A Look at Four Distinct Voting Blocs

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – October 6, 2011 – The presidential campaign continues to move towards the first caucus maybe as early as late December. And, in the few short months to the first voting, the road to Iowa and New Hampshire will continue to twist and turn. On this road, there are many ways pundits will examine voting intentions. Here we look at four separate stories: those who are moderate Independents, those who are Conservative Tea Party supporters, those who are from states where President Obama won or lost by 5% or less in 2008 and those from 2012 swing states.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,462 adults surveyed online between September 12 and 19, 2011.

    Moderate Independents

    One of the groups that can decide an election are those right in the middle, people who are both moderate and who are self-identified as Independent. During a general election, it is this group of voters who candidates try to persuade and, at the moment, this group is not happy. They have the same low opinion of Congress (93% negative rating versus 94% among all adults), President Obama in general (67% negative versus 68% among all adults) and his handling of the economy (78% negative versus 79% among all adults). But, despite their negative opinions this groups is still very divided when it comes to voting for the President as 46% say they are unlikely to vote for him if the election were held today while 44% are likely to vote for him with 10% not at all sure.

    Looking at the economy overall, over half of moderate Independents (54%) say in the coming year the economy will stay the same while 20% believe it will improve and 25% believe it will get worse. Three in five rate both the economic conditions (61%) and the current job market (60%) in their region as bad.

    Conservative Tea Party Supporters

    Another group that will have an impact on the upcoming election is Tea Party supporters who also say they are Conservative. As might be expected, these individuals have a very negative opinion of the job President Obama is doing in general (99% negative) and on the economy (95% negative) but have a slightly better opinion of how Congress is doing (12% positive versus 6% among all adults). Two-thirds of Conservative Tea Party supporters (67%) believe the economy will get worse in the coming year while 78% rate the economic condition of their region of the country as bad. And, when it comes to the two issues (among a list of 15) that are most important to them when voting for a candidate, half (51%) say it is cutting government spending, over one-third (36%) say it is the recent Healthcare Reform Bill and 31% say it is less government regulation.

    2012 Swing States

    This is a list that may change as the election grows closer, but at the moment, it looks like nine states can be called swing states for this cycle – Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia. These are the states where both President Obama and the eventual Republican candidate will focus and spend a great deal of time. Currently, two-thirds of the people in these states (68%) have a negative opinion of the overall job the President is doing, almost four in five (78%) have a negative opinion of the job the President is doing on the economy, and over nine in ten (92%) have a negative opinion of the job Congress is doing. Half of swing state adults (51%) say if the election for president were to be held today they would be unlikely to vote for President Obama while 42% would be likely to vote for him and almost half (45%) do not think the President will be re-elected. When it comes to issues that are most important to voting, two in five swing state adults (39%) say it is cutting government spending, almost three in ten (28%) say it is no tax increases and one-quarter (24%) say it is the recent Healthcare Reform Bill.

    Looking at the economy, things are not good for the swing states. Over one-third (35%) believe the economy will get worse in the coming year while 44% expect it to stay the same. Seven in ten (71%) say the economy in their region of the country is bad and 72% say the job market in their region is bad.

    2008 5% states

    In the 2008 presidential election six states were decided by 5% or less – Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina and Ohio. For these states, the problem is all economic. Three-quarters say both that the economic conditions (75%) and the job market (75%) in their region are bad

    So What?

    So much can happen between now and the first votes in the primary election, never mind until the first votes in the general election are cast. But, as this snapshot shows, the economy is an issue impacting how some important blocs of potential voters think. If those in the swing states do not feel the economy or the job market is getting better they are very likely to take frustrations out at the ballot box. This is troubling not just for President Obama, but also for all incumbents up for re-election.

     

    TABLE 1

    PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING

    How would you rate the overall job President Barack Obama is doing?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Mod/Ind.

    Cons/Tea Party

    2012 Swing states

    2008 5% states

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    32

    33

    1

    32

    35

    Excellent

    5

    3

    7

    8

    Pretty good

    27

    30

    1

    25

    27

    NEGATIVE

    68

    67

    99

    68

    65

    Only fair

    30

    35

    7

    29

    28

    Poor

    38

    32

    93

    39

    37

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 2

    CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING

    How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Mod/Ind.

    Cons/Tea Party

    2012 Swing states

    2008 5% states

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    6

    7

    12

    8

    7

    Excellent

    *

    1

    *

    *

    Pretty good

    6

    5

    12

    8

    7

    NEGATIVE

    94

    93

    88

    92

    93

    Only fair

    35

    33

    36

    26

    29

    Poor

    59

    61

    52

    66

    63

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 3

    VOTING FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA

    If the election for president were to be held today, how likely would you be to vote for the current president, Barack Obama?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Mod/Ind.

