October 23, 2008

Liberal Dems Top Conservative Reps in Donations, Activism

Section 2: Campaign Contacts and Election Emotions

More voters say they have received mail from a candidate than say they have received a pre-recorded campaign call (46% vs. 37%), despite the increasing use of campaign “robo-calls” in this cycle. Reports of receiving campaign mail are now markedly higher than they were in March during the primary campaign (36% to 46%), but the proportion of voters saying they have received pre-recorded calls has remained stable.

Nearly a quarter of voters (24%) say they have received a personal, non-recorded call about the campaign, up from 16% in March. Overall, 46% of voters say they have received either pre-recorded campaign calls, personal calls or both. A relatively small share of voters (9%) say they have been visited at home by someone talking about the campaign.

At this point in the campaign, fully 15% of voters say they have contributed money to a presidential candidate, up from 9% in March. The current level is equal to the total reported immediately following the 2004 campaign. Today, more than one-in-ten voters say they have attended a campaign event (11%), up slightly from 8% in March. More Democrats, especially liberal Democrats, than Republicans or independents have attended campaign events and donated money to one of the candidates.

Battleground Campaign

While a greater proportion of committed Obama supporters have donated money to a presidential candidate or attended an event, McCain’s committed supporters are more likely than certain Obama backers to say they have received campaign mail or pre-recorded calls. Not surprisingly, campaign contacts are considerably higher for voters in battleground states, who receive more mail, phone calls and visits than voters in other states.

In these highly contested states, 68% of certain McCain supporters say they have received mail about one or more of the candidates, compared with 60% of swing voters and 59% of certain Obama supporters. Similarly, in these states, comparable percentages of certain McCain supporters (57%) and swing voters (54%) say they have received pre-recorded campaign calls; somewhat fewer certain Obama supporters living in the politically contested states (47%) report receiving such calls.

However, there are only slight differences in the percentages of McCain and Obama supporters and swing voters in the battleground states who say they have received personal campaign calls or been visited at home by someone talking about the campaign.

Campaign Calls Increase

Currently, 46% say they have received calls – recorded, personal or both – about the campaign.

In October 2004, only about a quarter of voters (26%) said they had been contacted by phone by a campaign, candidate or other group urging them to vote in a particular way (no distinction was made between personal and pre-recorded calls).

The current survey suggests that the frequency of campaign calls has increased substantially since the previous presidential campaign.

Emotional Reactions

With most national polls showing Barack Obama with a lead over John McCain, Obama supporters are optimistic about the election and appear more emotionally invested in the outcome compared with McCain voters. In particular, Obama supporters are much more likely to say they would feel angry or depressed if their candidate loses.

Asked about a series of emotions, 37% of Obama supporters say they would feel angry if the Democrat loses the election; 18% of McCain voters say they would feel angry if their candidate lost. Asked if they would feel depressed if the other candidate wins, 33% of Obama supporters say yes, compared with 18% of McCain voters. Similar levels of voters in each camp say they would feel disappointed (80% of Obama supporters, 78% of McCain’s) or worried (74% of Obama’s, 69% of McCain’s) if their candidate lost.

Younger Obama supporters say they would react strongly to a loss. About half (49%) of Obama voters ages 18 to 29 say they would be angry if the candidate loses. By contrast, just 31% of those ages 50 to 64 and 26% of those ages 65 and older say they would feel angry if McCain wins. In addition, Obama supporters who have attended college are more likely to say they would be angry if McCain wins than are with those with high school diplomas or less (41% vs. 31%). Among McCain supporters there is little difference between various age and education levels in the proportions who say they would be angry if their candidate does not win.

There are no significant differences by gender among supporters of either candidate in those who say they would be angry if the other candidate wins. Among Obama supporters, blacks and whites are just as likely to say they would be angry if their candidate loses. Nearly four-in-ten (37%) white Obama supporters say they would be angry if he loses, compared with 31% of black Obama supporters.

Notably, those who have been more involved in the campaigns, either by giving money or by attending campaign events, are more likely than others to say they would be angry if their candidate loses the election. For example, among Obama supporters, 51% who say they have contributed to a candidate say they would be angry if he loses, compared to 34% of those who have not contributed.