic]

ACA RATINGS IMPROVE IN REPUBLICAN DISTRICTS - Sam Stein: "Attitudes toward the Affordable Care Act continue to shift in the law’s favor, even in Republican-held congressional districts, a new poll set to be released Monday by a Democratic firm will show. The poll, which was conducted by Democracy Corps in battleground congressional districts and shared in advance with The Huffington Post, shows 52 percent of respondents want to 'implement and fix' the 2010 health care reform law versus 42 percent who want to 'repeal and replace' it. Those numbers were 49 percent to 45 percent, respectively, in the firm's December poll….According to the findings, 43 percent of respondents in districts held by a Republican member of Congress now say they oppose the health care law because it 'goes too far.' That number was 48 percent in December." [HuffPost, full Democracy Corps report]

But not the generic House ballot - Harry Enten: "Plenty of headlines on Dem Corp battleground poll possible... 1 of em: GOP up 5 on House ballot... Largest of cycle" [@ForecasterEnten]

POLL FINDS WEAK RATINGS FOR OBAMA, DEMS - Ronald Brownstein: "President Obama's approval rating remains ominously weak among the constituencies that could tip the battle for control of the Senate in November, the latest Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll has found. Obama's overall approval, standing at just 41 percent, remains near the lowest level ever recorded in the 20 Heartland Monitor Polls since April 2009. And only one in four adults say his actions are increasing economic opportunity for people like them, also among his worst showings in the polls. His numbers are especially meager among the non-college and older whites that dominate the electorate in the seven red-leaning states where Democrats must defend Senate seats in November….More troubling for Democrats still may be his especially precarious position with constituencies that loom large for the seven Democratic candidates trying to hold Senate seats in states that voted for Mitt Romney in 2012." [National Journal]

DID QUESTION WORDING AFFECT A POLL OF VIRGINIANS' OPINIONS ON HEALTH CARE? - On Friday, we linked to an article noting that a Christopher Newport University poll showing a decrease in support for the Medicaid expansion also came in response to a differently phrased question. [Slate]

Pollster Quentin Kidd sent HuffPost an explanation of his rationale for changing the wording - An excerpt from his memo: "Some criticism of my analysis has focused on the fact that I did not ask the exact same question in the current survey (Q6) that I asked in the January survey (Q21 & Q22); that is, it is not an apples-to-apples comparison....There are two reasons we did not ask the same question. First, the contours of the debate have changed over the last several months. The debate has become, in fact, much more partisan than it was in January....Second, and more importantly, once I saw the January results, I realized that I needed to ask a head-to-head question on the issue because there was clearly something going on if a generic support-oppose question vs a question that focused on the Republican response could generate a 15% difference in level of support for Medicaid expansion....My bottom line take-away is this: generic support for Medicaid expansion in Virginia in January lead generic opposition by 18%, but we also had evidence from that January poll that the Republican line of attack was effective at drawing down that support (by 15%, 56% support in Q21 to 41% support in Q22). My most recent poll simply demonstrates that those Republican attacks are indeed having an effect, and in a head-to-head choice right now, support for Medicaid in Virginia trails opposition by 12%." [Quentin Kidd Memo]

HOW MUCH DOES PARTY ID CHANGE WITH AGE? - Alan Reifman: " I became curious...as to exactly how stable political affiliations instilled at (or around) age 18 were, as these voters passed through their 20's, 30's, 40's, and so forth into later adulthood…. The youngest cohort (18-29 in 2000) favored Al Gore over George W. Bush that year by a 48-46 percent margin, nearly replicating the overall popular vote that year. Twelve years later, this cohort (whose ages now largely coincided with the 30-44 age group in the 2012 exit polls) favored President Obama by seven percentage points over Mitt Romney (52-45), a slightly larger margin than Obama enjoyed in the overall electorate (51-47). This cohort thus maintained -- or even increased -- its Democratic preference from 2000 to 2012. Let's also examine one of the older -- and more GOP-leaning -- cohorts, those who turned 18 around 1960 and would have been approximately 70 in 2012. In 1988, these voters (who would have fit into the younger portion of the 45-59 age group that year) favored the elder Bush (George H.W.) 57-42, a much wider margin than his 53-46 overall popular-vote victory over Democrat Michael Dukakis. In 2004, now represented by the 60-and-older age group, these voters went for Bush's son by 54-46 (compared to 51-48 for the entire electorate)....[E]ven a long-term partisan affinity (perhaps owing to formative experiences around age 18) can be derailed for a time, as when an incumbent of the other party is enjoying an easy reelection." [HuffPost]

In midterm years, a pollster's thoughts will turn
One question quickly takes priority:
When Congress in the New Year does return
Which party will hold the majority?

Although November's chill looms far away
The anxious wonks draw maps of red and blue
And every time new polls come into play
The pundits chant, "Unskew! Unskew! Unskew!"

The partisans defend the polls that please
Dismissing all the others as slander
Some poli sci professor writes a piece
Decrying outcomes of gerrymander

If this preoccupation seems obscene
Just wait until the year 2016

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MONDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Rasmussen finds Susan Collins coasting to reelection. [Rasmussen]

-A Vox Populi (R) survey for the Daily Caller finds Terry Branstad (R) 2 points ahead of Jack Hatch (D). [Daily Caller]

-Both parties support tougher sanctions against Russia. [Pew Research]

-Rothenberg and Cook move Michael Grimm's (R) seat to "Leans Democratic." [Roll Call, @amyewalter]

-Ben Highton sees a big electoral advantage looming for Democrats. [WashPost]

-Nate Cohn argues that Democrats' turnout issues are worst in North Carolina. [NYT]

-Nate Silver notes a dropoff in strong partisans among younger voters. [538]

-Alex Bratty (R) ponders the challenge of reaching younger American and capturing their attention. [POS]

-Brendan Nyhan looks back at America's history of political dynasties. [NYT]

-Peyton Craighill argues immigration reform isn’t the answer to Republicans’ demographic woes. [WashPost]

-Brandon White finds that voters are usually split on whether home-state politicians should run for president. [Partisan ID]

-Edison Research will conduct exit polls for this week's Iraqi elections. [@webby2001]

-The University of Washington's Center for American Politics and Public Policy unveils an interactive visualization of how 250,000 bills and resolutions have moved through Congress since 1973. [Legex.org via Flowing Data]