About a quarter of Americans agree with Democrats on one issue and Republicans on the other.
Washington, D.C.—August 6, 2019
Coverage of “swing voters” in American elections tends to assume that such voters are moderate centrists. But recent survey research finds that most currently undecided voters are “cross pressured,” with conflicting preferences rather than consistently moderate views. Indeed, on two central issues — the economy and immigration — about a quarter of Americans hold split views, torn between being closer to one party on immigration and another on economic policy.
These “cross-pressured” voters will be crucial to next year’s election. In the 2018 midterm elections, the G.O.P. lost support among economically liberal/anti-immigration Americans (19 percent of voters) while gaining support among economically conservative/pro-immigration Americans (8 percent of voters). Both types of cross-pressured voters are more likely than other Americans to say they are undecided about who they will vote for in the 2020 presidential election.
In the new Democracy Fund Voter Study Group report, “Opposing Forces: Issues Dividing Voters Ahead of Election 2020,” Lee Drutman, senior fellow at New America, uses data from the 2018 and 2019 VOTER Survey (Views of the Electorate Research Survey) to offer new insights into how the electorate has shifted since the 2016 presidential election and how views of the economy and immigration could impact the 2020 election.
Among the report’s key findings:
Americans’ Views on the Economy and Immigration
Where the Parties Stand
“Voters who are cross pressured on the economy and immigration represent a key hinge point for the upcoming election,” Drutman said. “We often think of elections as a competition for moderate, centrist swing voters. But this analysis reveals that many of these swing voters are not so much moderate as they are cross pressured, and may decide who to vote for based on what issues the candidates emphasize.”
The Democracy Fund Voter Study Group is a research collaboration of leading analysts and scholars from across the political spectrum. The full report can be found at www.voterstudygroup.org, along with other research from the Voter Study Group.
Subscribe to our mailing list for updates on new reports, survey data releases, and other upcoming events.