Issues Dominate Voters' Reasons for Choosing Presidential Candidates

by David W. Moore

Different issues important to Gore and Bush voters

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- According to a recent Gallup poll, conducted August 24-27, voters are choosing either Al Gore or George W. Bush for president mostly because of various issues the two candidates are addressing. Voters are less likely now than they were last spring to say they are voting for a candidate because he is of their own party, and they are more likely to say that their vote is motivated either because they generally favor the policies/platform of their selected candidate, or because they favor his position on specific types of issues.

The types of issues mentioned by each group of supporters, however, are quite varied -- Gore's supporters are more likely to mention economic, environmental, health, and welfare issues, and Bush's supporters more likely to mention tax, defense, gun, and size-of-government issues. In addition, about a third of Bush's supporters (32%) continue to mention some negative aspect about Gore as a reason for their choice, while only 14% of Gore's supporters classify their vote as a choice specificallyagainstBush. And, while few of Gore's supporters mention morals or ethics as a reason for their vote choice, almost one in five of Bush's supporters say these considerations are important in their vote decision.

Nearly Half of Each Candidate's Supporters Mention Issues as Reason to Vote for Candidate
The poll asked respondents to explain in an open-ended format why they expect to vote for either Gore or Bush for president. Fifty-one percent of Gore's supporters and 48% of Bush's supporters mentioned some type of issue area, including 17%-18% of each group who indicated their general support of the policies/platform of their candidate. Last spring, in a poll conducted March 30-April 2, a similar question showed that only 6%-10% mentioned the policies/platform of their candidate.

The candidates' supporters often reflect the themes of the candidates' respective campaigns when mentioning reasons for voting for their preferred candidate. For example, Gore's supporters are much more likely to mention economic issues (11%) than are Bush's supporters (1%), and are also much more likely to volunteer that their candidate cares about the "average" American (the middle class, the old, the poor, or the average person) than are Bush's supporters -- by a margin of 17% to 1%. Gore's supporters also mention social issues such as health, welfare, Medicare, and the environment more often than do Bush's supporters, by 13% to 5%.

Bush's supporters, on the other hand, are more likely than Gore's supporters to mention such issues as taxes, defense, and less government, by 14% to 3%. In addition, Bush's supporters seem much more concerned about the personal integrity and morals of their candidate than are Gore's supporters, by a margin of 19% to 5%.

For both groups of supporters, the party affiliation of their candidate is now cited less frequently as a reason for their choice than it was last spring. Now, just 7% of Bush's supporters and 13% of Gore's supporters say they are voting "party lines." Last March-April, 17% of Bush's supporters and 25% of Gore's supporters offered that reason for their vote choice. The change may reflect the fact that voters today know much more about the candidates' specific policies and issues than they did in March, when they may not have known much more than the candidates' party affiliation.

Survey Methods

The current results reported here are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,019 adults, 18 years and older, conducted August 24-27, 2000.

Results based on likely voters are based on the sub-sample of -- 664 -- survey respondents deemed most likely to vote in the November 2000 General Election, according to a series of questions measuring current voting intentions and past voting behavior. For results based on the total sample of Likely Voters, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points.

Gallup's current likely voter estimation for 2000 assumes that 50% of the voting age population (VAP) will turn out to vote. (In 1996, turnout among the VAP was 49%. The average turnout rate in all presidential elections since 1980 is approximately 52%.)

What would you say are the most important one or two reasons why you would be more likely to vote for [INSERT RESPONSE FROM Q. 2/2A: Al Gore/George W. Bush]? and not for [INSERT OTHER CANDIDATE: George W. Bush/Al Gore]?

Vote for Gore and Not Bush (Total Mentions)

 

 

Likely Voters

Aug 24-27, 2000

Likely Voters

Mar 30-Apr 2, 2000

     

Favor his agenda/ideas/platform/policies/philosophy

17

6

Cares about the poor/old/middle class/average person

17

6

Vote along party lines

13

25

Economic issues

11

5

Experience

6

11

Education issues

6

6

Better qualified for the job/better candidate

5

4

Environmental issues

5

5

Abortion issues

5

2

Don't like him/don't like the other

4

11

Don't favor other's agenda/ideas/platform/policies

4

4

Trustworthy/honest/integrity

4

4

Social issues and welfare

4

2

I like him

3

4

Medicare and Medicaid issues

3

1

It's a vote against the other

3

*

Not familiar enough with the other

2

0

Lack of trust/dishonest/lack of integrity for the other

2

3

Healthcare issues

2

2

Tax issues

2

1

Good morals/ethics/values

2

1

Budget issues

2

--

Doing a good job/satisfied with job performance

1

5

Conservative policies

1

2

Foreign policy issues

1

2

Liberal policies

1

2

Care only about the rich/big business

1

1

Association with Clinton

1

0

Gun control issues

1

*

Like choice of running mate

1

--

Leadership qualities

2

*

Dad was a previous president

*

2

Other/hasn't done his job/dissatisfied with job performance

--

2

Defense/Military issues

--

0

Want a Republican/Democratic president and a Republican/Democratic Congress

--

*

Age

*

*

Other

7

15

No opinion

3

3

Nothing in particular

1

1

Everything

--

*



Vote for Bush and Not Gore (Total Mentions)

 

 

Likely Voters

Aug 24-27, 2000

Likely Voters

Mar 30-Apr 2, 2000

     

Favor his agenda/ideas/platform/policies/philosophy

18

10

Other's association with Clinton

12

4

Trustworthy/honest/integrity

10

7

Good morals/good ethics/values

8

3

Vote along party lines

7

17

Tax issues

7

5

Abortion issues

6

4

Education issues

5

5

Don't like him/don't like the other

5

12

Lack of trust/dishonest/lack of integrity

5

5

Dad was a previous president

5

2

It's a vote against the other

5

1

I like him

5

2

Defense/Military issues

4

0

Conservative polices

4

8

Want a change

4

5

Liberal policies

4

1

Want less government/reduce government

4

1

Better qualified for the job/better candidate

3

7

Don't favor other's agenda/ideas/platform

3

4

Social welfare issues

3

1

Gun control issues

3

1

Too liberal

2

*

Environmental issues

2

3

Economic issues

1

2

Leadership qualities

1

*

Military experience

1

*

Credible/reliable/keeps promises

1

0

Like choice of running mate

1

--

Experience

1

1

Cares about the poor/old/middle class/average person

1

2

Foreign policy issues

*

1

Doing a good job/satisfied with job performance

*

3

Other hasn't done a good job/dissatisfied with job performance

*

4

Not familiar enough with the other

--

1

Family issues

--

*

Want a Republican/Democratic president and a Republican/Democratic Congress

--

1

     
     

Other

5

13

No opinion

1

3

Nothing in particular

1

2

Everything

*

0



*Less than 0.5%

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