Although the notion is popular among followers of politics, a single constituency—soccer moms or NASCAR dads—seldom, if ever, decides the outcome of an election. That said, in each election cycle, some groups of voters receive a greater share of attention, from both campaigns and the news media, as potential swing voters or targets for get-out-the-vote mobilization.
We worked with our partners at Axios to identify five key subgroups to watch for the 2018 midterms, and will be tracking their views nationwide during the Fall campaign. Here is our first take, looking at how these groups compare when it comes to Trump approval, issue priorities and general political classifications like self-described party identification and ideology.
African American Women
African-American women are overwhelmingly negative in their assessment of President Donald Trump. Eighty-five percent (85%) disapprove of the way he is handling his job as president, while just 12% approve. Better than three quarters (70%) strongly disapprove. Those who report voting in 2016 were nearly unanimous in their support for Clinton over Trump (67% to 4%).
Not surprisingly, African-American women also overwhelmingly prefer the Democrat to the Republican (69% to 9%) running for Congress in their district.
While most African-American women also identify as Democrats, their overall political orientation is slightly less monolithic. More than two-thirds (69%) identify with or lean to the Democratic party, just 9% identify or lean Republican and 18% lean to neither party. Nearly half (48%) describe their politics as “moderate”, with 27% describing themselves as liberal and 19% as conservative.
Nearly 4 out of 5 (81%) of African-American women report being registered to vote, only slightly lower than all adults nationwide (82%). Yet while they also preferred Clinton to Trump, 20% reported that they did not vote in 2016.
The top three issues concerns of African-American women today are jobs and the economy (28%), health care (25%) and education (17%). They mention these issues more often than other Americans.
Millennials (Age 18 to 34)
Younger Americans—those now between the ages of 18 and 34—are more Democratic, liberal and hostile to President Trump than other Americans. They identify with or lean to the Democratic Party (45%) far more than the Republican Party (29%). More identify as liberal (31%) than conservative (25%), and just 35% approve of the job Donald Trump is doing as president with 63% who disapprove. Nearly half (47%) strongly disapprove.
While younger voters say they prefer the Democratic party candidate (49%) to the Republican party candidate (27%) in their U.S. House district, their turnout is likely to be lower than older voters. Millenials are the least likely to report being registered to vote (only 68% say they’re registered where they live), compared to Americans age 35 to 64 (86%) or age 65 or older (94%). Better than one third (39%) say they did not vote in 2016.
Like other Americans, Millenials choose jobs and the economy (25%) as their most important issue concern. They are less likely than other Americans to mention health care (15%) and immigration (16%) as important, more likely to select education (15%) and the environment (12%).
Rural Americans—those who say they live in a rural rather than an urban or suburban area—are much more Republican and pro-Trump than Americans elsewhere. Nearly half (49%) identify or lean to the Republican party, while less than a third (31%) identify or lean to the Democrats. That said, their views are also not monolithic. While a majority (56%) approve of the job Trump is doing as president, 42% disapprove. Better than a third (38%) strongly approve.
Despite their partisan leanings, rural Americans are similar to those in non-rural areas in terms of the issue concerns they select as mattering most. That said, they are slightly more likely to mention jobs and the economy (27%) and health care (22%) than their urban and suburban counterparts.
Rural America is more white (76%) than suburban (66%) or urban America (53%). Just one quarter of rural Americans (25%) say they have a college degree compared to 41% of urban and 42% of suburban Americans.
Suburban White Women
Suburban white women are as closely divided about politics as any demographic subgroup. They split nearly evenly between those who identify or lean to the Democratic Party (44%) and those who lean or identify as Republicans (42%). They split almost as closely between self-described conservatives (31%) and liberals (28%), while a plurality (39%) describe themselves as moderate.
Nonetheless, most give President Donald Trump a negative rating—44% approve, 55% disapprove—for the way he is handling his job as president. Nearly half (45%) strongly disapprove.
They favor the Democratic candidate for Congress in their district over the Republican candidate by a similar margin (48% to 40%). They are also more likely than other Americans to say they are registered to vote (89% vs 82% of all adults).
While 21% mention jobs or the economy as the most important issue, like other women, they are less likely to place it as number one than men. They also mention health care (21%) and immigration (19%) as top issues.
A small but potentially critical group of swing voters for 2018 consists of registered voters who identify as independents, lean to neither political party, and did not vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. This subgroup accounts for just 9% of all adults nationwide.
In 2016, they divided three ways, with 33% reporting they voted for Trump, 37% not voting at all and 23% saying they voted for a third party candidate.
They are currently divided on Donald Trump, with slightly more disapproving (51%) than approving (47%) of the job he has been doing as president. The gap is wider among voters between strong disapproval (31%) and strong approval (18%).
Not surprisingly, the majority of these independents describe their politics as moderate (63%) rather than conservative (22%) or liberal (13%). Their issue priorities are similar to all registered voters, but they are slightly more likely to mention jobs and economy as their top issue (29% vs. 25% among all RVs), less likely to mention immigration (11% vs. 20% of all RVs).
Methodology: This analysis is based on SurveyMonkey online surveys conducted June 19-July 20 2018 among 52,211 adults in the United States. Results for congressional vote preference and for subgroups based on self-reported rural, suburban or urban status are from interviews conducted July 1-13 among 9,767 adults nationwide. The modeled error estimate for the subgroups ranges between plus or minus 1.5 and plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Respondents for this survey were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. Data have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age 18 and over. More information about our methodology here. Crosstabs available here.