52% Favor Populist Policies, 37% Prefer Traditional Politics

Given a choice between four presidential candidates with equal skills and temperament, 52% of voters would favor a candidate promoting populist policies such as those advocated by Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 37% would prefer more traditional establishment policies.

On a partisan basis, the results are nearly even: 45% want either Trump-like or traditional Republican policies while 44% prefer either Sanders-like or traditional Democratic policies. Overall, the results are very similar to the numbers found last October.

The totals include 30% who prefer policies like those of Trump and 15% who would rather see traditional Republican policies. On the other side of the aisle, 22% prefer policies like those offered by Sanders and 22% favor traditional Democratic policies.

Scott Rasmussen has been asking this question on a weekly basis. While the numbers periodically fluctuate, the dynamics are always the same. The partisan preference is split down the middle.

Within the parties, though, things appear to be much different. On the Republican side, the Trump like policies dominate. Typically, those supporting such policies outnumber those who would like more traditional policies by a 2 or 3 to 1 margin. On the Democratic side, the establishment and populist forces are virtually equal in number.

These results suggest potential for a significant shift in the partisan alignment over the coming years. What that alignment might be is unclear. For example, it’s easy to envision those who favor traditional Republican or traditional Democratic policies finding common ground. However, such an alliance in one party might push populists into the other party.

For now, these results provide a useful way to analyze the electorate.

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Note: Neither Scott Rasmussen, ScottRasmussen.com, nor RMG Research, Inc. have any affiliation with Rasmussen Reports. While Scott Rasmussen founded that firm, he left more than seven years ago and has had no involvement since that time.


The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from March 18-20, 2021. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online or via text while 201 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Online respondents were selected from a list of Registered Voters and through a process of Random Digital Engagement. Certain quotas were applied, and the sample was lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, education, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.



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