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SSI Study Explains the Trump Phenomenon

— His Statements Persuade More Swing Voters Than They Push Away  

SHELTON, Conn., June 8, 2016 – Since announcing his run for president last June, Donald J. Trump’s public remarks have had the world talking. In a recent online study of 1,500 voters, SSI, the global leader in research data collection, measured respondent agreement and disagreement with 200 policy statements made by Trump. Several of his statements received positive responses from voters across the political spectrum.

After reading each statement, respondents indicated whether it increased, decreased or had no impact on their likelihood to vote for Trump. Respondents selected “has no impact” 49 percent of the time, “increases” 29 percent of the time and “decreases” their likelihood of voting for Trump 22 percent of the time.

“Although Trump is often regarded as a polarizing figure, our study shows that the sentiment and substance of many of his statements do resonate with most Americans,” said Paul Johnson, director of analytics, SSI. “Voters are aware of what Trump has said and they like many elements. In fact, Trump’s rhetoric persuades more swing voters than it pushes away.”

In particular, several of Trump’s populist statements scored high across all party affiliations. Republicans, Democrats and Independents in the study were unanimous in their positive response to the following: “We need to once again have a government that is of the people, for the people and by the people.” Respondents from every party also reacted positively to this statement: “The only special interest not being served by our government is the American people.”

Trump’s Top Ranking Statements – All Parties

  1. Our country needs a truly great leader, and we need a truly great leader now.
  1. One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace. Good people don’t go into government.
  1. We need to once again have a government that is of the people, for the people and by the people.
  1. I want to save Medicare and Social Security.
  1. Too few Americans are working, too many jobs have been shipped overseas and too many middle class families cannot make ends meet.

 

Many of Trump’s statements had a strong impact on Independent voters. “While only a minority of people, less than five percent, switched their preferred candidate after reading the Trump statements, 56 percent of them were Independents,” said Johnson. “Eighteen percent of these switchers went away from Trump, but 30 percent switched to Trump, giving him a net positive take among undecided voters.” 

Two policy themes that resonated strongly with both Independents and Republicans were domestic job protection and budget discipline. However, Independents reacted negatively to statements around waterboarding and global warming denial.

Trump’s Top Ranking Statements – Independents

  1. Our country needs a truly great leader, and we need a truly great leader now.
  1. One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace. Good people don’t go into government.
  1. We need to once again have a government that is of the people, for the people and by the people.
  1. If you tax something you get less of it. It's as simple as that. The more you tax work, the less people are willing to work. The more you tax investments, the fewer investments you'll get. This isn't rocket science.
  1. We’ve got to bring on the competition. Education reformers call this school choice, charter schools, vouchers, even opportunity scholarships. I call it competition—the American way.

 

The remaining top statements vary significantly by Republican versus Democratic audiences. Respondents who identify themselves as Republicans agree most with statements emphasizing the importance of building a wall along the Mexico border, building up the military and imposing budget discipline.

Those who identify as Democrats agree most with statements promoting universal healthcare, unions, Medicare, Social Security, Planned Parenthood and LGBT rights. In several cases, top statements for Republicans appeared as lowest ranking statements for Democrats and vice versa.

About the Study

SSI tested 200 statements made by Trump (regarding a variety of policy topics and positions). The study measured respondent agreement and disagreement with between 30 to 200 different policy statements. All respondents were exposed to at least 30 statements, with some respondents opting into additional rounds of exposure to more statements.

Initially, respondents were not aware that the statements had been made by Trump. Following statement exposure, respondents were informed that all statements were, in fact, from Trump. Respondents were asked both before and after statement testing who was their preferred candidate. Switchers were those who were not consistent pre- and post-statement attribution.

SSI is the premier global provider of data solutions and technology for consumer and business-to-business survey research. SSI reaches participants in 90+ sample countries via Internet, telephone, mobile/wireless and mixed-access offerings. SSI staff operates from 40 offices and remote staff in 20 countries, offering sample, data collection, CATI, questionnaire design consultation, programming and hosting, online custom reporting and data processing. SSI's 4,000+ employees serve more than 3,000 clients worldwide. Visit SSI at www.surveysampling.com.

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