A new Pew poll dropped on Friday and told us what we already know about this election cycle: American voters are ready for something different.
We could have told you that months ago, citing the popularity of candidates like Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina as a prime example of been-there-done-that fatigue. The latest polling data (1,502 adults were surveyed, including 1,136 registered voters) serves to validate those candidates’ rising stars
More from Pew:
Since March, the share of all registered voters who say it is more important for a presidential candidate to have “new ideas and a different approach” has surged – with virtually all of the increase coming among Republican and Republican-leaning voters. Today, by more than two-to-one (65% to 29%), Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say it is more important that a candidate have new ideas than “experience and a proven record.” Just five months ago, GOP voters valued experience and a proven record over new ideas, 57% to 36%.
Opinion among Democratic voters continues to be more evenly divided: 50% say it is more important for a candidate to have experience and a proven record, while 42% view new ideas and a different approach as more important. This is little changed from March (46% experience, 49% new ideas).
Voters may want “new ideas,” but the want their eventual nominee to apply those ideas to the same issues that have dominated the past few election cycles. According to Pew, voters want to hear more about the economy, health care, and terrorism, and less about issues like the environment and abortion:
Keep in mind that Pew didn’t survey GOP primary voters or grassroots activists—just registered voters. There’s a big difference between these two groups of voters, and it’s important to remember that as you see campaigns deploy various narratives and messaging strategies. Abortion and immigration, for example, are important issues, but they don’t dominate with the electorate at large. (Case in point: even among GOP primary voters, polls show that group is divided 43% more likely/29% less likely to vote for a candidate who pledges to deport all illegal immigrants.)
Speaking of candidates: the field may be divided, and fiercely contested, but overall, GOP voters are more satisfied and more engaged with this slate than they have been with at least the previous two crops of presidential candidates.
The survey finds that Republican voters continue to give their field of presidential candidates higher ratings than at comparable points during the last two presidential campaigns. Meanwhile, Democratic voters are less positive about their party’s field than at about the same point in 2007, the last election in which the party had a contested nomination.
Nearly six-in-ten (59%) Republican and Republican leaning voters say they have an excellent or good impression of their party’s presidential candidates, which is little changed from May of this year (57%). In August 2011, 49% of Republican voters viewed the GOP presidential field positively; in October 2007, 50% had a favorable impression of the candidates as a group.
Moral of the story? Voters are paying attention, and they’re probably paying more attention than we originally thought.
Pew also discovered that Republicans are divided over Planned Parenthood funding, Democrats are divided over the Iran deal, and the majority of members of both parties prioritize supporting the candidate who most closely aligns with their views.
Here’s the state of the field:
Overall, voters want a candidate they can share opinions with; “electability” isn’t a major concern:
Few Republican and Democratic registered voters say a candidates’ electability is more important than shared issue positions in deciding who to support in next year’s primary elections and caucuses.
About two thirds of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (67%) and a similar share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (65%) say it is more important that a primary candidate share their positions on the issues than be able to beat the other party’s nominee. This is similar to opinion in the fall of 2007, when most potential voters in both parties had a similar desire to support the candidate who shared their issue positions in the 2008 primaries.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
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