    Cons/Tea Party

    2012 Swing states

    2008 5% states

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Likely

    39

    44

    4

    42

    44

    Very likely

    26

    23

    4

    27

    28

    Somewhat likely

    13

    20

    15

    16

    Unlikely

    53

    46

    96

    51

    51

    Somewhat unlikely

    7

    9

    *

    5

    6

    Very unlikely

    47

    37

    96

    47

    45

    Not at all sure

    8

    10

    *

    7

    5

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 4

    LIKELIHOOD OF OBAMA’S RE-ELECTION

    If you had to say now, do you think that President Obama will be re-elected, or not?

    Base: All adults

     

    Sept

    Mod/Ind.

    Cons/Tea Party

    2012 Swing states

    2008 5% states

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    I think he will be re-elected.

    30

    31

    4

    31

    31

    I do not think he will be re-elected.

    47

    45

    83

    45

    46

    Not at all sure.

    23

    25

    12

    23

    23

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 5

    PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY

    Now, turning to something different, how would you rate the overall job that President Barack Obama is doing on the economy?

    Base: All adults

    Total

    Mod/Ind.

    Cons/Tea Party

    2012 Swing states

    2008 5% states

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    21

    22

    5

    22

    22

    Excellent

    2

    4

    1

    2

    2

    Pretty good

    18

    18

    3

    20

    20

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    79

    78

    95

    78

    78

    Only fair

    33

    40

    2

    30

    34

    Poor

    46

    38

    93

    47

    44

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding; indicates less than .05%

     

    TABLE 6

    EXPECTATIONS FOR THE ECONOMY IN THE COMING YEAR

    In the coming year, do you expect the economy to…?

    Base: All adults

    Total

    Mod/Ind.

    Cons/Tea Party

    2012 Swing states

    2008 5% states

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Improve

    21

    20

    5

    21

    23

    Stay the same

    45

    54

    28

    44

    46

    Get worse

    34

    25

    67

    35

    31

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 7

    RATING OF ECONOMIC CONDITIONS IN REGION

    How would you rate the economic condition of your region of the nation?

    Base: All adults

    Total

    Mod/Ind.

    Cons/Tea Party

    2012 Swing states

    2008 5% states

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    GOOD (NET)

    12

    14

    10

    9

    5

    Very good

    2

    2

    4

    1

    *

    Somewhat good

    11

    13

    6

    8

    5

    Neither good nor bad

    22

    25

    13

    20

    20

    BAD (NET)

    65

    61

    78

    71

    75

    Somewhat bad

    39

    37

    33

    41

    46

    Very bad

    26

    24

    45

    30

    28

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 8

    RATING OF CURRENT JOB MARKET IN YOUR REGION – BY REGION

    How would you rate the current job market of your region of the nation?

    Base: All adults

    Total

    Mod/

    Ind.

    Cons/

    Tea Party

    2012

    Swing

    states

    2008 5% states

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    GOOD (NET)

    11

    13

    16

    6

    4

    Very good

    1

    2

    3

    1

     

    Somewhat good

    10

    11

    13

    5

    4

    Neither good nor bad

    22

    27

    11

    22

    20

    BAD (NET)

    67

    60

    73

    72

    75

    Somewhat bad

    39

    35

    32

    38

    42

    Very bad

    28

    25

    42

    34

    34

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding; indicates less than .05%

     

    TABLE 9

    VOTING ISSUES

    Now while all may be important issues, please choose the two issues that are most important to you when voting for a candidate.

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Mod/Ind.

    Cons/Tea Party

    2012 Swing states

    2008 5% states

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Cutting government spending

    38

    41

    51

    39

    38

    No tax increases

    26

    22

    26

    28

    28

    The recent Healthcare Reform Bill

    26

    27

    36

    24

    25

    Increased educational spending

    19

    22

    1

    19

    18

    Deporting more illegal aliens

    15

    12

    17

    12

    10

    Less government regulation

    13

    13

    31

    13

    15

    Cutting defense spending

    9

    14

     

    8

    7

    Abortion rights

    9

    6

    9

    10

    9

    Same-sex marriage

    8

    6

    4

    5

    5

    Reducing immigration

    8

    10

    9

    9

    7

    Stricter environmental protection

    8

    9

    *

    9

    8

    Prayer in school

    6

    3

    6

    9

    11

    Stricter gun control

    5

    6

    4

    6

    7

    Embryonic stem-cell research

    4

    5

    *

    3

    5

    Off-shore drilling

    3

    3

    5

    4

    4

    Note: Up to two responses allowed

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between September 12 and 19, 2011 among 2,462 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

    J40805

    Q1210, 1215, 1218, 1250, 705, 710, 715, 720, 860

    The Harris Poll® #106, October 6, 2011

    By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research