Democracy Fund, UCLA, and Lucid launch “Nationscape” — a weekly survey that will provide rare in-depth insights into localities and subgroups.
Washington, D.C. — October 11, 2019
What do American voters want? Democracy Fund's Voter Study Group and leading researchers from UCLA today unveiled an ambitious undertaking to answer this critical question. Nationscape, one of the largest public opinion surveys ever conducted, will comprise more than 500,000 interviews leading up to the 2020 elections.
The unprecedented sample size is designed to catch nuances missed by public opinion studies in 2016. Early data reveals important new insights about how events affect people’s attitudes and priorities, and how Democrats and Republicans weigh issues differently even when they are on the same side. Nationscape is fielded by market research platform Lucid.
“The scale of the project represents the complexity of American politics today. The project will illustrate differences across the country on the topics voters care about most, and the way voters trade off policies when choosing among sets of issues,” explained Lynn Vavreck, the Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics and Public Policy at UCLA and co-creator of Nationscape.
“Nationscape goes beyond horse race polls and battleground states and gets to the real issues that are driving voters and their decisions,” said Democracy Fund President Joe Goldman. “The unparalleled size and scope of this survey will help us understand how opinions differ across small geographic areas and groups of voters in ways not possible with traditional surveys, providing a deeper understanding of the electorate in this vital election.”
The large sample size of the Nationscape survey will allow in-depth insights into sub-groups of Americans often missed in election studies — including groups that were crucial to the outcome of the 2016 election — in addition to tracking attitudes and priorities over time and across geographies. These differences will be visible through Nationscape across most mid-size cities, counties, states, and regions.
UCLA political scientist Chris Tausanovitch, co-creator of the project, reported, “Nationscape is already showing the ways people’s attitudes and priorities change in response to events taking place in the country, and how Democrats and Republicans prioritize things differently — even when they agree on policies.”
Early Nationscape findings are revealing voters’ different prioritizations of key policy issues:
HOW EVENTS CHANGE CHOICES: ASSAULT WEAPONS — Nationscape data shows that overall support for or opposition to bans on assault rifles did not change very much after the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. However, when asked to choose among packages of policies they’d like to see put in place, voters on both sides of this issue were much more likely to choose sets that included assault rifle bans after the shootings. The issue had grown in impact even though opinions hadn’t changed much.
EVEN WHEN THEY AGREE, PARTISANS DIFFER: IMMIGRATION POLICY & MILITARY SPENDING — Democrats and Republicans often agree on policy solutions, including providing a pathway to citizenship for people brought to the country as children and maintaining the size of the military. Despite these areas of agreement, policies change slowly if at all. One reason is because even though most Democrats and Republicans would choose to live in a world with a pathway to citizenship, partisans vary in how committed they are to demanding action on issues. Democrats will give up military support if it means getting other things they care about more, and Republicans will trade away a pathway to citizenship for things they view as higher priorities.
Nationscape will allow researchers to measure attitudes and priorities on a range of policy issues — from climate change to impeachment to trade — over the course of the election and across the country. As breaking news unfolds, Nationscape will be able to show how opinions and priorities across regions or sub-groups are shifting or stable related to a particular policy area. New data and analysis will be released regularly on the Voter Study Group website at voterstudygroup.org/nationscape.
METHODOLOGY & TEAM
The Nationscape survey is conducted online and will interview approximately 6,250 Americans each week over the 80 weeks leading up to the 2020 election and the weeks following the election. The survey is fielded by Lucid, a programmatic market research platform providing access to data that the Nationscape team uses to produce and study weekly, representative samples of the population. The Nationscape partnership includes Democracy Fund Voter Study Group and UCLA political scientists Chris Tausanovitch and Lynn Vavreck. The Democracy Fund Voter Study Group is led by Program Director Alicia Kolar Prevost, Research Director Robert Griffin, Senior Research Advisor John Sides, and Democracy Fund's Lauren Strayer.
About Democracy Fund Voter Study Group
The Democracy Fund Voter Study Group is a research collaboration of more than two dozen analysts and scholars from across the political spectrum. Created in the wake of the 2016 election, the Voter Study Group’s goal is to better understand the American electorate. Research and analysis from Voter Study Group members can be found at www.voterstudygroup.org and on Twitter @democracyfund.
UCLA is an internationally renowned research university that takes in an average of nearly $1 billion in competitive research grants annually. U.S. News & World Report recently placed UCLA first among the world’s public universities, and the campus consistently is named in the top tier of global universities in a variety of rankings. With more than 100,000 applications each year, UCLA is the most-applied to university in the country.
Lucid is a programmatic market research platform that provides access to authentic, first-party data in over 100 countries. Its products and services enable anyone, in any industry, to ask questions of targeted audiences and find the answers they need — fast. These human answers can be used to uncover consumer motivations, increase revenue, and measure the impact of digital advertising. Founded in 2010, Lucid is headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana, with offices throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Australia.
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