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Pulse On The Polls: Looking at Voter Sentiment Surrounding the Pending Presidential Election
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Pulse On The Polls: Looking at Voter Sentiment Surrounding the Pending Presidential Election

With the U.S. presidential election just around the corner, the political rhetoric is at fever pitch levels on both sides of the aisle.

But what do consumers think about their involvement in the U.S. political system? To find out, Harris Poll conducted a survey for Nielsen that focused on consumer sentiment regarding the voting process itself—from the likelihood of voting to the trust they have in both the current machines and potential emerging technology as well—and found that region, political philosophy and race/ethnicity all come into play.

Stepping Out: The Voter Intent of This Year’s Ballot Casters

The study, which was conducted online in July 2016 among a nationally representative sample of 2,463 U.S. adults ages 18+, found that 86% of all Americans say they will definitely or probably vote in this year’s election (“likely voters”), including 94% of those who are already registered to vote and 24% of those who were not registered to vote at the time of the survey.

Among likely voters (i.e., those who say they will probably or definitely vote, regardless of their voter registration status at the time of the survey), 87% of men and 84% of women said they will definitely or probably vote in this year’s election, though men are more likely than women to say they will definitely vote (79% vs. 71%, respectively). Perhaps not surprisingly, adults ages 65 and older are more likely to say they will vote than younger voters.

But how do voters’ views and political leanings sway their intent to hit the polls?

The study found that 90% of Americans who described their political leanings as “liberal” said they will probably or definitely vote, while 87% of “conservative” leaning adults and 83% of “moderate” adults said they plan to vote.

Among the different race/ethnic groups, 77% of white adults said they definitely plan on voting in next month’s election—compared to 73% of black adults, 69% of Hispanic adults and 63% of Asian-American adults.

Additionally, nearly half (46%) of all Americans said they would be more likely to vote if it was easier to get to their voting center and about the same proportion (45%) said they wish they could vote closer to home. And likely voters who live six or more miles away from their voting center were actually more likely to be satisfied with the choices available to them for president versus likely voters who lived five miles or less from their polling center (58% vs. 40%, respectively).

Cast Away: The Ways Consumers Prefer to Vote

But the survey didn’t just look at whether Americans were planning to punch their respective tickets. It also looked at how they would prefer to have their voice heard, looking at attitudes toward traditional ways to vote as well as how technological advances in regard to voting might play in the future.

In fact, 57% of likely voters agreed that they would feel comfortable voting online, and 60% said they would be more likely to vote if they could do so from home.

When asked about their “preferred” method of voting, 42% of likely voters noted they lean toward in-person electronic voting, 24% said they prefer in-person paper ballots, 16% said they would like remote online voting from either work or home and 17% said they would rather mail-in a paper ballot.

The survey looked deeper at the potential online voting might have with voters, taking a close look at political leanings, age, race and the distance from the voting centers.

For instance, comfort with voting online follows a definite demographic trend, with 66% of likely voters aged 18-34 agreeing that they would be comfortable voting online. However, this percentage ebbs away as age increases—only 40% of likely voters 65 and older said they feel comfortable voting online.

With rapid technological advancements, knowing how voters feel about not only who they vote for, but how they feel comfortable voting, is crucial toward making every voter—and vote—count.