Tag Archives: Ted Cruz

Inside The Disenfranchised Conservative Electorate

INSIGHTS FROM EARLY-VOTING SOUTH CAROLINA

It’s no secret conservative voters have felt disenfranchised in recent election cycles – especially in dark red states like South Carolina.  Previous surveys conducted for Market Research Foundation (MRF) in the Palmetto State have shown the strain this disenfranchisement has had on party loyalty – while national polling has highlighted the need to appeal to voters on ideological as opposed to partisan grounds.

But is something more fundamental undercutting these established perceptions?

As the 2016 cycle ramps up, there is a major push underway across the country to identify disenfranchised voters, assess their motivations (or lack thereof) and determine which candidates might be able to get them to the polls (using what combination of messages).  Numerous presidential campaigns are vying for these voters all over the country – nowhere more fiercely than in early-voting South Carolina, which has successfully predicted the eventual Republican nominee in all but one of the last seven contested GOP primary elections.

According to a new Palmetto State survey conducted for MRF by Norman Analytics and Research, disenfranchised conservative “leaners” are actively eschewing the pervasive national political correctness and gravitating toward unvarnished candidates who are using non-traditional, “politically incorrect’ conservative messaging.

The survey focused on two niche audiences.  The first audience included voters who were modeled to be Republicans yet didn’t vote in either the 2008 or 2012 presidential primary race.  These GOP non-voters were filtered according to their general election history – with pollsters taking the top half of those deemed most likely to vote in 2016 and including them in the survey’s “high propensity” universe.

Obviously this universe is solid gold real estate in the upcoming “First in the South” presidential primary election – scheduled for February 20.

The second audience consisted of voters who cast ballots in either the 2008 or 2012 GOP presidential primary (but not both).  This group of past primary voters wasn’t modeled by party affiliation – but was filtered by general election history and reduced to a group deemed less likely to vote in 2016.

Not surprisingly, campaigns best able to target the first universe – while identifying common themes running across both universes – stand the best chance of not only winning this important primary bellwether, but also of turning out similarly modeled voters in crucial swing states in the 2016 general election.

Who is currently doing both of those jobs better than any other GOP candidate?  Donald Trump.

Trump is backed by 34 percent of likely Palmetto State GOP primary voters in these two groups – positioning him well ahead of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (13 percent), retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (12 percent), former Florida governor Jeb Bush (10 percent) and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (6 percent).  Including unlikely voters among these demographics, Trump is backed by 20 percent – putting him ahead of Carson (13 percent), Bush and Rubio (9 percent each) and Cruz (7 percent).

“Among both segments identified for this research, Trump is the clear GOP presidential primary frontrunner,” researcher Erin Norman said.  “His support intensifies when the audience is narrowed to likely primary voters and those who say they intensely support their chosen candidate.”

Driving Trump’s support is a strongly held belief that he is willing to speak truths avoided by other politicians.  In fact this perception of Trump cuts across the support of other top GOP candidates – with 62 percent of Marco Rubio supporters and 55 percent of Ben Carson supporters saying they believe Trump is “willing to speak the truth other politicians avoid.”  Only a majority of Jeb Bush supporters feel differently – with 60 percent of them describing Trump as a “loose cannon and not a serious contender.”

Among all respondents, sixty percent of men – and 72 percent of white men with no college degree – embraced Trump as “willing to speak the truth” compared to just 36 percent and 21 percent, respectively, who described him as a “loose cannon.”

Is this perception likely to move voters to the polls, though?  In a word, “yes.”

Telling the truth was the top turnout driver of this universe of South Carolina voters, garnering 73 percent of all mentions and 38 percent of top mentions when voters were asked what was “most likely” to make them “go out on Election Day and support a candidate.”  Next up was foreign affairs (58 percent and 19 percent, respectively) and immigration (47 percent and 10 percent, respectively).

“Having candidates who are willing to speaking in a direct, forthright manner is the best way to drive turnout at the polls,” Norman concluded.  “Sharing views with candidates on foreign policy is also important – and sharing views on immigration is especially important to Trump supporters.”

But voters’ affinity for a candidate who will shoot straight to them cuts across campaign lines.  Big majorities of Rubio supporters (79 percent) and Carson supporters (78 percent) in South Carolina also mentioned truth-telling most frequently when they were asked what would get them to the polls – with 39 percent of Carson backers and 29 percent of Rubio backers listing it as their top mention.

