Elections, Politics, Spring 2016 Articles

Predicting November


PrimaryStudents waited in long lines on March 15th and boarded buses from campus to the polling station to cast their votes. How did the wolfpack vote?  Besides asking who students were supporting in the primaries, PackPoll also asked about four possible general election contests.

Trump vs. Clinton:

Clinton wins this potential match-up, preferred by 43% of respondents in comparison to 28% that chose Trump (30% said neither or unsure).  Partisans are not symmetrically supportive of their likely party’s nominee.  Not surprisingly, 55% of those identifying as Republican chose Trump, but 82% of Democrats supported Clinton.

Trump vs. Sanders:

When Trump is paired against Sanders, Trump loses again, though by a larger margin.  In this hypothetical matchup, 58% choose Sanders and 21% support Trump.  Trump,it appears, is on shaky ground within his own party, as only 48% of those identifying as Republican prefer Trump to an avowed socialist. Perhaps this is why several Republican elites have spoken out against the businessman.

Cruz vs. Clinton:

In this pairing, Cruz tops Clinton with 46% of the vote. Clinton takes 34%, while 20% said “neither” or “not sure.” Partisanship matters more here, too.  Unlike Trump, Cruz takes 88% of the Republican vote, suggesting normal solidarity patterns if he is the nominee.

Cruz vs. Sanders:

In this last possible pairing, Sanders performs much better against Cruz than Clinton, winning the support of 55% compared to 35% for Cruz. Although Cruz gets the support of 80% of Republicans, that’s not enough to overcome greater Democratic solidarity and majority support from Independents.

The Take-Away

These match ups suggest that while students support Sanders over either republican candidate, Cruz has the potential to close the gap a bit among State students if Donald Trump were to be out of the race. Trump does not seem to be winning favor in the student population. Bernie Sanders continues to be popular with young voters. According to a recent CNN poll, our results fall in line with national polling as Sanders captures a favorability rating of 60% among registered voters. Clinton and Trump continue to do poorly as front runners in regard to favorability among the majority of voters.  As Time Magazine has pointed out, Trump and Clinton both have a long way to go in winning over young voters in favor of Bernie Sanders.

NOTE ON METHDOLOGY: This “Big Poll” took place March 13-15, 2016. The survey was administered over the internet to a random sample of 4,500 NCSU undergraduates, generating a 20% response rate for completed surveys. Sampling error is +/-3.3% for completed interviews and questions asked of the full sample; it is higher for sub-groups and questions asked of only portions of the full sample.

In addition to sampling error, other forms of error occur in surveys, such as confusion about question wording or the order of questions, but these are not precisely quantifiable. We did not apply post-stratification sample weights to adjust for possible demographic imbalances in our sample (primarily by gender), but weighting would only have minor effects on the results we report here (our sample is 51% male when men are 56% of the NCSU undergraduate student body).

Click here to see a PDF file for the full set of results: Spring2016BigPollToplines

Feel free to email us if you have any questions.

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