Political Report–An early look: Primary season and Obama’s legacy

header-hoover-institution-fellows1-1by Karlyn Bowman,  Eleanor O’Neil, Heather Sims

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What will the Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada caucus and primary electorates look like? This issue of Political Report provides clues by looking at their past profiles. Before President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address, we also assess early returns on the president’s legacy — his overall approval rating, nationally and among Democrats, and public opinion of Obama on the issues that have featured prominently during his tenure as president. Finally, we show how Americans reacted to Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States.

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GOP caucus and primary voter profiles

  • Notable differences: In the 2012 Iowa GOP caucus entrance poll, 56 percent were white evangelicals, compared with 21 percent in the New Hampshire primary exit poll. Forty-seven percent in Iowa and 49 percent in Nevada were very conservative; 47 percent in New Hampshire were moderate or liberal.

The Obama legacy: Early returns

  • Overall performance: Nationally, 50 percent say President Obama’s failures will outweigh his accomplishments, while 44 percent believe his accomplishments will outweigh his failures (Pew). His approval rating hovers around 45 percent, and his disapproval rating has been higher than his approval rating for most of the past two years in CNN/Opinion Research Corporation polls.
  • What Democrats think: Currently, 81 percent of Democrats consider his presidency a success, and 77 percent say they are either very or somewhat satisfied with it (CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, CBS News/The New York Times).
  • On the issues: Approval of Obama’s handling of terrorism has declined during his presidency from 61 percent in February 2009 to 38 percent in November–December 2015 (Gallup and CNN/Opinion Research Corporation). A Fox News question asked eight times since 2009 shows registered voters consistently divided about whether the Obama administration has made the economy better or worse, most recently with 42 percent saying better and 47 percent worse.

Trump’s Muslim ban

  • What people really think: Most polls show that around 60 percent of Americans oppose a total ban on Muslims entering the United States, although far more Democrats than Republicans express this opinion (NBC News/The Wall Street Journal, CBS News, ABC News/Washington Post). Almost half (46 percent) think such a ban would have no effect on the United States’ safety from terrorism (CBS News).
  • Muslims and Islam: Half of Americans say they do not know any Muslims (CBS News). Around 60 percent say they have a favorable opinion of them (NBC News/The Wall Street Journal). A Pew Research Center question from December 2015 shows Americans split, 46 to 45 percent, about whether “The Islamic religion is more likely than others to encourage violence among its believers.”

Political Report–An early look: Primary season and Obama’s legacy by Latinos Ready To Vote

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