QUALITY OF LIFE CONCERNS DRIVE VOTING PATTERNS
Female suburban voters will switch their electoral preferences quickly “if convinced that policy positions of one set of political actors will directly impact the quality of life of their community,” according to the results of a new Market Research Foundation (MRF) study in Colorado.
The study – which examined the attitudes of “female voters in suburban or exburb communities” – focused on a proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Under the rule, the federal government would be granted broad new authority to change local zoning laws in an effort to remedy what it believes to be uneven housing patterns. Specifically, the rule would result in the placement of “high-density, low-income housing in many of America’s suburban communities.”
The GOP-controlled U.S. House blocked funding for the enforcement of this rule – however the U.S. Senate refused to follow suit.
In conjunction with a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization, MRF conducted research in Colorado in an effort to determine how issues like this impacted female suburban and exurb voters. According to the results, support for the HUD rule among this target demographic was never above 50 percent – but fell through the floor when female voters were confronted with its potential impact on the community. In fact the drop-off was “even more dramatic when the voters are asked how they would like their Senator to vote on the rule.”
How dramatic? The test group saw those who supported their Senator’s decision to back the move cut in half – from 43 percent to 21 percent – over a two-month period. The control group, by contrast, saw a much smaller decline in support – from 46 to 38 percent.
Did these preferences translate into votes? Colorado has yet to release detailed reporting from the November 4 election (meaning follow-up polling will be necessary to conclusively document the theory), but the MRF survey found a huge shift in voter preference from August to October – including a much more pronounced shift in the test group.
The key takeaway?
“A focus on quality of life, community and personal economic security are far more important to voters than the contrived issues,” the report’s authors noted, adding that “voters can be moved on the basis of a presentation of the facts in a direct manner than circumvents the media.”
“Voters increasingly make their decisions on such independent information,” they added.
To view the report in its entirety, click on the link below.