Are we better off today than in 2008? Seventy percent of Beast readers say yes, we most certainly are, despite the GOP’s never-ending beat to the contrary.
That’s according to a polling application The Daily Beast hosted in the right rail of all our political coverage on the site, throughout both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. For each event, we asked convention-specific yes-or-no questions to help understand what our readers think about the policies and politics being discussed in Tampa and Charlotte. The majority of the questions at first came from us, but eventually many were submitted by readers—the content of which was controlled with some light moderation on our end.
Now that both conventions have come to a close, we’re digging deep into the polling data’s backend, which is hosted on Urtak.com, to help paint a picture of the presidential race from the eyes of the NewsBeast reader.
A little background: The Republican National Convention poll was created Aug. 24 and is still active through Friday, Sept. 7. It appears on all of our stories and Cheat Sheet items that are published on our RNC page. Overall, 51 available questions were answered a total of 33,757 times. A similar poll for the Democratic National Convention, which also appeared on DNC-specific features on the site, had 37 questions garnering 17,179 responses. So our percentages come from a total of 50,000 responses over nearly two weeks. Seven percent of respondents said they were undecided voters, and 48 percent said that at one point they had voted for a Republican presidential candidate.
The most popular question from both polls, with 1,158 votes, was: “Are Republicans better equipped to fix the economy?” The verdict is in: 87 percent of Beast readers overwhelmingly said no.
Seventy percent said they could be convinced the nation is not in decline, even as just 51 percent said the president has lived up to their expectations. Indeed, Obama’s approval ratings, at least among Beast readers, are consistent and high. (Note: The latest RCP Average has Obama at a 47.5 percent approval rating.)
Eighty-three percent said yes, they approve of Barack Obama’s presidency, and 84 percent predicted he’ll be reelected president in November. Is he still “likable enough” to win over American voters? Eighty-seven percent said yep, the weekend golfer and father of two sure is. And what about his wife? The same percentage of respondents gave the first lady a thumbs-up. The veep maintains his popularity too. Just 14 percent of readers said Joe Biden should be replaced on the November ticket.
As for overall election predictions, Beast readers were pretty divided.
Forty-nine percent said the House would stay with the Republicans. (When readers were asked if Democrats would win back the House, that number sunk to 40 percent. Intrade, meanwhile, gives Republicans controlling the House in the fall a 90.7 percent chance as of Friday, Sept. 7, so perhaps Beast readers may want to consider the return policy on their crystal balls.)
Most surprisingly, just 13 percent predicted a Mitt Romney win.
Perhaps the blame for that discontent lies not with the economy but with the candidate himself. Thirty-four percent of Beast readers said yes, they have a clear understanding of where Mitt Romney stands on his policies, while 86 percent said he’ll never give any real details anyway. Is Romney a wimp? You betcha. Seventy-one percent said yes. And was Paul Ryan a smart choice for his veep? A whopping 71 percent said picking him was a bad idea. Now what about those tax returns? Nearly everyone, 91 percent, said Romney needs to release them for public review. As for the fact that he’s a Mormon, only 21 percent of respondents said that was a concern.
Looking ahead to 2016, more than two-thirds of Beast readers said Hillary Clinton should step up and make a run for the presidency. Martin O’Malley? 55 percent said yes after the Maryland governor’s well-received DNC speech. Across the aisle, 76 percent predicted Chris Christie would go for the White House in 2016, even though he may have already missed his moment. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro still has to work on his name recognition. Just 36 percent said they had heard his name before his primetime convention speech.
And which policies should be the focus of the next four years? The “war on women” meme doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, as 82 percent said the GOP is still waging those battles. Six percent of respondents said they oppose abortion, even in cases of incest and rape; 83 percent said they support same-sex marriage; and 70 percent said the president should embrace the Simpson-Bowles recommendations for debt reduction.
In a drop from the heady days of Al Gore and An Inconvenient Truth, just 62 percent said a reelected Obama administration should prioritize environmental issues, while 51 percent said they miss the big-tent, business-friendly days of the Clinton administration.
After Bill Clinton’s Wednesday night speech, that feeling can hardly get any clearer. As Newsweek’s cover story explains, Barack truly needs Bill.