For Republican Primary Voters, What Are the Hot Button Issues in 2016?
This is the first post in a two-part blog series on the U.S. presidential primaries. This post explores the behaviors and attitudes of Republican voters. The next post will focus on Democrats in advance of the Florida Democratic primary.
In case you haven’t heard, today is Super Tuesday—the biggest single day for U.S. presidential candidates to pick up delegates, thanks to voting in over a dozen states.
This means that, at least for the next 24 hours, all eyes are on the 32 million households in the 14 states voting today.
We’ve used Neustar’s Market Analytics and Segmentation solution—and it’s robust dataset of over 15,000 consumer attributes—to investigate the demographics, behaviors, lifestyles, opinions, and attitudes of this important population of voters.
This post will look at a handful of hot button political issues—gun control, privacy, and the environment—for Republican voters, in particular. In the next post in this series, we’ll give a nod to Democrats with a deep-dive into the interests, behaviors, and media consumption habits of two key target groups: Latinos and African-Americans.
Before diving into the data, lets review how we got it.
First, we isolated Super Tuesday states, by party:
- 11 states will hold Democratic primaries (or caucuses): Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado caucuses, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota caucuses, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia.
- 14 states that will hold Republican primaries (or caucuses): All of the above, plus Alaska, North Dakota, and Wyoming.*
Then, we built five target groups:
- “Potential Republican Voters”: all people who likely could vote in a Republican primary. This group includes: (1) households that show a strong propensity to include registered Republicans, and (2) households that show a strong propensity to include registered Independents.*
- “Registered Republicans”: just households that show a strong propensity to include registered Republicans (and not a strong propensity to also include Independents)
- “Potential Democratic Voters”: all people who likely could vote in a Democratic primary. This group includes: (1) households that show a strong propensity to include registered Democrats, and (2) households that show a strong propensity to include registered Independents.*
- “Registered Democrats”: just households that show a strong propensity to include registered Democrats (and not a strong propensity to also include Independents).
- “Registered Independents”: just households that show a strong propensity to include registered Independents (and not a strong propensity to also include registered Republicans or Democrats).
We also analyzed a grouped audience describing “none of the above,” just to make sure we weren’t missing anything.
To better understand Registered Independents (I), we evaluated the correlations between various behaviors of Registered Republicans (R) and Registered Democrats (D). We found a 0.647 correlation** between the (R) and (I) behaviors, and a 0.714 correlation between the (D) and (I) behaviors. This allows us to infer that the demographic makeup of Registered Independents put them right between both parties (i.e., they look a bit like both of them).
Of note, we also evaluated the distribution of potential voters (and their interests) within each state, but at county and zip-code levels. It would have been more accurate to take a more geographically granular approach—such as examining congressional boundary, census tract and block group (which is possible with ElementOne). But to keep it simple here, we stick with county and zip code.
About the Super Tuesday States
Of the 32 million households in the Super Tuesday states, 16% include a registered Republican, 12% include a registered Independent, and 19.5% include a registered Democrat.
Texas is the biggest prize—and it’s shaping up as a key battleground for the Republican candidates.
Looking at the map of the party affiliations of Texas’ population below, we see that Registered Republicans are dispersed throughout the state. Registered Independents, however, are more sparsely distributed. Republican candidates hoping to sway these more moderate voters should focus on the areas with the highest penetration and relatively larger amounts of Independents: Collin, Denton and Tarrant Counties (Dallas-Ft. Worth), Fort Bend and Harris County (Houston) and Travis County (Austin). Together these counties represent an estimated 40% of all households in Texas who are registered as Independent.
Zooming in on the Dallas-Fort Worth metro (below), we see that the highest penetration of Registered Republicans reside in the outskirts, whereas Registered Independents are closer to the heart of the metro (nearer to Registered Democrats).
Georgia offers the second biggest number of Super Tuesday delegates (after Texas). Here again we see that Registered Republicans reside throughout the state, while the highest penetrations of both Registered Independents and Registered Democrats can be found almost exclusively in the metro Atlanta area.
A deep-dive into the metro Atlanta area reveals a similar pattern as in Dallas-Fort Worth: Registered Republicans reside in the suburbs, whereas Registered Independents and Registered Democrats live closer to the heart of the city.
Now let’s dig into the political behaviors, opinions, and interests of these voters.
Contributions and Political Involvement
Potential Republican Voters are 23% more likely to vote in the primaries, 34% more likely to make a political contribution, and 28% more likely to contribute to a conservative political group.
