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By Huge Margins Swing Voters in Key Battleground States More Likely to Vote for Candidate Committed to Jobs for People with Disabilities

By Huge Margins Swing Voters in Key Battleground States More Likely to Vote for Candidate Committed to Jobs for People with Disabilities

56% of likely voters say they, a family member, or a close friend has a disability 

NEW Bi-partisan poll of key battleground states presented by top pollsters, Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg PhD of Quinlan Rosner Research and Republican Pollster Whit Ayes, PhD of Northstar Opinion.

Click here to download slide presentation. Download the full poll questionnaire here.

Washington, DC. Marking the start of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, RespectAbilityUSA is releasing a new bi-partisan survey conducted by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg PhD of Quinlan Rosner Research and Republican Pollster Whit Ayes, PhD of Northstar Opinion. The battleground state survey of 1000 likely 2014 voters finds that swing voters in Senate and Governors races are more likely to vote for a candidate who makes a high priority of “enabling citizens with disabilities to get jobs and become independent.” Overall voters are similarly more likely to support candidates for U.S. Senate making this a priority at 49 percent versus 5 percent. While for Governors it is 53 percent versus 3 percent.

Key swing voter groups in these battleground states are more likely to vote for senate candidates who support these policies.

Fully 56 percent of voters report having a family member or close friend with a disability, 43 percent do not. This is similar to US Census numbers* 15 percent report having a disability, 31 percent have a family member with a disability and 10 percent have a close friend with a disability. The poll showed that amongst likely voters with disabilities that 31 percent are Democrats, 31 percent are Independents and 36 percent are Republicans. Amongst their family members it is 35 percent Democrats, 33 percent Independents, 30 percent Republicans. For their close friends it is 36 percent Democrats, 38 percent Independents, and 24 percent Republicans.

Said Stan Greenberg, PhD,“ “Issues of employment among people with disabilities can affect outcomes in competitive races for Senate and Governor. This community is far bigger than many people realize, including people in my profession.”

Likewise, Republican Whit Ayres commented “We are accustomed to thinking about “soccer moms”, “Hispanics” or “values voters.” But this poll shows that Americans with disabilities – and those who care deeply about them are a demographic we need to pay attention to in the future.”

Today, 70 percent of people with disabilities (PwDs) are not employed, even though polls show that most of them would prefer to work. “Our nation was founded
on the principle that anyone who works
hard should be able to get ahead in life,” commented founder and president of RespectAbilityUSA, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “This poll demonstrates that Americans on both sides of the aisle will vote for candidates who share their belief that people with disabilities deserve to be
able to work to achieve the American
dream, just like anyone else.

The poll comes after the U.S. has recently passed the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA). However, WIOA has not yet been implemented. The next governor of every state will have the opportunity to dramatically shape these policies, and voters are demanding results. While voters are saying they want candidates who are committed to jobs and opportunities for citizens with disabilities, they don’t feel they are getting it today.

A majority of Americans (54%) think that the state government is “not doing enough/not doing anywhere near enough” to “help people with disabilities get jobs and become independent” while 28% think the state is “doing more than enough/enough.” While a majority respond the government is “not doing enough/not doing anywhere near enough”, over 30 percent more Democrats (73 percent) believe the government is not doing enough versus 40 percent of Republicans feel the same.

The partisan split is more pronounced on the role of the federal government. Overall, likely voters respond similarly to the question of whether the federal government is doing enough to “help people with disabilities get jobs and become independent.” More than half, 52 percent believe the federal government is “not doing enough/not doing anywhere near enough”(Dem 67, Rep 38), 35 percent believe it is “doing more than enough/enough” (Dem 19, Rep 49).

One of the biggest barriers for work is an outdated benefits system which was written for another time when it was assumed that people with disabilities would be dependent their whole lives. The Federal government literally called these programs “Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled.” These days new technology, medical breakthroughs, and a recognition that people with disabilities want to work have destroyed this antiquated thinking.

There is strong bi-partisan support, nearly 8 out of 10 voters, are for increasing the current caps on monthly income ($1,070) and assets ($2,000) of people with disabilities in order to allow them to earn more without risking their benefits. Fully 88 percent of Democrats support this increase, 9 percent oppose and 68 percent of Republicans support, 26 percent oppose. Beyond personal support for changing this policy, 71 percent of Democrats and 40 percent of Republicans are more likely to vote for a candidate for U.S. Senate who supports this change. Only 5 percent of Democrats and 13 percent of Republicans are less likely to vote for senate candidates based on this issue.

Fully 88 percent feel that as a customer it is important “that the companies you do business with do not discriminate against qualified people with disabilities.” Over 60 percent feel that this is “very important.” And, despite the low levels of employment of people with disabilities, a nearly unanimous electorate (98%) is open and supportive to hiring more people with disabilities responding that if they were an employer, manager or small business owner, they would be “willing to hire a qualified person with a disability.”

Businesses should recognize that there are over 56 million Americans with disabilities. They are not only voters, they are consumers,” commented Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder & president of RespectAbilityUSA.

