March 9, 2019

Poll Watch: What We Want in 2020

I thought it was time to take a look at what Americans are thinking, or at least what a representative sampling of us are thinking, anyway.

There was a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll on the 2020 race, taken in the last few days of February.  Here are some excerpts from the article announcing the findings:
A year and a half before the 2020 presidential election, president Donald Trump faces formidable obstacles in his bid for re-election...
But Democrats who want to defeat Trump have hurdles of their own...
Add it up, and 2020 is shaping up to be yet another close presidential race, say the Democratic and Republican pollsters who conducted the NBC/WSJ survey. 
Before we look the results, let's do the small print. The survey was conducted 2/24 - 2/27, with 900 respondents, 405 of whom have only cell phones and 22 who were interviewed on cell phones but  also have land lines. 720 of the respondents were registered voters; 48% were male; 72% were white and 88% were non-Hispanic.  44% were at least 50 years old.

The very first question was on the extent to which respondents approved or disapproved of the president's job performance. 46% overall approve (31% strongly), while 52% disapprove (43% strongly). The last time his approval rating was that high was in November; the last two months, it's been steady at 43% approve/54% disapprove. What with the government shutdown making a mess of things, I'm not surprised it dropped, or that it went up once the shutdown was officially over.

On foreign policy, the approve/disapprove ratio was 43%/52%.

Let's see what else the survey showed.

To make it easier, and since this is a stat valid sample, I'm going to use 'us' or similar terms, instead of referring to ''respondents' going forward.

Next up, the questions were on our opinions of a variety of public figures or ideas, ranging from very positive to don't know/not sure.  Below are the very positive, neutral, and very negative results: all are percentages.
  • Donald Trump: 30/33/40
  • Melania Trump: 23/33/11
  • Michele Obama: 40/17/16
  • Capitalism:  30/24/9
  • Socialism: 6/27/36
Michele Obama, with a +32 net positive, and capitalism (+31) won the day. Socialism (-32) was the biggest loser.

We also think that the government should do more to help people (55%) than we think it's already doing too much (41%), which is kind of interesting based on the results from the previous question.

Moving on to 2020, we were asked if we'd definitely or probably vote for the president or if we'd vote for the Democrat. Trump's total was 41%, with 27% saying they would definitely vote for him. The generic Democrat took 48%, with 33% definitely going that way.

Most of us still believe in the two-party system, but we want to make it better (47%), vs. leaving it alone (11%), but 38% think we need a third party because the current system is broken.

When it comes to candidates, Democrats would rather have someone who is ideologically similar than just whoever can beat Trump, by +16. And, it seems (by +13), they are more interested in big ideas, no matter the cost and even if they won't pass, than they are in incremental, passable, more cost-effective ideas.

And, while the Republicans are not convinced they're going to vote for him, they're not very interested in seeing a primary challenge to the president, either. Only 37% saying that would be good, compared to the 59% who said no.

And what should that candidate be? The survey asked our comfort level with different characteristics; the top 'enthusiastic' and 'comfortable' scores are below.
  • an African American: 21/66
  • a white male: 16/70
  • a woman: 25/59
  • a gay or lesbian: 14/54
  • an independent, with no party affiliation: 13/47
We're not overly thrilled about someone under 40 (11/47) but we're less thrilled about someone over 75 (4/33) and we are not at all interested in a socialist (4/21). I do love the diversity call-outs, with a woman and an African American having the most enthusiastic support.

Finally, let's look at where we think the two parties are, relative to the mainstream, on some hot policy issues: climate change, health care, immigration, abortion, and fiscal issues such as taxing and spending, regardless of whether or the person agreed with the party's position.

First the Dems: on four of the five issues, more than 50% believed that the party was in the mainstream; only the score for fiscal issues was not. Below are the 'in the mainstream' percentages and net difference (margin) for each:
  • climate change: 54%, +19
  • health care: 56%, +19
  • immigration: 52%; +10
  • abortion: 51%, +10
  • fiscal issues: 46%, -1
Compare that to the Republican Party's positions, not one of which had a majority 'in the mainstream' vote, and all but one of which were under water on the margin:
  • fiscal issues: 47%, 0 margin
  • immigration: 45%, -5
  • health care: 41%, -9
  • abortion: 38%, -16
  • climate change: 29%, -34
Remember this when the politicians from either party tell you they're doing what Americans voted for - because, as we see almost daily, it feels like they're not doing what we want -they're doing what they want.

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