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The South Carolina Primary: A Quick Look at Black Voters

By Sarah Dutton 

The South Carolina Democratic primary not only represented a must-win state for Joe Biden if he wanted to keep his candidacy viable, but it was also the first contest with a sizable African American voting population.  And with help from that voting bloc, Biden won the primary there. 

According to the Edison exit poll data there, 56% of voters in South Carolina were African American – down from 61% in 2016 – and they overwhelmingly supported Biden; he won 61% of their vote. Bernie Sanders came in second, far behind at 17%.  (Biden won among white voters as well, but by a far smaller margin.)  

Older black voters were especially strong Biden supporters; 69% of those over age 45 voted for Biden.

There were clear signs of how strongly black voters in South Carolina relate to Biden. Fully 84% of black voters hold a favorable view of Biden, higher than for any other candidate. He was the overwhelming choice for which candidate best understands the concerns of racial and ethnic minorities; 55% of black voters chose him.  And 60% of black voters said the endorsement of Biden by Representative Jim Clyburn – a senior black member of Congress from this state – was an important factor in their vote; 64% of them voted for Biden. 

And in what could only help Biden, 66% of black voters said they want a return to the policies of Barack Obama. 

As the Democratic nominating race moves into the Super Tuesday states, exit poll data will show whether Biden’s strong showing among black voters continues, and how much it contributes to his delegate count.

In the states voting on Super Tuesday, if historical trends hold black voters may not be as large a force as they were in South Carolina. Looking back at Edison exit poll data from the Democratic primaries in 2016, in only one of the states holding races this Tuesday did the black share of the vote reach as high as it was in South Carolina this year – in Alabama, 54% of 2016 Democratic primary voters were black.  Black voters were a smaller but still substantial percentage of the electorate in Tennessee (32%), North Carolina (32%), Arkansas (27%) and Virginia (26%). But in states like Oklahoma (14%), Massachusetts (4%) and Vermont (1%), they were a small sliver of voters. In states with low percentages of black voters, Biden will have to draw support from other groups of voters as well to prevail. 

In Texas, the voter group to watch are Latinos. While 19% of 2016 primary voters in Texas were black, they were outnumbered by Latinos, who comprised 32% of the electorate there.      

Edison Research will have its exit polling team spread out across the Super Tuesday states tomorrow. We’ll let you know how it all plays out. 

The New Hampshire Democratic Primaries – How They Won and Lost

By Sarah Dutton

The New Hampshire Democratic Primary electorate is overwhelmingly angry with the Trump administration (79%) and a majority is focused on candidates’ electability (63%) over issue positions (33%), according to Edison Research exit polls. 

The final vote tallies for the top three candidates – Sanders, Buttigieg and Klobuchar – showed a close race, and in the final days, a fluid one. There were twice as many “late deciders” – voters who made up their minds which candidate to support in the days leading up to Election Day – this year as in 2016; 51% of the electorate said they decided who to vote for on election day or in the last few days leading up to it, compared to 25% in 2016.  

Among those who decided on election day or in the last few days before election day, 28% supported Pete Buttigieg, and nearly as many – 26% – voted for Amy Klobuchar. Voters who made their minds up earlier in the race supported Sanders.

Both Buttigieg and Klobuchar had good news heading into the New Hampshire Democratic Primary: Buttigieg won the most state delegates in the Iowa caucuses, and Klobuchar was widely considered to have done well in the most recent Democratic debate.  The New Hampshire exit poll provides more evidence of the boost Klobuchar may have gotten from last Friday’s debate; 49% of voters said the recent debate was an important factor in their vote choice, and she won this group with 29%.

Perceptions of the candidates’ qualities also contributed to the strong showings by Sanders, Buttigieg and Klobuchar. Among the 36% of voters who said they want a candidate who can bring needed change, Sanders was their choice, with 37%.  A third said that a candidate that can unite the country was most important to them, and Klobuchar won them with 33%, followed by Buttigieg with 29%.   

Sanders won with strong support from voters under 30 (47%), the most liberal wing of the party (46%) and new voters (29%). 

Sanders, Buttigieg and Klobuchar took the top three spots in the final vote tally. What happened to two of the other frontrunning candidates, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren?  

Biden’s arguments about why he should be the nominee just didn’t connect with these voters. He has emphasized his foreign policy experience but came in third (20%) to Buttigieg (27%) and Klobuchar (23%) among voters who chose it as the most important issue in their vote (just 11% did so).  

