Interest, importance, and improvement ideas (I⁴)
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The midterm elections are officially upon us. Maybe you’ve heard from campaigns, seen candidate profiles in the news, and you’re starting to think about who you might vote for. This is an important civic activity, and we were interested to know how you think about it.
Here are our questions and results. Below’s what I found most interesting.
First, our sample’s demographics
(When you look at surveys, it’s always a good idea to peak at that types of people that responded. Since we track how each person answers questions, we’re able to pull in responses from previous surveys for this. If some subscribers didn’t take the survey where we collected a demographic, they’re denoted by a “?” in the charts.)
As you can see, we heard from more women than men, more younger people than older, more liberals than conservatives, and most of our respondents are interested in politics than not. Keep that in the back of your mind with the views and findings below.
Republicans and older folks say they vote more
One of the first things we asked was how often you vote in major elections, from “Always” to “Never.” The weighted average chart of the overall results shows that most of our respondents responded Usually or Always. But let’s see if there are any interesting patterns if we slice it by some other data.
At first I looked at whether your degree of interest in politics seemed to determine how often you vote. That was a little interesting, but didn’t seem to do a great job separating voting behavior. For instance, a few people that said they’re not interested said they always vote. Good for them!
The first split that caught my attention was the party leaning’s split. Every single one of the Republican leaners responded “Always.” And though many of our Democrats said Always too, there were less of them proportionally. There were less still of the “Neither” party leaners — perhaps they have less motivation from their frustration with lack of options? Anyways, this seems to jive with research I’ve seen.
Next, I broke things down by age group. Though some respondents in their 40s might not like being grouped with our respondents in their 70s, sample sizes made that a good idea for comparison. And honestly, the answers were very similar.
With the age comparison, there looks to be a trend where the older you get, the more likely you are to “Always” vote. That’s also backed up by some research I read recently.
Voting for county offices less important?
One of our next questions was about how important voting is in races for local, county, state, and national offices. In the overall results, they look pretty similar, but I wanted to dig deeper on this.
First, I went back to those age groups I used earlier. With this view, it appears that all the age groups (except “?”s) have a dip in how important they rate county elections, compared to local and state. That’s interesting. I would have expected a trend of “more local, more important,” similar to what we found in the Government survey analysis.
Ok, what about the party view again? The dip from local to county exists across all three groups, but it’s even more pronounced in our Republican respondents. I wonder what that’s about…?
Another thing that jumps out to me about the party slice on voting importance is the responses from the Neither party leaners. For the other groups, state offices are at least as important as local, but for them, it’s kind of a gradual trend downwards in importance the broader the scope of the office. It’s odd that they show that trend and the other’s don’t, but this point of view actually jives better with my previous assumptions of “more local, more important.”
Now, let’s jump back to “interest in politics.” This slice seems to be the best at separating views on importance. It definitely looks like a relationship might be there between how interested you are in politics and how important you consider voting. Or, perhaps you’re just more understated in the way you describe the importance. (I’ve been looking at the percentage of people that answered “Extremely Important” as my general proxy for importance in these charts.)
More informed, more decided
Now, lets take a look at “decidedness” and “informedness.” You can see the overall views in the results page, but I wanted to overlap those and see if there’s a trend that says you get more decided the more informed you are — that’s seems like it’d make sense, though maybe some people have made their minds up without being very informed.
There definitely seems to be a relationship between your self-reported informedness and how decided you are on who you’d vote for.
However, I will caveat this that people are probably likely to inflate their true sense of informedness. People probably want to believe that they’ve got good reasons for who they’ve decided to vote for, whether they do or not…
Get off my lawn! Not appreciating door knocking
Ok, let’s talk about a kinda funny question and result. One question in the survey asked how much you appreciate it when a campaign knocks on your door. Overall, people were really spread out on this question, though they leaned towards not appreciating it.
Looking at it by age, I expected to see 40+ers as the least appreciative of door knockers. There’s a stereotype of them being grumpy and territorial right? Well, it looks like respondents in their 20s appreciate it the least! It is really annoying being pulled away from your video games…
What about other views? Well, the best one I could find was the “interest in politics” question, again. All of the not interested respondents are unappreciative of door knockers. The more interested in politics you are, the more you’re likely you are to not mind campaigning visitors. I get it — I usually don’t want to talk about stuff I’m not interested in either.
Everyone wants more 🎉s (political parties, that is)
One of our last questions was about what would make the voting experience better. There were 5 options available, and respondents needed to rank them based on priority. In the overall view, “More parties to choose from” was the clear winner, but can we get a more fine-grained view on that?
