New research and analysis by politically-diverse collaboration of public opinion experts will deliver insights on the evolving views of American voters
Washington, D.C. – June 13, 2017
The Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, a new research collaboration comprised of nearly two dozen analysts and scholars from across the political spectrum, today released its first trove of new data and analysis exploring voter perceptions before and after the 2016 election.
During the intense political division of the 2016 presidential campaign, the Voter Study Group began collaborating across ideological lines to examine the underlying values and opinions that influence voter decision-making. The expert group commissioned the VOTER Survey (Views of the Electorate Research Survey) of 8,000 adults who had participated in similar surveys in mid-2016, 2011, and 2012. This unique longitudinal data set provides the basis for four new reports analyzing many of the most hotly-debated subjects of the presidential election, including economic stress, trade, race, immigration, and the evolution of the parties.
“Voters who experienced increased or continued economic stress were inclined to have become more negative about immigration and terrorism, demonstrating how economic pressures coincided with cultural concerns to produce an outcome that surprised most of us,” said Henry Olsen, senior fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center and project director for the Voter Study Group. “However, not all Trump voters shared these sentiments, many of whom were simply partisan Republicans backing a candidate who echoed their longstanding concerns.”
“Our research follows the same set of voters from one election to the next, and looks at voters’ beliefs and affinities, to better understand what’s behind voter behavior and analyze what political polling typically misses,” said John Sides, associate professor at George Washington University and research director for Voter Study Group. “These data are helping us study what the rise of new movements and political figures mean for the future of our democracy.”
Key findings from the initial reports include:
The four initial reports, along with an executive summary, provide in-depth analysis of key data from the VOTER Survey and are available are available online. (Author affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.)
The VOTER Survey and reports were made possible by a grant from Democracy Fund to the Ethics and Public Policy Center to conduct new research about the changing trends among the American electorate.
“The unprecedented tenor and direction of the 2016 election and the ensuing political debate are not the result of one campaign or even one candidate, but instead of deeper trends in how American voters view their democracy and their political system,” said Joe Goldman, Democracy Fund president. “The wide-range of political perspectives represented in the Voter Study Group reflects an urgent need—one that goes beyond party—to better listen and respond to the needs of Americans across the country.”
Toplines and crosstabs from the VOTER Survey can be accessed online. Throughout this year, the Voter Study Group will release the full data set as well as additional reports on this and future surveys online.
VOTER Survey Methodology Summary
In partnership with the survey firm YouGov, the VOTER Survey interviewed 8,000 Americans in December 2016 who had been previously interviewed both in 2011-2012 and in July 2016. A complete survey methodology is available online.
About the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC)
Founded in 1976 by Dr. Ernest W. Lefever, the Ethics and Public Policy Center is Washington, D.C.’s premier institute dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy. From the Cold War to the war on terrorism, from disputes over the role of religion in public life to battles over the nature of the family, EPPC and its scholars have consistently sought to defend and promote our nation’s founding principles—respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, individual freedom and responsibility, justice, the rule of law, and limited government.
About the Democracy Fund
The Democracy Fund is a bipartisan foundation established by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar to help ensure that our political system can withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Since 2011, Democracy Fund has invested more than $60 million in support of modern elections, effective governance, and a vibrant public square.