An overwhelming majority of the people who rallied with comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on Saturday are likely to vote Democratic in Tuesday’s elections, but only one-in-four is more enthusiastic about voting this year compared to 2008, according to USAction’s Straw Poll of rally participants conducted by Lake Research Partners.
While 86 percent of those surveyed plan on voting Democratic for Tuesday’s crucial midterm elections, another 8 percent said they are undecided with 1 percent planning to vote Republican. The remaining 5 percent say they are unlikely to vote – although the straw poll was conducted before the end of the rally when calls for civic participation were given full voice, according to an announcement of the poll results.
“As campaigns focus on mobilization nationwide, the survey data suggests that such efforts are extraordinarily important,” said pollster Celinda Lake.
Some 200,000 or more people descended on the ground by the Capitol Saturday to participate in the celebrity-fueled “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear,” organized by comedians Stewart and Colbert. Stewart’s overall goal for the rally appeared to be one of fostering greater civility and participation in voting — not necessarily a straight partisan message.
Voters surveyed at the rally reported only moderate enthusiasm for Tuesday’s election – only one-in-four (25 percent) said they are more enthusiastic about voting this cycle than they were in 2008, while a plurality (39 percent) said they are less enthusiastic and 36 percent saying their level of enthusiasm hasn’t changed.
Democrats will be defending their congressional majorities Tuesday in what has been a persistently strong anti-incumbent sentiment among many Americans, and a concerted effort by conservative tea party activists to gain power, so as to block President Obama’s initiatives.
Many pundits believe Republicans likely will take control of at least congressional chamber as a result of Tuesday’s voting.
“Tuesday’s election isn’t about witches or manning up. It’s about real issues that matter to the future of our country,” says USAction President William McNary, referring to two catch phrases used by tea party-backed candidates this year.
“Our survey was designed to find out what they care about,” says McNary. “This election is about jobs, health care, the economy, poverty, war and many other issues effecting Americans. We want to find out what is truly driving people this election season.”
A plurality (41 percent) say the president’s No. 1 priority ought to be improving the jobs situation, more than double the number who selected any of other issue option. Second tier priorities include quality education (18 percent), energy and the environment (17 percent), ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (13 percent) and improving health care (11 percent.)
About 87 percent of this audience believes the Obama administration should prioritize “investing in programs that put people back to work” as opposed to “focusing on cutting spending instead” (13 percent.) In this regard, rally attendees appear to side heavily with the vast majority of economists when it comes to the proper course of action for reducing unemployment.
Most of the people who participated in the poll were supportive of Obama and want his administration to focus aggressively on a jobs creation agenda. An overwhelming majority (90 percent) approved of the president, including more than half (56 percent) who approve of him strongly. In contrast, only 10 percent disapproves of the president (2 percent strongly.)
The USAction Straw Poll was conducted by text message on cell phones. Participants texted SANITY or FEAR to 228466 (ACTION) and received a short survey about their views on Obama, Tuesday’s election, and which issues they think are most important for the country.
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.