Battleground Poll Founders Celinda Lake and Ed Goeas Look at the Numbers on the November Election in a Speech Before Ripon Society Symposium at Mount Vernon

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Celinda Lake is the President of Lake Research Partners and one of the Democratic Party’s leading political strategists, Ed Goeas is the President and C.E.O. of The Tarrance Group, one of the most respected and successful Republican survey research and strategy teams in American politics today, together they founded and continue to partner on the Battleground Poll, one of the leading national issue and election thermometers. Both Lake and Goeas spoke to a legislative symposium sponsored by The Ripon Society at Mount Vernon on February 10th, with the main topic of discussion being the American electorate, the November general election, and their respective predictions for the year. 

“Two thirds of Americans,” stated Lake, “say their kids and the next generation will not be better off economically than the current generation. This is the first generation that may not be as well educated as their parents. This is the first generation that, if you control for income level, may not be making as much as their parents and that is a real fundamental blow to the American psyche.” 

“There are going to be some surprises on both sides of the aisle because we are facing a wave election and that wave election is going to be anti-incumbent.” 

“We have a saying in our party and you may have it on the Republican side too. ‘When your opponents are digging themselves in a hole, don’t grab the shovel and don’t get in the way.’ Republicans are pretty good at that. They don’t tend to grab the shovel or get in the way. The Democrats are like, ‘Oh, can we help you?’ We interfere all the time and step on our own stories but we’re being pretty disciplined right now in letting Republicans attack Republicans and they are doing, from our vantage point, a pretty good job of it.” 

“I think that everything is in play. I think that Democrats could take back the House and I think Republicans can take the Senate. I think the presidential will be close, although I think Obama is really coming out with a pretty strong lead. In fact, the most recent numbers are pretty positive.” 

Lake made these statements at The Ripon Society’s 2012 Legislative and Communications Directors Symposium on Leadership at Mount Vernon,which was held at the home of our Nation’s first President on Friday, February 10th. A group of nearly 200 senior policy and communications aides attended the day-long event, which also featured a Keynote Address by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, as well as presentations by former Congressman and NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent, National Journal correspondent Major Garrett, and top members of the House Republican Leadership staff, among other political and legislative leaders. 

In his remarks, Goeas discussed the history of the Battleground Poll, his thoughts on the usage of survey research, and what both parties can expect from the American electorate in November. 

“We are in the 21st year of the Battleground Poll,” stated Goeas. “We have done 5 presidential elections in which the Battleground Poll has been the closest three of the five times. We missed one election because we, quite frankly and quite honestly, stopped polling on a Thursday night. The Republican candidate, a story broke the next day, had a DWI and there was a great deal of movement over that weekend. Then we came back in the last election — there were actually five firms that were so close in their prediction that they lumped us together and said these are the closest. So we’ve got it right four out of the five times.” 

“One thing I feel very strongly about as a pollster, and there are others. I feel very strongly that polling should never be used to develop policy. It should never be used to tell you what your principles are, what your values are, and where you want to take the country. It should be used to test as you put your message together and monitor as you put your message together.” 

“One of the biggest misconceptions about presidential elections is this: in the off-year — everyone has really come to understand the off-year — independents don’t really vote much and it’s really about parity between the two parties and who has more intensity between the two parties. That is kind of what an off-year election is all about. Is there an enthusiasm gap? Does one side do a better job in terms of turnout? That is still a factor in a presidential race because you still have about 72 percent of the voters who vote in a presidential year being from one of the two parties, so you have the intensity math game being played. In this case, it’s still in our favor in all the numbers we’ve been looking at. But where I think they get it wrong and they say it right, the independents — which is about 28 percent of the votes cast — are an important part of the vote in a presidential year. What they don’t get is that is the crap shoot of a presidential election — a different set of independent voters vote in each presidential election, and it is the angry independents who vote.” 

 The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.