That’s worth watching over the next few weeks as the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary could conceivably further winnow the presidential field heading into South Carolina.   It’s also worth watching as campaigns look to the general election and targeting both of these universes in swing states.

Norman Analytics and Research surveyed 400 registered voters in South Carolina via telephone using live operators from December 4-7.  The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

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MRF Featured In George Will Column

NATIONALLY SYNDICATED COLUMNIST HIGHLIGHTS OUR RESEARCH

Market Research Foundation (MRF) has received a nod from nationally syndicated columnist George Will.  In assessing the 2016 presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, the Pulitzer Prize winner referenced our work in discussing Cruz’s efforts to “substantially reconfigure the electorate.”

“Cruz’s plan for winning the necessary 1,236 convention delegates is an extrapolation from his strategy for winning 270 electoral votes,” Will wrote in his latest column.

Part of Cruz’s reconfiguring and extrapolating?  Targeting nonvoting whites – especially those without college experience.  These are the Americans who sat on their hands in 2012, thus denying Mitt Romney the presidency.  They are also the ones warming to the ascendency of current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, who is credited by Will with “energizing people whose alienation from politics has made them nonvoters.”

Should he become the GOP nominee, can Cruz successfully identify and turn out these alienated voters?  Or as Will puts it, can he “leaven the electorate with people who, disappointed by economic stagnation and discouraging cultural trends for which Republican nominees seemed to have no answers, have been dormant during recent cycles.”

That’s a good question – although as we have repeatedly noted, much fertile ground is to be gained via precisely such a strategy.

Citing MRF’s research, Will notes “whites without college experience include disproportionate numbers of nonvoters.”  He then delves into efforts by Cruz’s data scientists to locate these voters and prepare “a package of three- or four-issue appeals” aimed at moving them from dormant to the polls.

It’s a fascinating column highlighting the nuts and bolts of a modern turnout operation – not to mention a broader ideological evolution that deserves heightened scrutiny as the 2016 primary is now in full swing.

To read Will’s column in its entirety, click here …

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Nevada: The (Latino) Bellwether

COULD THE NATIONAL ELECTION HINGE ON WESTERN BATTLEGROUND’S HISPANIC VOTE?

Since joining the union on October 31, 1864, libertarian-leaning Nevada has picked the president in 31 of 38 national elections – prompting University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) professor David Damore to refer to it as “the original swing state.”

Nevada and its six electoral votes are in play again in the 2016 election – and could be decisive in a close contest.  With its surging Hispanic population, Nevada has become a force to be reckoned with at the national level.

“The Silver State” has maintained its swing status despite dramatic demographic shifts.

Twenty years ago, nine out of ten Nevada voters was white.  In the coming election, one in five is expected to be Hispanic.  Latino turnout in Nevada is likely to be especially high during the 2016 cycle because in addition to a competitive national election – there are Hispanic candidates on both U.S. Senate (Catherine Cortez Masto) and U.S. congressional ballots.

The opportunity to make inroads isn’t lost on top tier candidates.

Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, for example, has hired Emmy Ruiz and Jorge Neri – two operatives who helped Barack Obama score a whopping 70 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012.

Meanwhile GOP candidates like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have been aggressively touting their Latino credentials.  Bush, for example, received the support of 61 percent of Latino voters during his 1998 gubernatorial race in Florida while Rubio won 55 percent of the state’s Hispanic vote in a three-way race in 2010.

Of course Bush and Rubio enjoyed success with Latino electorates that were disproportionately Cuban. Nationally, there are only an estimated 2 million Cuban-Americans – whereas there are more than 31 million Mexican-Americans.

And more than half of the United States’ Cuban-American population resides in Florida.

In other words Bush, Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz – a Cuban-American who got roughly 35 percent of the Lone Star State’s Hispanic vote in 2012 – must craft their outreach plans to account for a diverse Latino electorate.

According to 2010 data, two-thirds of Nevada’s Hispanic population had Mexican roots, while seven percent hailed from Central America and six percent came from the Caribbean.  Another 16 percent did not specify their Latino roots.

Can the GOP find a way to connect with this traditionally Democratic voting bloc?  Can its candidates capitalize on the 200,000 voting age Hispanics in Nevada who are currently not registered to vote?

Depending on how tight the national election is, their success or failure in doing so could conceivably decide which party wins the White House.

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