While America is still over a year away from electing its next President, it’s hard not to be deluged by the continual coverage of the Presidential candidates and their campaigns. With three Republican debates and one Democratic debate already under our belts, the team at Lab42 set out to gauge of how Americans feel about the election and candidates. Since the world of American politics can change so quickly, we will be running multiple Political Research snapshots leading up to the election in November 2016.
The goal of the first part of the series is to gauge interest in the election, the issues that are most important to voters, and which candidates are the top choices. To answer these questions, we surveyed 1,000 American adults (with demographics held constant to mirror the US census).
When asked about the top 3 issues that were deciding factors for a Presidential candidate, Jobs and the Economy topped the list with nearly 45% of respondents choosing this issue. Healthcare ranked second at 29%, and National Security rounded out the top 3 at 20%. These are followed by Education and Taxes tied at 19%, and Minimum Wage at 18%.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, with fewer competitors for her party’s nomination, Hillary Clinton was the top choice with 26% of respondents selecting her as the next President. Donald Trump came in second with 20% of the vote, and Bernie Sanders followed closely behind at 17%. An indication of how Americans feel about the current slate of candidates, 9% of respondents said that none of the candidates were their top choice as President.
Although Donald Trump was the second most popular choice for President, he is also seen as the most polarizing, with nearly 55% of respondents reporting that they would never vote for him. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were the least polarizing candidates, each with 43% of respondents reporting that they would never vote for them.
Democrats, on the other hand, were more open to voting for a Republican candidate, with 35% responding that they would not vote for a Republican candidate.
Another facet of our research was to understand respondents’ opinions of the general likability of the Presidential candidates. To do this, we asked a series of questions and asked the respondents to choose which candidate best shows certain traits.
We also measured the respondents’ perceived electability of their first choice for President. Of the respondents who chose Hillary Clinton as their first choice, 82% reported that she was most electable. For respondents who chose Donald Trump as their first choice, 80% said that he was most electable. Interestingly, only 69% of respondents who chose Bernie Sanders as their first choice reported that he was the most electable candidate (with 18% of Bernie fans saying that Hillary Clinton is the most electable candidate).
These are just a few of the statistics we collected through the first part of our research series. You can download the entire data set (Excel) and aggregate overview (PDF) by filling out the form below. Are there any questions or topics you’d like us to cover in Part 2 of the research? Please leave your questions and comments below and we’ll be sure to include them in our next report (releasing in January 2016).