August 2, 2010

Earmarks Could Help Candidates in Midterms; Palin and Tea Party Connections Could Hurt

Overview

In the congressional elections this fall, candidates with a record of bringing government projects and money to their districts may have an edge. A majority of Americans (53%) say they are more likely to vote for a candidate with a record of delivering earmarks for their districts; just 12% say they would be less likely to vote for such a candidate. A third of the public (33%) says this would make no difference in their vote either way.

Far fewer say support from Barack Obama, Sarah Palin or affiliation with the Tea Party movement would make them more likely to vote for a candidate in this year’s congressional elections, according to the latest Pew Research/National Journal Congressional Connection poll, sponsored by SHRM, conducted July 29-August 1 among 1,003 adults. Americans are divided on the value of Obama campaigning for a candidate, while both Palin’s support and Tea Party affiliation are seen by more as negative than positive.

About a quarter (27%) say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate Obama campaigned on behalf of, while about the same number (28%) say Obama’s support would make them less likely to vote for a candidate; a plurality (43%) says it would make no difference in their vote. In contrast, nearly four-in-ten (38%) say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate Palin has campaigned for; just 18% would be more likely to vote for a Palin-supported candidate and 42% say Palin’s endorsement would have no impact. And about three-in-ten (31%) say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who is a supporter of the Tea Party, 22% say they would be more likely and 41% say it would have no effect.

Across party lines, the public sees earmarking by their congressional candidates as more of an asset than a liability. Nevertheless, Democrats (66%) are more likely than both Republicans (47%) and independents (46%) to say a candidates’ record of bringing money and projects to their home district makes them more likely to vote for the candidate. Just 6% of Democrats, 17% of Republicans and 12% of independents say this would make them less likely to vote for a candidate for Congress.

Obama, Palin, Tea Party Associations Have Little Appeal to Independents

Republican, Democratic and independent opinions differ considerably about the impact campaigning by Barack Obama or Sarah Palin, or affiliation with the Tea Party movement, would have on their vote.

A majority of Republicans say a candidate who received support from Obama would be less likely to get their vote (57%). By contrast, 45% of Democrats say the President’s support would make them more likely to vote for a candidate. Independent opinion about Obama’s endorsement is more mixed. Two-in-ten (20%) say it would make them more likely to vote for a candidate and 28% say it would make them less likely to do so; half of independents (50%) say an Obama campaign stop would make no difference to their vote.

Sarah Palin is similarly polarizing. A majority of Democrats (58%) say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate receiving the former vice-presidential candidate’s support. Conversely, 41% of Republicans say such an endorsement would make them more likely to give a candidate their vote. About twice as many independents say Palin’s support would make them less likely to vote for a candidate (36%) as say it would make them more likely to do so (15%), while about half of independents (47%) say Palin’s support would make no difference to their vote.

Among Republicans and Democrats, the impact of support for the Tea Party movement follows a pattern similar to Palin’s endorsement. More than four-in-ten Republicans view support for the Tea Party as a positive attribute, while nearly half of Democrats (49%) see it as a negative. Independents are split; a-quarter (25%) say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who is a supporter of the Tea Party movement, while about the same number (27%) say they are less likely to vote for a Tea Party supporter.

ON ENERGY POLICY, PUBLIC BACKS WIDE RANGE OF GOALS

As Congress and the president discuss U.S. energy policy, there is no public consensus on top priorities and broad public support for a wide range of specific policy options.
The latest Pew Research Center/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, sponsored by SHRM conducted July 29-August 1 among 1,003 adults, finds that energy independence, environmental protection, low prices and job creation are all seen as very important goals for U.S. energy policy. Roughly two-thirds (69%) say reducing America’s dependence on foreign sources of energy should be a very important goal for Congress and the president in any decisions on energy policy. The same number say keeping energy prices low is very important. Nearly as many (64%) say creating jobs within the energy sector should be a very important goal of energy policies, and 61% believe protecting the environment from the effects of energy development and use is a very important goal.
When asked to pick the one goal that should take highest priority, energy independence ranks at the top of the list. About three-in-ten (31%) say reducing America’s dependence on foreign energy should take priority in the energy policy debate. Roughly two-in-ten choose each of the other three goals as the top priority.

The goals of energy independence and keeping energy prices low are equally important across party lines. Roughly seven-in-ten Republicans, Democrats and independents say these should be very important goals of U.S. energy policy. There is more of a partisan gap over environmental protection and job creation. Far more Democrats (76%) than Republicans (46%) see protecting the environment from the effects of energy development and use as a very important goal. And Democrats are also significantly more likely than Republicans (73% vs. 56%) to say that creating jobs within the energy sector should be a very important goal. These partisan differences are less pronounced when respondents are asked to pick their single highest priority among these goals.

Broad Support for Various Energy Policies

About three-quarters (78%) of the public favors requirements that utilities produce more energy from wind, solar or other renewable sources. And while 72% favor expanded exploration and development of coal, oil and gas in the U.S., about as many (69%) favor stricter regulations on oil drilling. A majority of the public also supports limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions (65%) and incentives for increased development of nuclear power (56%).

While there are partisan differences over these various energy policies, most are backed by majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents. Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to support stricter regulations on oil drilling (82% vs. 56%) and limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions (76% vs. 57%). Democrats are also somewhat more likely to support requirements that utilities produce more energy from renewable sources (83% vs. 74%).

In contrast, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to favor expanded exploration and development of domestic sources of coal, oil and gas (85% vs. 70%). And while two-thirds of Republicans (67%) support incentives for increased development of nuclear pow
er, half of Democrats (50%) favor this. Majorities of independents support all of these proposals.

Cite this publication: “Earmarks Could Help Candidates in Midterms; Palin and Tea Party Connections Could Hurt.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (August 2, 2010) http://www.people-press.org/2010/08/02/earmarks-could-help-candidates-in-midterms-palin-and-tea-party-connections-could-hurt/, accessed on July 23, 2014.