It’s time to move beyond just demographics.
A new study commissioned by Independent Women’s Voice reveals that it may be not surface-level stats that can predict voter behavior, but who they are. Their study found that voters’ exposure to facts about the economy can dramatically influence their political preferences.
The research, which was conducted in Colorado, first tested voters’ awareness of several basic economic facts. Then, after an education campaign exposed them to information about the economy over a 10-day period, they tested again. The results are fascinating.
First, voters who identified facts presented to them as true were more likely to support Romney; those who identified the facts as false were more likely to support Obama. While it could be that many of these voters view economic questions as solely the area of one political party already, it is clear that awareness of these facts correlates with support for one candidate.
Further, the information campaign conducted by IWV appears both to have been able to successfully educate voters on economic facts, but also to change preferences for candidates following the path established in their research. IWV’s vice president for policy Carrie Lukas writes at Forbes:
While voters were gaining an education on these core economic facts, voters’ preferences for candidates also shifted. Initially, Mitt Romney led President Obama among those surveyed by 2 percentage points. After IWF’s educational messaging, IWV found that Gov. Romney’s lead had increased by 8 percentage points among those who had received the educational information compared to a 2 point increase among the control group that had not.
Lukas concludes, “it turns out that what you know may be a better predictor than who you are when it comes to policy and political preferences.” As political research moves from the surface-level demographics to a more voter-centric model, methods that elicit deeper insights will continue to produce higher-quality, actionable insights.