LSU survey: Obama voters less engaged this year
By FERRIS MCDANIEL
LSU Manship News Service
BATON ROUGE — A survey conducted by the LSU Public Policy Research Lab shows that first-time voters who supported President Barack Obama in 2008 continue back him in the 2012 election but are less politically engaged this time.
“I personally wasn’t surprised,” said Michael Climek, LSU Public Policy Research Lab operations manager, “Because we also asked what their most important consideration is in 2012 and the most common answer was the economy. Ignoring politics and ignoring candidates, the sort of long-standing belief in politics was if unemployment has been over 8 percent for four years, the current administration is going to go. I’m not saying that’s going to happen. I’m just saying that’s why the data wasn’t super surprising.”
The national phone survey of 1,009 registered voters was taken in July. It carries a margin of error plus or minus 4.3 percentage points for first-time voters, and 4.4 percentage points for overall registered voters.
According to the survey, about 76 percent of first-time voters who voted for Obama in 2008 are still satisfied with his performance as president in 2012, and 90 percent of them, which includes those learning toward Obama, would re-elect him.
While 76.1 percent of Obama first-time 2008 voters are satisfied with the president, 82.2 percent of veteran voters who cast a ballot for Obama in the last election are satisfied. Additionally, 94.7 percent of non-first-time Obama voters will choose Obama in the 2012 election.
Slightly more than half of first-time Obama voters said the President “cares about people like me,” compared to 63.6 percent of other supporters of Obama, according to the report.
Responses to a request to describe the president were divided along partisan lines and split between 224 positive and 283 negative assessments. The most common negative word was “disappointment,” while the most common positive word offered was “excellent,” said Climek.
Though voters are most concerned about the economy, they do not see it as Obama’s most important contribution to date. The survey found respondents overwhelmingly chose the killing of Osama Bin Laden and health care reform as the president’s single most important contribution.
Non-first-time voters were almost twice as likely to select “nothing” as Obama’s most important accomplishment.
The results reveal that 2008 first-time voters are less engaged than other voters in the upcoming election. While 93.3 percent of non-first-time voters said they would vote in the upcoming election. That fell to 82.2 percent of 2008 first-time voters said they would.
The survey also found that 2008 first-time voters were less interested in the election campaign (26.1 percent compared to 17.9 percent of veteran voters), paying less attention to the campaign (20.5 percent compared to 9.8 percent), and caring less than in 2008 (20.5 percent compared to 9.8 percent).
Climek said nothing in the results showed any indication as to why the 2008 first-time voters are less engaged in the 2012 election, but someone pitched the idea to him that “maybe as people age, their politics change.” Climek, however, doesn’t think that is the case because only 45 percent of first-time voters were between the ages of 18 to 24.
Other survey data showed Obama first-time voters being less likely to say they will definitely vote (82.6 percent compared to 94 percent for non-first-time voters) and are paying less attention than in 2008 (36.6 percent compared to 29.8 percent). That said, Obama’s 2008 first-time voters say they are more hopeful about the 2012 election than other Obama supporters.
The survey results also show the economy driving considerations for all voters and first-time voters. Among all voters, 33.9 percent said the economy was their most important consideration in choosing a candidate, which compares to 28.5 percent of first time voters.
The survey found 2008 first-time voters were more negative about Obama’s economic record than other Obama supporters.