By on January 28, 2019 in Featured News, News

Ripon Society Releases Results of its 4th Annual Survey of the American Voter

WASHINGTON, DC – The Ripon Society today released the results of its 4th Annual Survey of the American Voter. This year’s survey delved into the most prominent issues affecting Americans today, such as:

  • Direction of the Country – the poll found that 62% of voters believe the country is on the wrong track, and 65% of those surveyed believe that, regarding the problems facing them today, the federal government is part of the problem.
  • Infrastructure – low favorability among options to raise revenue for infrastructure via an increased gas tax (30%), more toll roads (42%), and a fee based on miles driven (21%).
  • Health Care Reform – 70% oppose keeping the current status quo and 58% would like to see a bipartisan improvements made to Obamacare.
  • Immigration – found to be the most important issue for Americans this year, an overwhelming majority of voters (82%) are in favor of increasing security on the border through additional technology and personnel.
  • Trade/International Relations – 53% said that the trade dispute with China has had either no impact or a positive impact on their personal financial situation, and 67% believe that America is best when it works closely with its allies.

To read the analysis of the survey, please click here.  To view the accompanying presentation slides, please click here.

The survey was conducted from January 14th through January 17th and follows-up on the nationwide poll conducted for The Ripon Society one year ago. The Tarrance Group, led by veteran GOP strategists Ed Goeas and Brian Nienaber, conducted the poll and explain in their memo the significance of the findings. The findings, as Goeas and Nienaber explain, indicate the environment is favorable for Republicans to lead by communicating a message focused on commonsense solutions to the country’s most salient issues.

In their memo, they begin by providing background for the rest of the results by explaining voters’ dissatisfaction with the current political environment.

“Voters are frustrated with the current political environment. A strong majority of voters (62%) believe that the country is on the wrong track, including a majority of voters (54%) who strongly believe this.  In contrast, under one-third (31%) of voters think the country is headed in the right direction. Majorities of Democrats (89%), Independents (72%), and even 29% of Republicans and 24% of Trump voters think the country is on the wrong track. Despite these negative sentiments, direction of the country has been upside down for close to a decade and has been as high as 4% on the Real Clear Politics average as recently as September 2017.”

With this in mind, the survey also asked voters what issues they wanted to see addressed in the upcoming year. The findings here are consistent with what came to be the defining issues of the 2018 mid-term election.

“The top issues that voters want Congress and President to work on are immigration, health care, the economy/jobs, and the federal budget/debt. There is a stark political divide on prioritizing these issues. A majority of Republicans (58%) select illegal immigration as their top issue. For health care, more than three-in-ten Democrats (31%) select this as their top issue. Independents divide on their top issue of concern with health care (21%), the federal budget/debt (19%), economy/jobs (16%), and immigration (16%) all being selected at a notable rate.

“[This partisan divide is] a troubling sign for getting things done in Congress this year. Republicans want action on immigration. Democrats want action on health care, and Independents want action on a variety of issues. This presents a real challenge for setting legislative priorities for action.”

Infrastructure is one area that many elected officials and pundits point to as having the greatest potential for bipartisan cooperation during the current period of divided government. The need for improved infrastructure was explained to voters, and they were asked whether they support the implementation three different strategies to raise money:  increasing the gas tax, building more toll roads, or charging a user fee based on the amount of miles a vehicle travels.

“All of these proposals face majority opposition with the electorate,” Goeas and Nienaber explain. “Finding more federal funding for infrastructure will require other funding mechanisms or a substantial amount of voter persuasion.”

Regarding Obamacare and health care reform, voters are far from content with the current system and show a sizable interest in reevaluating current law.

“Asked for their view of the health care system since Obamacare took effect, a plurality (40%) of voters think the health care system has gotten worse. Among other voters, 31% think health care has gotten better, and 26% think health care has stayed about the same. A majority (67%) of low-income voters think health care has gotten worse (34%) or stayed the same (33%). These are the voters who should have seen the most benefits from Obamacare.

“In contrast, a majority (52%) of voters working for small businesses think health care has gotten worse. These are the voters most likely to have had bad outcomes from Obamacare.

“This situation – beneficiaries being ambivalent to negative on the laws impact and many others think the law has made things worse – should provide an opening for making reforms to the Obamacare law.”

In the national survey four options were given to the public to assess their favorability: keeping Obamacare in place but making some bipartisan improvements, replacing Obamacare with a new free market based system, replacing Obamacare with a “Medicare for All” system, and keeping Obamacare as is with no changes.

“Making bipartisan improvements is the only proposal with majority support. Both parties in Congress would do well to find ways to work together to improve Obamacare if it wants to reform this law. However, even this modest and vague proposal has strong majority opposition among Republicans (69%). Any efforts at reform will need to also include significant outreach to Republican voters on the merits of this reform.”

In recent weeks, the topic of immigration has been front and center in the national political dialogue, particularly with it being the epicenter of the record-breaking 35-day government shutdown. Voters were presented three proposals for immigration reform: increased use of technology and personnel on the border, providing permanent legal status to illegal immigrants who were brought here as minors, and building a wall on the southern border with Mexico.

“A deal on immigration reform that incorporated increased border security with providing legal status for Dreamers would have the support of the majority of the electorate. Building the wall has turned into political divisive issue. Fully 88% of Republicans and 93% of partisan Republicans support building the wall while strong majorities of both Independents (68%) and Democrats (92%) oppose building it.

“Despite these differences, there is broad agreement (66%) among voters that immigration has made the United States stronger. Even 45% of partisan Republicans agree with this assertion.”

Finally, the issue of trade and international relations was presented to voters. More specifically, the survey asked the public their thoughts on the recent trade dispute with China.

“Voters were read a brief description of the trade dispute with China, including the use of tariffs by both countries.  Voters were then asked to gauge the impact of these tariffs on their personal economic situation. Forty-two percent (42%) of voters believe this trade dispute is going to have a negative impact on their personal finances. However, a majority of voters (53%) think this trade dispute will have no impact (36%) or a positive impact (17%) on their personal finances.

“These views are driven by partisanship.  Majorities of Independents (52%) and Democrats (61%) think this trade dispute will have a negative impact on their finances while just 18% of Republicans share this view. This trade dispute is a political issue and not yet an economic one.”

“In what looks to be a challenging year for conservatives with a political environment trending against them, there are fruitful areas for conservative advocacy. Voters agree that the federal government is part of the problem and want politicians willing to take bold actions.”

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.

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