But Registered Republicans are much more politically active. They are 34%-43% more likely to vote in the primaries, and their rates of political contribution are 1.4x to 2.1x higher. They are also much more likely to make charitable contributions (46-51% higher than the U.S. average)—especially to conservative political groups (33-115% higher).
Republicans may have reason to expect a slightly higher voter turnout—and slightly more financial support—than Democrats. While Registered Republicans are 43% more likely than Independents to vote in previous primaries, Registered Democrats are only 22% more likely than Independents. And while Registered Republicans are 111% more likely than Independents to make political contributions, Registered Democrats are only 83% more likely than Independents.
And now on to the hot-button issues!...
Potential Republican Voters are 31% more likely to own guns than the average U.S. household.
Registered Republicans have an even higher rate of gun ownership, at 52-55% above the average. And Registered Independents come in at 51% below the U.S. average. Registered Democrats, on the other hand, are no more likely to own guns than the average U.S. household.
Unsurprisingly, Alaska is the Super Tuesday state with the highest penetration of gun owners—meaning that a higher percentage (7.9-8.9%) of Alaska residents are likely to own guns.
Conversely, and surprisingly (given how much state’s leadership loves the second amendment!), Texas has among the lowest penetration of gun owners.
Since the Republican presidential candidates all assert that it’s best to severely limit government regulation for environmental protection, one might assume that Republican voters don’t care about the environment. But that may not actually be the case. Potential Republican Voters are 31% more likely than the average U.S. household to have made a charitable donation supporting an environmental cause. And Registered Republicans are 39-94% more likely.
But giving and buying, it turns out, are two different beasts. This apparent environmental interest doesn’t necessarily translate to Republicans’ purchasing behavior. Registered Republicans are less likely to pay more for environmentally friendly products (whereas Registered Democrats say they might). And Registered Republicans say they’d still be less likely to purchase more environmentally friendly products... even if they were cheaper.
Interestingly, neither Registered Republicans nor Registered Democrats believe environmentally friendly products are of higher quality. (Though Registered Republicans are 35% less likely while Registered Democrats are near the average.) But Registered Independents do.
Despite the varying rhetoric from politicians in different parties, views on privacy are pretty consistent throughout the population and across party lines, at least when all potential voters (i.e., including Independents) are considered.
Neither Potential Republican Voters nor Potential Democratic Voters appear to be relieved by the prospect of federal regulation. Versus U.S. households on average, they are 17% less likely and 12% less likely, respectively, to trust the federal government to protect their privacy. Registered Democrats, on the other hand, are 9% more likely trust the feds to safeguard their personal privacy.
In summary, the party base—Registered Republicans—holds the strongest opinions on hot-button issues related to gun ownership, privacy, and even the environment. This group is also more likely to vote in the primaries, and more likely to make both political and charitable contributions.
Attempts to reach those less likely to vote—Independents—may require more targeted efforts. In many states, this means focusing on the major metros. However, in Texas (the state offering the most delegates) this may prove a bigger challenge, as the areas with higher penetrations of Registered Independents appear to be broadly distributed.
Check back soon to learn more about the Democrats’ challenges in reaching two key demographic groups: Latinos and African-Americans.
About Neustar’s Market Analytics and Segmentation
Neustar helps marketers identify their most valuable audiences with unparalleled precision, understand their current and potential customers, and ultimately sharpen their marketing strategies for improved ROI.
Using Neustar Market Analytics and Segmentation, marketers can layer any of their internal data against a robust dataset of over 15,000 consumer demographic, psychographic, and behavioral attributes to build an accurate 360-degree view of the market. Empowered by this knowledge, marketers can derive actionable, non-intuitive insights tailored to their unique business needs and beyond the grasp of their competitors.
*Note: There are significant variances in the voting process and policies of different states. Here are just a few caveats to consider:
- In Texas, you do not have to register your party affiliation, so when we say “Registered Republicans in Texas” we mean households that have a strong propensity to look like registered republicans.
- The Republican Party has opted not to vote at its Colorado caucus, allowing its 37 delegates to remain unpledged to a specific candidate.
- Oklahoma actually has a closed primary—meaning that you must be a registered member of the party to vote in it’s primary. Other Super Tuesday states (for example, Massachusetts) have hybrid primaries, and may allow Independents—but not registered Independents—to vote in it’s primary. However, this is just an illustrative exercise, so this nuance was effectively ignored. Oklahoma politicians: interpret at your own risk!