October 23, 2008

Liberal Dems Top Conservative Reps in Donations, Activism

More Than a Quarter of Voters Read Political Blogs

Overview

With less than two weeks to go before Election Day, voters remain riveted to the presidential campaign. But liberal Democrats are leading the way by engaging in far more activism than other partisan and ideological groups.

By almost any measure of political interest or activity, liberal Democratic voters are more strongly connected to this election than are conservative Republicans or other voters. Fully nine-in-ten liberal Democrats (91%) say they are giving quite a lot of thought to the election; somewhat fewer conservative Republicans (84%) say they are giving a great deal of thought to the election.

However, when it comes to direct political involvement – making campaign contributions or attending events – liberal Democratic voters hold much larger advantages over conservative Republicans. More than a third of liberal Democrats (34%) say they have contributed money to any of the presidential candidates during course of this campaign, which is more than double the percentage of conservative Republicans who say they have made donations (13%). And nearly three times as many liberal Democrats as conservative Republicans say they have attended a political event during the campaign (21% vs. 8%).

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Oct. 16-19 among 2,599 registered voters interviewed on landline phones and cell phones, finds new indications of the internet’s expanding reach in political communication. Fully 39% of voters say they have watched some form of online video relating to the election – either candidate debates, interviews with the candidates, speeches or campaign commercials.

Liberal Democrats also are far more likely than others to watch online campaign videos or find election information on the internet. Six-in-ten liberal Democratic voters say they have watched some form of campaign video (debate, commercial, etc.), compared with 33% of conservative Republicans. In addition, 43% of liberal Democrats say they read blogs about politics and the campaign; only about half as many conservative Republicans (22%) say they have read political blogs.

Perhaps not surprising given their intense interest, liberal Democrats more often than other voters say they would have an intense emotional reaction if their candidate does not win the election.

In general, large majorities of Obama supporters and McCain supporters say they would be disappointed and worried if the opposing candidate wins on Nov. 4. But far more Obama supporters than McCain supporters say they would be angry and depressed if their candidate lost. Nearly four-in-ten Obama supporters (37%) say they would feel angry if McCain won, while 33% say they would feel depressed; among McCain supporters, just 18% say they would feel angry – and 17% depressed – if Obama wins.

Liberal Democratic supporters of Obama far more often than other Obama supporters say that, if McCain prevails, they would experience all of the emotions mentioned. More than half of liberal Democratic supporters of Obama (56%) say they would be angry if McCain wins, compared with 37% of all Obama supporters. The possibility of an Obama victory generates far less anger among conservative Republicans; just 20% say they would feel angry if Obama wins the election.

The survey finds that both campaigns are devoting the lion’s share of their political outreach efforts to targeting voters in the political battleground states. Fully 62% of voters in battleground states say they have received mail about one or more of the candidates, while 52% have received pre-recorded telephone calls about the campaign. Far fewer voters in so-called red and blue states report being inundated with mail and robo-calls from the campaigns.

Campaign Outreach

In the battleground states, more McCain supporters than Obama supporters say they have received mail and pre-recorded phone calls about the campaign. About six-in-ten McCain supporters in the battleground states (58%) say they have received pre-recorded campaign calls, compared with 47% of Obama supporters in these politically contested states. Comparable percentages of the supporters of both candidates say they have received personal phone calls or been visited at home by someone talking about the campaign.

The survey finds that, in general, the allegations of possible voter fraud and vote suppression in the upcoming election have stirred only modest concern among voters. Just a third of all voters believe that the possibility of ineligible voters casting votes – or some voters voting multiple times – represents a major problem. However, a substantial minority of Republican voters (45%) view this as a major problem; by comparison, just 23% of Democratic voters say the possibility of ineligible voters casting ballots is a major problem.

Somewhat fewer voters than in the last presidential election in the percentage of voters saying they are very confident that their vote will be counted accurately (57% vs. 62%). Republicans are less confident in an accurate vote count than in October 2004 (66% now, 75% then). Still, more Republicans than Democrats (54%) say they are very confident their vote will be counted accurately.