The Disconnect Between the Politically Obsessed and Most Americans

For many obsessed with politics, the upcoming midterm elections are perceived as a fight between good and evil that will determine the fate of the nation. In the narrative framed by true believers and much media coverage, it’s a fight between those who are convinced President Trump can make America great and those who dream of a socialist future.

Most Americans (54%) don’t fit into that narrative. Just 27% Strongly Disapprove of the president and  believe things would be better if Hillary Clinton had been elected. On the other side, 19% Strongly Approve of the president and believe things would be worse if Hillary Clinton was living in the White House today. The rest have more mixed views.

This eight-point advantage among committed voters is the reason that Democrats are expected to do well in the midterm elections this November. In the House of Representatives, likely outcomes range from Democrats falling just short of winning control to a Big Blue Wave earning a significant majority.

The final outcome may be determined by a group of voters that neither political team can begin to comprehend. Rather than seeing the 2016 election as a watershed event that changed the direction of the country, 26% of Registered Voters don’t believe life in America would be all that different if Hillary Clinton had won. With the election just a couple of months away, most of these voters aren’t committed to voting for either side in 2018.

Like most Americans, these voters overwhelmingly recognize that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have had a bigger impact on the world than presidents of the United States. Perhaps their ambivalence about who is president simply reflects confidence in the belief that culture and technology lead while politicians lag behind.

Or perhaps it’s just a lack of faith in the political process. Only about 11% of them trust the federal government to do the right thing most of the time. Seventy-two percent (72%) believe that government agencies use their power to influence elections.

Another possibility stems from the fact that 61% of these voters are ideologically moderate. They may be turned off by the shrill tones of activists from both teams.

These voters aren’t fans of the president—just 29% approve of the job he’s doing and only 19% believe he is a good role model. But, nearly half (45%) believe he is at least as ethical as most politicians.

Their top concerns revolve around economic issues (32%), health care (22%), social issues (18%), and security issues (10%). Whatever their top concern is, however, most (53%) don’t have confidence in one party or the other to address it. And they’re not connecting the concerns to the political process. Seventy-three percent (73%) talk about politics with family and friends less than once a week.

Much of the discord in the political process today stems from the inability of the politically obsessed to understand the majority of Americans who don’t fit the dominant political narrative. Often, it seems like the politically engaged don’t even want to understand the rest of the country.

At ScottRasmussen.com, we believe this disconnect is a serious problem and are committed to enhancing the public dialogue through data-driven analysis. With our partners at HarrisX, we will provide ongoing research and analysis with a particular focus on those who hold more nuanced views of the 21st century political environment. The results will often be baffling to those who live and breathe politics, but they will be invaluable for all who are sincerely interested in reconnecting our political world with the nation it is supposed to serve.

NOTE: Data in this column is from the first opinion survey research I’ve conducted in more than five years. Fifteen separate surveys of 1,000 Registered Voters each were conducted August 6-24 by HarrisX, a research company specializing in online surveys that looks at Americans’ opinions on technology, society, the economy, and public policy.

New data will be released four to eight times each day at ScottRasmussen.com. Data released earlier today includes:

Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats + 6

President Trump Job Approval at 47%

Conflicted Supporters and the Trump Spectrum

38% Believe Congress Too Conservative, 34% Say Too Liberal

18% Trust the Federal Government

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Scott Rasmussen is the publisher of ScottRasmussen.com. Neither he nor his site have any affiliation with Rasmussen Reports.® Scott is the author of “The Sun Is Still Rising. Politics Has Failed But America Will Not.”

Posted in Scott's Columns

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