The Democracy Fund Voter Study Group is a new research collaboration of nearly two dozen analysts and scholars from across the political spectrum examining and delivering insights on the evolving views of American voters.  

As the 2016 presidential campaign unfolded, it became increasingly clear that the underlying values and beliefs driving voter decisions need to be better understood. To that end, Henry Olsen (Ethics and Public Policy Center) and Joe Goldman (Democracy Fund) convened a politically diverse group of conservative, progressive, and independent public opinion experts to study the electorate together. The group sought not to achieve consensus, but to engage in discussion about how the views of the electorate are evolving and what the implications of those changes may be.

As a newly formed collaborative, the group first reviewed existing research and identified additional questions that require study. The 2016 VOTER Survey (Views of the Electorate Research Survey) was the study group’s first original research. In partnership with YouGov, it polled 8,000 adults—most of whom had participated in similar surveys in mid-2016, 2012 and 2011, which allowed for a unique longitudinal data set and deep exploration into many hotly-debated subjects of the election. Following discussions among the group, individual study group members then authored reports about different aspects of the data. Each individual report represents the views of the signed author and not the larger study group.

The Democracy Fund Voter Study Group is led by project director, Henry Olsen; research director, John Sides; Joe Goldman and Lauren Strayer of Democracy Fund; and supported by report editor, Karlyn Bowman; and project manager, Alicia Kolar Prevost.

Our Mission

The research of the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group is designed to help policy makers and thought leaders listen more closely, and respond more powerfully, to the views of American voters. Our goal is to have more productive conversations where voters feel like they are truly heard. We hope the study group’s research and analysis helps us understand each other and make our democracy more functional.

Methodology Summary

In partnership with the survey firm YouGov, the 2016 and 2017 VOTER Surveys interviewed up to 8,000 Americans who had been previously interviewed both in 2011-2012 and in July 2016. View the Methodology for the 2017 VOTER Survey or the 2016 VOTER Survey.

Support for the Voter Study Group

In August 2016, Democracy Fund made a grant to Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC) to support a review of EPPC’s existing research on the 2016 electorate, conduct new research, and to facilitate a follow-up analysis and discussion regarding the findings of that research. The data referenced in this report is research performed by EPPC and YouGov.

Publication Disclaimer

The Democracy Fund Voter Study Group project is made possible through support from Democracy Fund. The views and opinions on this site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Democracy Fund, nor of all Voter Study Group participants.


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