Pew Post-Election Survey Has Some Interesting Numbers for Election Geeks, Too

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[Image courtesy of Pew Research Center]

Few public opinion houses enjoy more respect than the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, and the Center’s latest poll on post-election attitudes has lots for political junkies to digest: prospects for bipartisan cooperation, expectations for the last two years of the President’s term and opinions on everything from Keystone XL to Obamacare.

But there are some tasty morsels for election geeks as well.

Did people vote and if not, why? Low turnout was obviously a story in 2014 – but not in the Pew sample. According to the full report, 77% of 1,081 people surveyed said they had cast ballots. [Q.3]

Of those who didn’t (from the Pew release):

Among those who were registered to vote but chose not to, two-thirds (67%) gave reasons related to lack of time: 35% had work or school conflicts and 34% were too busy, ill, out of town or simply forgot. Two-in-ten (20%) registered non-voters say they either didn’t like the candidate choices or issues on the ballot, didn’t care about this election or didn’t have any or enough information to vote. And 10% of non-voters reported having a technical reason for not voting, either having missed the registration deadline, recently moving, or not have transportation to the polls. [2% reported being ineligible due to a felony conviction or some other reason. Q.4]

When did people vote? Very interesting findings – in particular, the growing regionalization of early and absentee voting plus some age differences. From the release:

The share voting before Election Day has increased in recent years: 29% of voters say they cast their ballot prior to Election Day this year, up from 20% in 2006 and 15% in 2002. Still, early voting is more prevalent in years when there is a presidential election: In 2012, fully 37% of voters said they voted prior to Election Day.

Voters ages 65 and older continue to be more likely than others to vote before Election Day: 40% say they did so, compared with about one-in-four of those under 65.

Early voting was most prevalent in the West, a region that includes the only three states (Colorado, Oregon and Washington) that conduct all of their elections by mail. About half (51%) of western voters reported casting their ballots early, compared with 33% of southern voters and just 19% of voters in the Midwest and 8% in the Northeast. [Q.8]

How long if at all did voters wait? Lines were a big concern in 2012, but apparently not in 2014 –

Among those who voted in person (either early or on Election Day), most (77%) did not have to wait to cast their ballot. Just 23% of in-person voters waited in line, with just 3% saying they waited 30 minutes or more to vote. [Q.10]

Were voters confident in the outcome? Not surprisingly, respondents whose preferred candidates did well were more confident in the outcome; in addition, people seem to have more confidence in local election outcomes than they do nationally (a variant on “love your Member, hate Congress” phenomenon?)

As in past elections, most voters have a great deal of confidence that their own vote was counted accurately this year, but they are less confident that votes nationwide were counted accurately.

Nearly seven-in-ten voters (68%) say they are very confident that their vote was counted accurately, while just 35% say the same about votes across the country. Nonetheless, most voters are at least somewhat confident about the vote count nationally: 77% say they are very or somewhat confident votes across the country were counted accurately while 20% are not too confident or not at all confident in the accuracy of the vote count.

Republican voters express more confidence in this year’s voting process than Democrats and independents: 43% of Republican voters say they are very confident votes across the country were accurately counted, compared with about three-in-ten Democratic (31%) and independent (32%) voters. GOP voters are also more likely to say they are confident their own votes were counted correctly. [By comparison, Democrats were more confident in 2012 by a margin of 73%-69%. Q.36,37]

This is a very helpful snapshot of the voting experience – one which provides a nice backdrop to the ongoing discussions about election policy across the nation. Thanks to Pew for its continued work in this field!

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