Among the four in ten voters who want to see a return to the policies of his former boss President Barack Obama, 28% voted for Buttigieg and 26% for Klobuchar, with Biden in third place at 15%.  

And finally, Biden did poorly on one of his strongest arguments to voters, electability; among the 63% of voters focused on beating Trump in November, just 10% chose him as their candidate, after Buttigieg (28%), Sanders (21%), Klobuchar (21%) and Warren (11%). 

Warren did poorly with most demographic groups, coming in near the bottom of the field among both women and men, young voters under 30 and voters 65 or older, and Independents.  Thirty percent of white college-educated women voted for Klobuchar, twice the percentage that voted for Warren (15%). As a progressive candidate, she did better among very liberal voters (19%) but came in a distant second to Sanders (46%). 

There is plenty of additional data to mine from the New Hampshire exit poll – more noteworthy data nuggets to come! 

AFTER THE 2020 IOWA DEMOCRATIC CAUCUSES 

By Sarah Dutton

The Iowa caucuses are over (ish) and the candidates have moved on to New Hampshire, the next contest in the race for the Democratic nomination.  But as the first nominating contest, the entrance polls from the Iowa caucuses can offer some insights into potential trends among the electorate. How did electability factor into vote choice? Did voting patterns match assumptions about which demographic groups back each candidate? Did last minute campaigning have an impact on vote choice? Here are some takeaways from the Edison Research entrance polls, completed as voters went into their caucus locations. 

Electability mattered to nearly two in three caucus goers. These Democratic voters clearly prefer a candidate who can beat Donald Trump in November (61%) over one who agrees with them on the issues (37%). But Iowa voters who prioritize beating President Trump did not coalesce around one candidate who they view as most electable; similar percentages chose Buttigieg (24%) and Biden (23%).  Among the smaller percentage of voters who prefer a candidate with whom they agree on the issues, 36% chose Sanders.  

Moderates and liberals support different candidates, continuing a trend observed in Iowa in 2016.  In 2016, Clinton won moderate and conservative voters by 20 points, while Sanders won most of those who described themselves as very liberal by about the same amount – 19 points.  This year, very liberal voters once again supported Sanders (43%), followed by Elizabeth Warren (28%), while moderate and conservative voters evenly split their votes between Joe Biden (25%) and Pete Buttigieg (25%).  

There is also a gap between moderates and liberals on health care policy. While all three ideological groups chose health care as the most important issue in their vote, they disagreed on how health care policy should be structured.  Nearly nine in ten very liberal caucus goers support replacing private health insurance with a single government plan for everyone, and a majority of voters who are somewhat liberal agree. But support drops to only 35% of moderate/conservative voters. 

Sanders’ supporters overwhelmingly back replacing private health care with a government run system (92%). 

Late deciders broke for moderate candidates. Voters who decide on a candidate just before an election can make a difference in the results;  “late deciders” helped elect Donald Trump in November 2016, and gave Hillary Clinton a boost before the 2008 New Hampshire primary. In the Iowa caucuses this year, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg benefitted from the support of these late deciders; among those who made up their minds who to support on the day of the caucuses, Biden received 24% of their support and Buttigieg 21%. Sanders’ voters had made their minds up much earlier in the race; 64% of Sanders’ voters say they made up their minds before January. 

The age gap that was evident in pre-election polls was confirmed in the Iowa entrance polls. Voters under 30 backed Sanders (48%) over the other candidates by a sizable margin, and while his support was larger among this group in 2016, there are far more candidates in the race this year.  Voters age 65 and over backed Biden. And at 24%, these under-30 voters made up a larger share of the vote than in 2016 (18%) and 2008 (22%). Four in five Sanders’ supporters were under age 45.

 

 

 

 

 

Firsttime voters weren’t the force they have been in the past. There were fewer new voters, that is, those participating in a caucus for the first time, this year compared to past Iowa caucuses. Only 37% said this was their first time caucusing, down from 44% in 2016 and 57% in 2008. And while first-timers heavily supported Sanders in 2016, this year he wasn’t the only candidate who brought firsttime voters to the caucuses: 31% supported Sanders, and another 25% supported Buttigieg. 

Pete Buttigieg, who spent large blocks of time campaigning in Iowa, had a good night. While Buttigieg won few demographic groups outright, he ran well among many of them. He won among women (24%), and came in second to Sanders among men (21%). He came in second – again to Sanders – among voters under 45 and won those age 45 to 64. He won college graduates with 23% of the vote, and came in second among those without a college degree. Buttigieg tied Biden for the top spot among moderate/conservative voters (25%), and tied Sanders (24%) with those voters who said health care was the top issue in their vote choice. 