You bet we can. Let’s start with interest in politics again. Well, looks like the ranking of the improvements doesn’t really change from the overall view, but it’s interesting to see if there’s a trend on how interest influences each. (Yes, I’m interested in the interest.) For example, it’s slight, but there looks like there could be something with “Rank Voting” — the more interested in politics you are, the more you prioritize that option. Makes sense to me, it seems like a pretty wonky topic.
And, let’s check out the party angle too. Nothing major stands out, but there are two small things that I’m interested in with this chart. First, ‘Neither’s want more parties more than Dems and Reps. That totally makes sense — the current two party system isn’t working for them. Second, Republicans ranked “Closer Locations” higher compared to the other groups and “Voting Online” lower. Maybe most of the Republicans we heard from are older and less techie? Maybe. We don’t have age data for half of them, but the other half is definitely on the older side.
That’s all for quantitative analysis. Now we’re going to shift gears to qualitative, and see what interesting comments came through.
Lots of interesting comments, as usual. I’ve highlighted several that I think are particularly thought-provoking or representative, and I’ve bolded key phrases to help you skim.
What gets too much attention?
[How] other people are voting. If they know someone doesn’t have a big chance due to polls, they vote for the likely winner, which is total crap. VOTE FOR WHO YOU WANT TO VOTE FOR, ALWAYS. So important.
Partisan politics. I wish people would spend more time thinking about the issues, and the solutions that they think make sense, and vote based on that. Also, they’d be much more pleasant to talk to…
That people have time and resources to put campaign signs out shocks me. How are people paying enough attention to a name in someone’s yard for it to be worth the effort and litter?
[Voter] Fraud. It’s not a thing. It’s a smokescreen to disenfranchise people of color from voting.
Their ‘tribal’ identity, rather than the issues and how it affects them. It causes them to vote against what would benefit them and for actions that actually harm them.
How an individual voter “feels” about politics — especially voters of privilege. Too often, people assess their votes as a personal act — “I just didn’t like Hillary”, for example — without considering that voting is fundamentally a communal act. It is frustrating that voters sometimes pay so much attention to their personal feelings about a candidate that they lose sight of the actual stakes of an election FOR OTHER PEOPLE. Voters who can afford the time to deliberate about their emotional response to a candidate are often not the ones who will suffer because of that response.
Party affiliation and team politics. I do not like the way either Party operates politically now, but I vote D more often because the policies align with my values and there are rarely Independent candidates. I vote for candidates despite the Party they have chosen to affiliate with, not because of it. I am very tired of the Party politics of us vs them, my team is better than yours. There are some good people, playing for two pretty undesirable teams right now.
I think there’s a lot of disenfranchisement in Idaho among the more liberal voters — “It’s a red state so my vote doesn’t matter”. There’s something to that in terms of a national election, but I think it’s important to remember that we can make a difference when voting at a local level.
What doesn’t get enough attention?
Absentee ballots — it is much easier if everyone is sent a ballet instead of having to visit polling places.
Local elections; the actual voting record of the candidates (which shows you if they will keep their promises or not)
Facts. Too many people are looking for entertaining drama rather than what candidates will really do and the impact they will have.
I don’t think voting is accessible enough to all people. From online voting options to making voting day a mandatory paid holiday, it should be possible for all people to have the time and means to cast votes.
Actually being informed about candidates, looking outside the party lines to choose who will be best. I also think young people pay too little attention to elections. I work at a university where I am surrounded by students who are uninterested, think their vote isn’t important, or who can’t (won’t) access the resources they need to be an informed voter.
Legalized bribery under current lobbyist regulations.
The actual instances of “voter-fraud” which are not committed by individual voters trying to game the system, but by officials (historically right-wing ones) systematically disenfranchising people whether by gerrymandering, making voter registration and voting a cumbersome and inaccessible process, or simply trying to purge names off voter rolls. We like to pretend we live in the world’s best and most-free nation, but when you look at the makeup of our governing systems and the tiny amount of people who are actually involved in the political decision making process, I don’t think we have the credibility to call ourselves a democracy.
We don’t have enough options for candidates. It’s a high “cost of entry into the market” so we only get career politicians, who aren’t necessarily the best choice.
That if the people don’t vote, our representatives will be further influenced by big money interests. The corporations and lobbys never miss an election because they know it matters.
Policy. Unfortunately, people vote for people, not policy. But whether or not you feel like could have a beer with him/her won’t matter when your drinking water is laced with arsenic because your favorite candidate dismantled the EPA.
Local positions like county commissioners. A big chunk of taxes we pay are for property taxes, yes even renters pay these through their rent. Shouldn’t you know the names of the three people at the county level deciding how those are used? Politics is local.
How voting for ACHD is more important in Boise. They almost have more power than the city, but we know less about them and simply hold the city accountable when they fail.
That’s all folks!
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