A Struggling Electorate: Findings from a National Survey of Voters


A recent poll of registered voters commissioned by American Women, Voto Latino Action Network and iAmerica Action[1] found that women and particularly millennial women—remain highly negative toward Trump and his views.  According to the poll, women strongly favor a candidate who will push for progressive economic policies, including  equal pay, college affordability, paid sick days and family leave, and reproductive rights. 

The poll also points to a continuing sense of anxiety and economic struggle for voters.

The following are key findings from a national online survey of 800 registered voters conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.

 

Voters show strong support for candidates who support economic policies that help women and families

Instead of incendiary rhetoric that divides people, voters—particularly women and millennial women—indicate strong support for candidates who are willing to stand up for progressive economic policies that can help with their struggles, including college affordability, pay equality, and paid sick and paid family leave in the workplace. 

American women also have a strong preference for candidates who will protect reproductive health choices including birth control and abortion; more than two-thirds of millennial women say they would be more likely to support a candidate for elected office who took these positions, with more than half (52 percent) who say they are “much more likely” to support a candidate who will work to protect women’s reproductive health choices.

Women are anxious about their economic future, and they want candidates for office to stand up for their economic priorities, including access to reproductive health care, instead of trying to divide people in ways that do nothing to address the economic challenges facing women and families.

 

Many are struggling—and failing—to get ahead in the current economy, and women are more concerned about their economic situation than men

Voters are unhappy about the country’s direction, with 69 percent of both men and women who say that things in the country are seriously off on the wrong track. 

Economic concerns underlie a great deal of this dissatisfaction, particularly among women.  Fifty-nine percent of women count bills and expenses among their top stresses, compared to 49 percent of men.  The anxiety is more heightened among younger and unmarried women; among millennial women, more than two thirds (68 percent) say bills and expenses are a top source of stress and among unmarried women 65 percent say bills and expenses cause the most stress in their lives.

Women are also more likely than men to report being working class or middle class—and struggling to stay there.  Overall, 35 percent of voters say they are working class, 49 percent middle class, and 15 percent upper middle class or higher.  However, 39 percent of women call themselves working class, compared to 32 percent of men.  More troubling, nearly one quarter of women say they are in this lower class and struggling to remain there; just 16 percent of men fall into this category.  Members of the Rising American Electorate—youth, people of color, and unmarried women—also disproportionately report being working class and struggling.

 

Despite attempts to capitalize on economic fears, hostility toward Trump remains high for most voters

Views on Trump remain highly negative across the electorate.  Trump receives negative ratings from men and women, as well as older and younger voters. 

Women are some of Trump’s harshest critics. 72 percent of millennial women give Trump negative ratings, as well as 79 percent of women of color and 74 percent of unmarried women.  Democrats and Independents are also very negative; even among Republicans, Trump receives a mixed reaction.

In spite of his highly negative ratings, Trump continues to rely on racist rhetoric intended to further divide voters and appeal to existing racial resentment.  Sixty-two percent of White voters believe that Whites are losing out because of preferences for Blacks and Hispanics. The opposite is true among Blacks and Hispanics, with 79 percent of Hispanics and 98 percent of African Americans who believe they are losing out because of preferences for Whites.

However, Trump’s attempt to capitalize on this resentment and racial divide does not impact many voters.  Only the bloc of voters who think whites are “losing out strongly” (12 percent of our sample) give him positive ratings.  This bloc is disproportionately Republican, older white men, and white blue collar voters.  Even those who think whites are “losing out somewhat” have negative feelings toward Trump, and those who think Blacks and Hispanics are losing out are overwhelmingly negative toward Trump.

The dislike for Trump has an impact on reactions to policy proposals, including on immigration, which has been a central focus of his campaign.  Latinas strongly oppose the isolationist policies promoted by Trump, with 83 percent in opposition to building a wall along the Mexican border and 73 percent who oppose deporting undocumented immigrants. 

Among voters overall, while more than three-quarters (78 percent) of voters favor immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already living here, they split evenly on the idea of building a wall along the border with Mexico.  However, when the wall proposal is presented as a quote clearly from Trump saying, “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall” support drops precipitously to 40 percent, with 59 percent in opposition.