The Iowa caucus process benefits candidates who can hit the 15% threshold in the most precincts, and Buttigieg’s broad appeal among various demographics in the entrance poll helped him here too.  According to the latest results from the Iowa Democratic Party, Pete Buttigieg reached the 15% threshold in more than 80% of the precincts across the state, more than any other candidate. 

Next up –  New Hampshire, the first primary, to see whether these trends continue. 

Americans and Employer-Sponsored Health Care

by Matt Brownsword

Healthcare was a prominent topic at the most recent Democratic presidential debates. The conversation pitted the progressive, Medicare-for-all solution proposed by Senators Kamala Harris, among others, against the moderate, “build on Obamacare” plan put forth by former Vice President Joe Biden.

Senator Harris offered the idea that “it’s time that (the United States) separate employers from the kind of healthcare people get,” citing a portion of the population who “stick to a job that they do not like … simply because they need the healthcare that that employer provides.”

Just how embedded is the health insurance system into the workforce? Seventy-two percent of workers say their employer offers health care benefits, and more than 80% of those whose employers offer insurance benefits, use those benefits, according to a poll released by Edison Research and Marketplace, which spanned a variety of topics about the workplace.

That relationship between employer and health insurance can be the strongest tie some have to their job: 15% of American workers said that their healthcare benefits were the most important reason they work at their current job. Among those who say their job is “just a job” as opposed to being “part of a career,” that number jumps to almost one quarter of workers saying their health benefits are the most important reasons they work at their current job. This corroborates Harris’ example of an American “(sticking) to a job that they do not like, where they are not prospering,” because of the healthcare their employer provides.

The healthcare debate is going to rage on from the first few crowded Democratic primary debates to the national conventions, with both parties saying they have the best plan to mend the health insurance system.  According to voters, the American healthcare system is sorely in need of reform, with 70% of 2018 voters saying that the health care system needs major changes according to the 2018 NEP exit poll, conducted by Edison Research.  While there is agreement among voters – Democrats and Republicans – that the system needs to be fixed, there is a wide range of opinions about how to fix it.

 

About Edison Research
Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information in over 50 countries for clients including AMC Theatres, AMC Theatres, Amazon, Apple, The Brookings Institute, Facebook, The Gates Foundation, Google, the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, Oracle, Pandora, The Pew Research Center, Samsung, Spotify, and SiriusXM Radio. Our national tracking study The Infinite Dial (in its 22nd year in the United States and now also conducted in four other countries), and the syndicated Share of Ear® are two of the most widely-cited studies in the audio space. Edison is also the leading podcast research company in the world and has conducted research for NPR, Slate, ESPN, PodcastOne, WNYC Studios, and many more companies in the podcasting space. Edison is also the leading provider of face-to-face consumer research.  Edison’s network of more than 20,000 experienced interviewers allows the company to conduct research in almost any location.  Since 2004, Edison Research has been the sole provider of Election Day data to the National Election Pool. For the 2020 U.S. elections, Edison will provide exit polls and will tabulate the national vote across every county in the United States for ABC News, CBS News, CNN, and NBC News.

Democrats: Worried Sick About Health Care

By Evan Amereihn

The first Democratic Presidential debates start tomorrow. With more than 20 candidates vying for office, each candidate is working to break through the pack, win over voters, and make it to the second debate. As candidates hone their messages, they would be wise to consider the issues that are most important to Americans. The 2018 NEP exit poll conducted by Edison Research points to at least one clear topic to focus on: health care.

According to the exit poll, health care was the most important issue facing the country in the 2018 general election. Four in ten voters said that health care was the number one issue for them in deciding for whom to vote. And when solely considering the Democratic primary electorate, candidates should be even more focused on health care, as 57% of Democrats said that it was the most important issue.

If that isn’t enough evidence, 70% of all voters (73% of Democrats) said health care needed major changes. At a time when Americans are divided on many issues, both Republicans and Democrats agree that health care needs to be addressed. If the candidates have been doing their research, they will come at this issue hard on the debate stage this week and they will compete to propose the most appealing plan not only to Democrats but also the Independents they will eventually need in open primaries and the general election. Health care is the issue (again) this year, so get ready to hear more about single-payer systems, prescription drug prices, insulin price caps, and other potential health care solutions.