2012 Romney Voters and 2016 Trump Voters Diverge Demographically But Prefer a Republican-Controlled Congress

In our efforts to continue to understand the 2016 cycle, we created a three-way split of voters based on their self-reported 2012 presidential vote and their response to the 4-way 2016 presidential ballot question across the surveys conducted for NBC-WSJ since June 2016. As a note, we didn’t exclude anyone based on partisanship in this run.

The three groups were:

  1. Romney+Trump: Any voter who said they would vote for Trump and also reported voting for Romney in 2012
  2. Trump NOT Romney: Any voter who said they would vote for Trump but did NOT vote for Romney (We allowed those who said they “didn’t vote” in 2012 filter into this group)
  3. Romney NOT Trump: Any voter who said they would NOT vote for Trump but did vote for Romney

Romney+Trump voters are 24% of voters overall and 56% of all Republican/leaners.

  • Overall, their party ID is 64% GOP – 3% Dem – 39% Lean/Ind.
  • They mirror the overall population in terms of education and geography.
  • They are the oldest (55% over 55 years old) of the three cohorts.
  • But, they are more heavily concentrated in the South (41%).
  • These are the MOST likely voters of the three cohorts to describe themselves as Evangelical Christians (33%).
  • They view the GOP the best – 60% Pos/23% Neut/16% Neg.
  • Over 70% have a positive opinion of Trump
  • Overwhelmingly prefer a GOP-Controlled Congress (94% GOP – 1% Dem).
  • They view Paul Ryan positively by two to one (43% Pos/29% Neut/21% Neg)

Trump NOT Romney voters are 11% of voters overall and 19% of all Republican/leaners.

  • Overall, their party ID is 43% GOP – 9% Dem – 40% Lean/Ind.
  • They are the second oldest (38% over 55 years old) of the three cohorts.
  • They are the most Rural (20%) and the least well-educated (76% Less than College).
  • They are also more heavily concentrated in the South (40%).
  • These are the LEAST likely of the three cohorts to be self-described Evangelical Christians (20%).
  • They view the GOP well – 52% Pos/29% Neut/18% Neg.
  • Seventy percent (70%) have a positive opinion of Trump.
  • They strongly prefer a GOP-Controlled Congress (76% GOP – 11% Dem).
  • They view Paul Ryan positively but only by a narrow margin (30% Pos/27% Neut/25% Neg).
  • Thirty-eight percent (38%) of these voters say they did not vote in the 2012 presidential election.

Romney NOT Trump voters are 8% of voters overall and 13% of all Republican/leaners.

  • Overall, their party ID is 40% GOP – 7% Dem – 43% Lean/Ind.
  • They are the youngest of the three cohorts (52% under 45 years old and 32% under 35 years old).
  • They tend to be non-rural (11% Rural, 60% Suburban, 28% Urban), and are more likely to be college graduates (31%) than the other groups.
  • Just 30% of these voters are from the South.
  • Just 24% of these voters are self-described Evangelical Christians.
  • They view the GOP very badly – 24% Pos/28% Neut/48% Neg.
  • Seventy-seven percent (77%) have a negative opinion of Trump.
  • But STILL this group very strongly prefers a GOP-Controlled Congress (75% GOP – 15% Dem).
  • They view Paul Ryan positively by more than two to one (47% Pos/25% Neut/13% Neg*). * Data based on 94 interviews.

Bottom Line

There is certainly a chunk of voters who are unique to Trump’s candidacy and another that Romney attracted that Trump has not. But, regardless of how these voters might vote on the top of the ticket, they overwhelmingly prefer a Republican-controlled Congress.

*The NBCWSJ poll is conducted by the firms of Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research Associates. The views expressed in this blog are those of Micah Roberts and not necessarily shared by Hart Research Associates or NBC News and the Wall Street Journal.
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