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Key Findings

About the Poll

The poll surveyed 1,947 Americans who cast ballots in 2008, with special samples drawn of black voters, low-income voters, and voters under the age of 30. This allowed Project Vote to make reliable comparisons among these three groups, self-identified Tea Party sympathizers, and a representative sample of the 2008 electorate. 

The poll was written and analyzed by Dr. Lorraine Minnite, Project Vote Researcher Director and associate professor of Political Science at Barnard College, and conducted by Discovery Research Group between July 7, 2010 and August 11, 2010. Dr. Minnite holds a Ph.D. in political science and is a scholar of voting trends, social change, and institutional reform.

About the 2008 Electorate

High participation rates by historically disadvantaged groups and youth made the 2008 election the most diverse in our nation’s history.

  • Nonwhite groups increased their share of the 2008 electorate by nearly 3 percentage points from 2004, 19% to 21%.
  • African-American turnout nearly equaled white turnout, 65% to 66%, with African-American women voting at the highest rate of all voter groups.
  • There were 2.3 million more “youth” in 2008 compared to 2004.
  • Very low-income voters surged, making up 34% of all new voters in 2008, compared to 18% in 2004.

Views of Black Voters, Low-Income Voters, and Youth Voters

Black voters, low-income voters, and young voters share a common expectation that government should provide for the needs of all Americans rather than limit its activities to national security and police protection. This value translates into support for increased spending on infrastructure and public education and maintaining or increasing spending on income security programs such as Food Stamps.

  • Black voters, low-income voters, and young voters together make up 32% of the electorate. (Tea Party sympathizers make up 29% of the electorate, and all other voters make 39% of the electorate.)
  • Strong majorities of black voters (71%), young voters (59%), and low-income voters (60.5%) agree that government should work to provide for the needs of all citizens. Fifty percent of all voters agree with that sentiment. Only 20% of Tea Party sympathizers agree.
  • Strong majorities of black voters (71%), young voters (71%), and low-income voters (67%) support spending money on infrastructure, as do 68% of all 2008 voters.
  • Majorities of black voters (90%), young voters (84%), and low-income voters (71%) support increased spending on education, as do 65% of all voters, but only 40% of Tea Party sympathizers
  • Majorities of black voters (74%), young voters (68%), and low-income voters (75%), as well as a majority of all voters (58%), support spending the same or more on income support programs such as Food Stamps for less well-off Americans. Nearly two-thirds of Tea Party sympathizers (62%) support spending less.
  • Majorities of black voters, young income voters, and low-income voters, similar to a majority of all 2008 voters, support increasing taxes on investment income, increasing social security taxes on incomes greater than $107,000 and ending combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

How the Views of Black, Low-Income, and Youth Voters Compare with the National Sample

The values and policy preferences of these three voting constituencies are mostly aligned with a representative sample of all voters, but in many cases are more strongly held. For example:

  • Whereas 65% of all voters support spending more on public education, 90% of African-Americans, 84% of young Americans, and 71% of low-income voters support increased spending on public education. Forty-one percent of Tea Party sympathizers support more spending.
  • Whereas a majority of all voters (58%) support spending the same or more on income support programs such as Food Stamps for less well-off Americans, stronger majorities of black voters (74%), young voters (68%), and low-income voters (75%) support spending the same or more. Only 33% of Tea party sympathizers share that view.
  • Whereas 30% of all 2008 voters strongly favor ending combat operations on Iraq and Afghanistan to reduce the deficit, 44% of Black voters, 38% of young voters, and 39% of low-income voters strongly favor it. Only 17% of Tea Party sympathizers strongly agree.
About the Tea Party

Tea Party sympathizers are predominantly white, older, and affluent. Their views on the role of government and government spending are not only starkly different from black voters, young voters, and low-income voters, but from the majority view of a representative sample of all 2008 voters.

  • 76% of Tea Party sympathizes reported their personal financial situation as fairly good or very good; 76% are married; 78% went to college; 84% are working or retired; and 92% are White.
  • Less than 6% of Tea Party sympathizers reported having to worry about buying food for their families in the past year compared to 39% of low-income voters, 37% of black voters and 21% of young voters.


 Please see the full report and topline results for more information.

 

Voter Profiles

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