New statewide election polls: presidential primary

Brown University’s Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy has released the results of two new public opinion surveys on the presidential primaries. The poll finds Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump leading the candidates in their respective parties.

Donkey and elephant symbolsPROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Two new public opinion surveys by Brown University’s Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy find that Democrat Hillary Clinton has a newly established 9-point lead over Bernie Sanders, and Republican Donald Trump leads his opponents by at least an 18-point margin. The two polls show a shift in support toward Hillary Clinton in the days following the Nevada Caucus.

Both polls surveyed random samples of 600 registered Rhode Island voters who are likely to vote in the primary. The first poll was conducted February 17-20, 2016 and has an overall margin of error of 4 percent. The second poll was conducted February 22-23, 2016, after the Democratic Caucus in Nevada and Republican Primary in South Carolina, and has an overall margin of error of 4 percent.

James Morone, professor of political science and director of the Taubman Center, will be available for interviews and further analysis during the day at 401-863-9960.

The Democratic primary – a shift in support toward Clinton

Clinton benefited from an 8-point swing in support between the two polls.

Clinton received 49 percent of the likely vote in the second poll, while Bernie Sanders received 40 percent. Eleven percent of voters remain undecided. In the first poll, Clinton received 41 percent while Sanders received 48 percent. Eleven percent were undecided.

Despite these numbers, Sanders continued to receive higher favorability scores. In the second poll, Sanders had the edge with a 56/37 percent favorable/unfavorable rating while Clinton received a 49/46 percent favorable/unfavorable rating. In the first poll, Sanders received a 59/32 percent favorable/unfavorable rating and Clinton a 47/49 percent favorable/unfavorable rating.

Between the two polls, Clinton strengthened her support among African Americans with a 24-point gain, while Sanders lost 10 points. In terms of income, Clinton gained 10 points for voters making less than $75,000, while Sanders lost 9 points. The numbers remain consistent for those with higher incomes. Sanders maintains a strong lead among voters under 30, however Clinton cuts into that lead between the two polls gaining 17 points.

The Republican primary – a growing stronghold for Trump

Trump continued to widen his lead between the two polls. In the second poll, Trump received 43 percent of the likely vote (41 percent in the first poll), maintaining an 18-point lead over Marco Rubio, and an even greater lead over the remaining Republicans in the race: Marco Rubio received 25 percent (14 percent in the first poll); John Kasich 14 percent (12 percent in the first poll); Ted Cruz 10 percent (8 percent in the first poll); and Ben Carson 3 percent (4 percent in the first poll). Five percent of likely Republican voters remain undecided (13 percent were undecided in the first poll). Jeb Bush, who suspended his campaign on February 20, 2016, received 7 percent in the first poll, and was not included in the second poll.

Voters asked about the favorability of Republican presidential candidates had the most favorable opinion of Kasich. Those results from the second poll follow: Kasich (37 percent favorable/36 percent unfavorable); Rubio (36 percent favorable/51 percent unfavorable); Trump (32 percent favorable/63 percent unfavorable); Carson (29 percent favorable/57 percent unfavorable); and Ted Cruz (23 percent favorable/66 percent unfavorable).

Trump has a strong edge over the other candidates among voters who are very likely to vote (voters who voted in the last 10-12 elections). He also has strong non-partisan support with 47 percent of the vote. Rubio follows with 25 percent. In terms of Republican voters, Trump leads by 35 percent to 24 percent (Rubio). Trump also has a significant edge for voters under 30 with 47 percent, while Rubio follows at 18 percent.

In addition, voters were also asked if things are going in the right or wrong direction in Rhode Island. Fifty percent of voters in both polls said the state is moving in the wrong direction.

Questions and answers for polls conducted February 17-23, 2016

Results from both polls are based on a telephone survey of random samples of 600 registered, likely voters in Rhode Island. Each poll had a margin of error of 4 percent. Note that totals may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding. Likely voters were defined as anyone who voted in November 2014, September 2014, April 2012, or registered since November 2014.

Researchers from the Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy’s John Hazen White Public Opinion Laboratory designed the survey instrument and conducted the analysis. The Taubman Center contracted David Binder Research Inc. to conduct interviews.

Second poll, February 22-23, 2016

The gender distribution of voters in the sample was 47 percent male and 53 percent female. The age distribution was 23 percent ages 18-39; 47 percent ages 40-64; 28 percent ages 65 and older. Party affiliation was 265 Democrats, 71 Republicans, and 264 with no party preference (129 lean Democrat/135 lean Republican). Interviews were conducted on landlines (65 percent) and cell phones (35 percent) Feb. 22-23, 2016.

  • I am going to read you the names of presidential candidates. For each I read, please tell me if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the person. If you have not heard of the name, just say so and we will move on. Hillary Clinton (49% favorable, 46% unfavorable), Bernie Sanders (56% favorable, 37% unfavorable), John Kasich (37% favorable, 36% unfavorable), Marco Rubio (36% favorable, 51% unfavorable), Donald Trump (32% favorable, 63% unfavorable), Ben Carson (29% favorable, 57% unfavorable), and Ted Cruz (23% favorable, 66% unfavorable).
  • If the Democratic Primary Election were today, for whom would you vote? Hillary Clinton 45% (with 4% leaning toward Clinton); Bernie Sanders 38% (with 2% leaning toward Sanders); Undecided 11%.
  • If the Republican Primary Election were today, for whom would you vote? Donald Trump 42% (with 1% leaning toward Trump); Marco Rubio 23% (with 2% leading toward Rubio); John Kasich 12% (with 2% leaning toward Kasich); Ted Cruz 10% (with less than 1% leaning toward Cruz); Ben Carson 3% (with 0% leaning toward Carson); Undecided 5%.

First poll, February 17-20, 2016

The gender distribution of voters in the sample was 47 percent male and 53 percent female. The age distribution was 22 percent ages 18-39; 49 percent ages 40-64; 25 percent ages 65 and older. Party affiliation was 264 Democrats, 77 Republicans, and 259 with no party preference (132 lean Democrat/127 lean Republican). Interviews were conducted on landlines (61 percent) and cell phones (39 percent) Feb. 17-20, 2016.

  • I am going to read you the names of presidential candidates. For each I read, please tell me if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the person. If you have not heard of the name, just say so and we will move on. Hillary Clinton (47% favorable, 49% unfavorable), Bernie Sanders (59% favorable, 32% unfavorable), John Kasich (36% favorable, 31% unfavorable), Marco Rubio (33% favorable, 51% unfavorable), Donald Trump (32% favorable, 63% unfavorable), Ben Carson (25% favorable, 56% unfavorable), Jeb Bush (24% favorable, 67% unfavorable), and Ted Cruz (22% favorable, 63% unfavorable).
  • If the Democratic Primary Election were today, for whom would you vote? Hillary Clinton 37% (with 4% leaning toward Clinton); Bernie Sanders 44% (with 4% leaning toward Sanders); Undecided 11%.
  • If the Republican Primary Election were today, for whom would you vote? Donald Trump 40% (with 1% leaning toward Trump); Marco Rubio 13% (with 1% leading toward Rubio); John Kasich 11% (with 1% leaning toward Kasich); Ted Cruz 8% (with less than 1% leaning toward Cruz); Jeb Bush 6% (with 1% leaning toward Bush); Ben Carson 4% (with 0% leaning toward Carson); Undecided 13%.

Cross tabulations for both polls can be found here.