Republicans, Democrats Likely to Split Wins on Election Day

According to a poll conducted by the Alderson Broaddus University Political Science Program’s class on Campaigns and Elections, Tuesday Night should be an interesting night, with the Republicans in Barbour County winning the Presidency, the House of Representatives, the Auditor’s race (by a small margin), the House of Delegates, the Attorney General’s race and the County Assessor. Democrats in Barbour County should prevail in the Secretary of State, the Treasurer, State Senate, Commissioner of Agriculture, County Clerk and County Commission Races. The races for Attorney General and Governor are too close to call.

Almost 77 percent of all respondents believe our presidential nominees are worse than in previous elections; 14 percent believe they are the same; and 5 percent think they are better than in previous elections.  More than sixty % say they have been following the election closely, with 24 % saying they have followed it sometimes.  76 % of respondents got their campaign information from broadcast or cable news, with 14 % getting information from the Internet.  Only 7 % listened to the radio for their campaign information.

The survey, which was conducted from October 14 to October 26, has a statistical margin of error of 7.6%.  The Survey sampled 150 Likely Voters in Barbour County, asking respondents who they planned to vote for in 14 ballot races in November.  The sample respondents were 92% White Non-Hispanic; were 52% females; were on average 57 years of age; and had incomes around $47,500.  68 % of respondents were born in West Virginia; and 27 % were born in Philippi.  43 % of the sample were self-identified Democrats, 42% were self-identified Republicans. 9 % of respondents were Independents and 3 % were Mountain Party members.

MAIN FINDINGS

Republicans are slightly more enthused about their candidates than are Democrats– Republican candidates in this poll are predicted to win with an average of 52% of the vote; Democratic candidates are predicted to win with an average 47 % of the vote.  However, the margin of victory for the winning candidate is the same for Republican candidates and Democratic candidates: roughly 1 and a half votes for every vote the losing candidate receives.

VOTING GAPS

GENDER GAP
Political scientists have long noted that Republican candidates suffer a gender gap in voting– Female voters nationally and in most states are much more likely to vote Democratic than are their male counterparts. This finding is generally not true in Barbour County.  The only race in which significant gender differences appeared was in the race for Secretary of State, and in that race, females were three times more likely to be undecided or to refuse to answer. In terms of vote choice, there was no difference between male and female resondents.

AGE GAP

One would expect an age gap, with so many races pitting an older candidate against a younger candidate; but once again, in general age made no difference in voting choice.

WEST VIRGINIA GAP

Perhaps the most interesting finding was that for the race for Governor, for Attorney General and for Commissioner of Agriculture; there was a significant gap between those born in West Virginia and those born outside the state.  Those born outside West Virginia are more than twice as likely to state they were planning to vote for a Third Party candidate than for either Bill Cole or Jim Justice.  Those in West Virginia were three times more likely than those not born in West Virginia to state they were undecided for the Attorney General race– anecdotal data suggests this is because of the extremely negative campaign both candidates have run.  The same is true of the Secretary of Agriculture’s race– many more of those born in West Virginia stated they were not going to vote for this office than those born outside the State.

PHILIPPI GAP

Perhaps the most interesting finding was differences in voting intention between those born in Philippi and those born outside Philippi.  Those born in Philippi were twice as likely as those born outside Philippi to choose Jim Justice over Bill Cole.  Those born outside of Philippi were twice as likely as those born in Philippi to choose David McKinley over Mike Manypenny.  Those born in Philippi were twice as likely as those born outside Philippi to choose Natalie Tennant over Mac Warner for Secretary of State. Those born in Philippi were equally divided in their support for Thomas Hoxie and for Jodie Boylen, but those born outside Philippi prefer Hoxie by a more than two to one margin over Boylen.  Finally, those born in Philippi prefer Jedd Schola by a two to one margin over Susie Cvechko, but those born outside Philippi prefer Cvechko by a small margin.

CONCLUSION

In Barbour County, the vote seems to depend on male voters more than female voters.  Throughout the data, the candidate who won did so by attracting more male voters than did that candidate’s opponent.  In most cases, female voting split pretty equally between candidates.  Most of the time, female voting tended far more towards third party candidates or towards not voting than did male voting.

CAVEATS

It should be noted that this is a poll of voters who had voted in at least one previous presidential election, and the sample is weighted equally between the parties.  Nevertheless, the patterns of responses were quite consistent as the surveys came in, suggesting that these are real patterns.

Perhaps the most interesting finding is that only five precent of Democrats voted party line, and the same amount of Republicans voted a straight party ticket. Democrats were far more likely to cross party lines for the Presidency, and Republicans were more likely for Secretary of State and County Commission.

For more information, contact Michael Bobic, bobicmp@ab.edu, (304) 457-6330.