Primary vs General Comparison Print E-mail
Friday, 23 November 2022
My usual technique for the Texas presidential primary polls is to compose my sample of voters with a history of voting in primaries, and then limiting the responses to those who say they will vote in the party's primary that they have previously voted in. It's a tight screen to reflect low turnout. The general election will see five times the number of voters as both primaries combined.

As we get to the point that more voters are tuning in, I decided to do a comparison poll of the population that does not vote in primaries, but does vote in the general elction. In the last presidential election, 7.4 million Texans voted, compared to about 840 thousand in the Democratic primary and 690 thousand in the GOP primary. One might expect the GOP to have a larger primary turnout than the Democrats since they have dominated recent general elections, but that's not the case. Only 15% of Bush voters had voted in the primary while 30% of Kerry voters had. This means that this non-primary voting population is tilted heavily in favor of Bush voters since they are a larger percentage of a larger number. Sixty-five percent of this population voted for Bush and only thirty-five percent voted for Kerry.

The line of questioning was slightly different than the primary polls. Rather than ask which party and then listing that party's candidates, I asked if the respondent had a favorite candidate, then which party that candidate belonged to and finally listed that party's candidates. I did this to focus on candidate appeal rather than party allegiance. After the candidate questions, I asked the same issue questions that were in the primary polls. General election voters, being less interested in politics, were less likely to take the poll, so I only got 375 responses, despite making 50% more calls than I usually do for the primary polls. Margin of error is larger, especially after splitting the sample three ways into both parties and 'no favorite'.

Of the respondents with a favorite, the Democrats did better than the 2004 number would indicate. Rather than a 65/35% split, Republicans only led 55/45%. It's likely that the fluctuating GOP race caused a few GOP voters to be undecided rather than picking a favorite, so that may skew the numbers a bit. However, when the numbers are broken down by gender, a clear split is observed. Men vote Republican 60/40%, not far from expected, but women vote almost exactly 50/50%. There has been speculation that Clinton may be attracting Republican women, but I can't confirm that from this data. Clinton received 33% of all women's support while the GOP frontrunner Giuliani received only 16%, followed by Obama at 12% and Romney at 10%. Among men, Giuliani received 23% to Clinton's 19%, Obama's 12% and Romney's 11%. It shound be noted that both Clinton and Giuliani do better among women within their respective party primary voters. Thompson and Huckabee trail McCain among both sexes.

Ron Paul supporters have suggested that he is attracting Democratic crossover voters, but there is no evidence in these results. He received 3% of the total vote. Among only those who picked a GOP candidate as their favorite, his percentage is almost identical to his support among GOP primary voters.

The Issues

I asked a series of issue questions, first asking respondents to rate six issues on a scale of 1-9 on how important it was for the next president to address, followed a question on Iraq troop levels. For the Democratic primary poll I had included some initial analysis using averages, but the distribution of ratings is not really well suited to averages. In that poll. Barack Obama supporters were the most likely to support a troop increase, but they were also the most likely to support quick withdrawal. An average value loses this information. Instead, I've put together a series of bubble graphs that graphically represent the percentages of each rating. I've combined the data from different polls into a single graph to compare the ratings of each party's primary voters with the ratings of general election voters by party preference as well as undecided. As noted above, the undecided voters are heavily weighted with past Bush voters. A second series of graphs compares the ratings for the supporters of the first and second place candidates for each party. Since the Republicans have a tie for second, there are total of five candidates. This series includes candidate supporters from both the primary and general election polls, though most are primary voters.

Many graphs after the break - dialup beware!

Global Warming

The two parties are the most polarized on global warming. The majority of Republicans consider it extremely unimportant (8 or 9), while the majority of Democrats rate it as very important (1 or 2). Still, within each party, 11-18% take the very opposite end of the spectrum. Undecided voters are right in between, with a slight tilt towards unimportant.

The Economy

Much more agreement on 'The Economy,' with the majority considering it very important. There is some variation, with 67% of Democratic primary voters giving it top importance, compared to 46% of Republican primary voters. Other groups were in between. There was some variation between age groups, with voters 60+ giving this the highest ratings (below).

Among candidates, Giuliani and Obama supporters were close to the average, while Thompson and Huckabee supporters were less likely to give the economy top importance. Clinton supporters were the most likely to give it the top rating.

Troop Levels

The parties are polarized on troop levels. Almost two thirds of Republicans want to maintain or increase the current troop levels in Iraq, while 90% of Democrats want the troops brought home, Undecided voters are split between the four options, though bringing the troops home outweighs the other options 60-40. Again, this group is two thirds Bush voters. Among 60+ voters (below), Democratic primary voters are about evenly split between bringing the troops home gradually and bringing them home quickly, but Democratic general election voters want them home quickly by a better than two to one margin. "

Among the candidates, Giuliani supporters are twice as likely as Thompson and Huckabee supporters to call for bringing the troops home. As noted earlier, Obama supporters are more likely than other Democratic candidates' supporters to want increased troop levels, but they are also the most likely to call for bringing the troops home quickly. This includes the other candidates not shown in the graph.

In looking at gender splits, women tended to give higher importance than men to healthcare and global warming, but the differences were not all that much. Other issues were fairly uniform.

The 'War in Iraq' results are a little mixed as I think different voters had different interpretations. An unimportant rating might mean that the goals of the war weren't important or that there should be greater emphasis on other issues while an important rating might mean winning the war or ending the war. Voters who favored bringing the troops home quickly gave this issue ratings at both ends of the spectrum, I've included the results to be complete, but I wouldn't draw too many conclusions from them.

I've only included a few of the graphs - download an Adobe Acrobat pdf of the full series here. This doesn't include age or gender breakdowns.

Last Updated ( Friday, 23 November 2022 )
< Prev   Next >
I want to see some polling on...
Copyright IVR Polls - 2008