Nearly two-thirds of voters (65%) surveyed favor the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, also known as the Disability Treaty. The Disability Treaty is an international human rights treaty of the United Nations modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act. This Treaty encourages the adoption of laws around the world that promote accessibility, equal opportunities and end abuse and discrimination of people with disabilities. Only 23 percent oppose the treaty.

Said Mizrahi, “The majority of likely American voters are experiencing disability, either because they have a disability or have a loved one who does. It impacts voting, and elected officials need to pay attention. We want jobs and we want them now!”

This bi-partisan survey was conducted by the Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and the Republican polling firm North Star Opinion Research in the Senate Battleground. The survey of 1000 likely 2014 voters was conducted from September 20-24, 2014. The Senate Battleground is comprised of AK, AR, CO, GA, IA, KY, LA, MI, MT, NH, NC, and WV. Unless otherwise noted, margin of error= +/-3.10 percentage points at 95% confidence. 40 percent of respondents were reached by cell phone, in order to account for ever-changing demographics and trying to accurately sample the full American electorate.


Whit Ayres is a leading Washington, D.C. political consultant with over 30 years of experience in polling and survey research for high profile political campaigns and associations.

As Founder and President of North Star Opinion Research, a national public opinion and public affairs research firm located in Alexandria, Virginia, Whit provides message development advice and strategic insights to high level political clients including U.S. Senators Marco Rubio, Lamar Alexander, Bob Corker, Lindsey Graham, and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, and association clients including the Boy Scouts of America, the National Rifle Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, and the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.

Whit and former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie are Co-Founders of Resurgent Republic, a centeright nonprofit which develops and disseminates a steady stream of national polls and focus groups, helping policy makers, think tanks, interest groups and others advocate for policies that are consistent with conservative principles.  Resurgent’s research is regularly cited by leading journalists and politicos.

Whit has been active in The American Association of Political Consultants for over 20 years, serving as its Treasurer, President, and Chairman. In 2012, Whit was honored as the Republican Pollster of the Year by the organization. AAPC is a bi-partisan professional society that promotes the political consulting industry, protects political freedom of speech, and fosters ethical behavior in political campaigns.

Whit is a frequent commentator on network and cable media outlets including NBC’s Meet the Press, FOX News, CNN, NPR and the BBC.  His comments and analysis appear in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and numerous regional newspapers.

Whit founded his company after a career as a tenured professor at the University of South Carolina. Whit is a graduate of Davidson College and holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Whit has been an active private pilot for 30 years, flying his Beechcraft Baron throughout the eastern U.S.  He is also the 2012 Virginia State Racquetball champion in his undisclosed age division.


Stan Greenberg has served as polling advisor to presidents and prime ministers, CEOs, and dozens of tough campaigns in the US and around the world, including President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Nelson Mandela, as well as the national leaders in Israel, Europe and Latin America. Greenberg’s corporate clients include Boeing, Microsoft and other global companies.

His New York Times best-selling book with James Carville – It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! – praised as a “recipe for Barack Obama’s re-election” and “playbook on how to talk to voters about economic issues” that “Democrats and Republicans alike in the elite and political class should pay heed.”

Stan and James founded Democracy Corps, the leading organization providing in-depth research and strategic advice to progressive groups, candidates and leaders. When Karl Rove listed in the Wall Street Journal 10 steps to regain the Republican majority, step one was to create a Democracy Corps. The New York Times‘ Nate Silver rated their national polls the most accurate, within 1/2 point of Obama’s actual margin.

Stan’s book, Dispatches from the War Room: In the Trenches with Five Extraordinary Leaders, led George Stephanopoulos to conclude, “No single strategist has done more to lay the foundation for modern progressive politics – across the globe.”

He conducts the bi-partisan polls for NPR, The Los Angeles Times, and the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Stan conducts polls for the Israel Project in the US, Europe, and the Arab world, as well as the Nobel-prize winning campaign to ban landmines, and for NGOs dealing with climate change, aging, women’s advocacy and political reform.

Stan was inducted into the American Association of Political Consultants’ ‘Hall of Fame.’ He has been described as “the father of modern polling techniques,” “the De Niro of all political consultants,” and “an unrivaled international ‘guru’.” Esquire Magazine named him one of the most important people of the 21st century. The New York Times writes that Greenberg “acts as a sort of people’s truth squad,” while The New Republic describes Stan Greenberg’s list of clients as a “who’s who in center-left world leaders.” The New Yorker reported Ehud Barak’s victory in 1999 as either a “stunning upset for the country’s Labor Party or… just another Greenberg client taking his place as the head of state.”  Republican pollster Frank Luntz says, “Stan Greenberg scares the hell out of me. He doesn’t just have a finger on the people’s pulse; he’s got an IV injected into it. He’s the best.”

Stan also wrote The Two Americas: Our Current Political Deadlock and How to Break It and Middle Class Dreams that put the spotlight on “Reagan Democrats.” Those insights made him the principal polling advisor to the Democratic Leadership Council during the formative years of change (1988-1994) for the Democratic Party.

Greenberg founded the company in 1980 after a decade of teaching at Yale University where he received a Guggenheim Fellowship. He was educated at Miami University and Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D.

For Immediate Release October 1, 2014

Contact: Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi
Tel: 202-365-0787
Email: [email protected]

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