ALABAMA POST- ELECTION SURVEY
METHODOLOGY • Public Opinion Strategies is pleased to present the key findings of a statewide telephone survey in Alabama. • The survey was completed November 7-8, 2012 among 550 voters who indicated having voted in the 2012 presidential election (which includes an N=50 oversample of African Americans weighted to appropriate levels within the statewide sample). The sample has a margin of error of +4.18%. • Lori Weigel was the principal researcher on this project. Becky Kramer was the project director with Brian Fraser providing analytical assistance.
KEY FINDINGS • Support for Amendment One was so significant, it extends across most regions of the state and with all key demographic and partisan sub-groups. • The campaign and branding effort was successful in boosting awareness of Forever Wild. Given the ballot language, awareness of the program continued to be the best predictor of support. • Similarly, the campaign was able to erase the “sportsmen gap” in previous data and boost support among all key sub-groups. • TV ads were more likely to be recalled than any other single medium of communication.
KEY FINDINGS • Rationales in support of Amendment One largely reflect the campaign communications and key messages. The campaign targets also were by far the best ones – women and African Americans decided later about the Amendment and ended up supporting it at levels on par or higher than the rest of the electorate. • Voters who skipped over the measure largely point to the ballot language as being too vague or not knowing enough about the Amendment. Not understanding the Amendment was also frequently cited by No voters as a reason for their vote decision.
Fully 78% of survey respondents who say they voted on Amendment One indicate supporting it – within margin of error of actual results. Post-Election Survey Results Actual Election Results YES 75% NO 25% “I understand the confidentiality of your vote and the privacy of the voting booth, but I want to assure you that this poll is being completed for research purposes only and that all responses given will remain strictly confidential. In order to help me do the best research possible, would you now please reconsider and tell me how you voted?”
The one-in-four who either didn’t recall or say they didn’t vote on the measure are more likely to be…
Among those who voted, a majority say that they decided in the last few days before or on Election Day. “When would you say you made your FINAL decision on which way you were going to vote on Amendment One in the election?”
While these late deciders are still overwhelmingly supportive, they do not match the support levels of those who decided earlier in the campaign.
Younger women and African Americans were clearly the right targets for the campaign. They decided later than most voter sub-groups.
Later in the survey, we provided respondents with the actual ballot language of Amendment One. Having heard that, 76% of those who recall voting say they supported the measure. “Now, let me read you Amendment One exactly as it appeared on the ballot… Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, relating to the Forever Wild Land Trust, to reauthorize the trust for a 20‐year period. Having heard more about it, did you vote Yes in favor or no against Amendment One? Again, if you did not vote on it or cannot recall how you voted just say so and we'll go to the next question.”
One can clearly see that the campaign changed the dynamics of this race. Amendment One Mid-October 2012 October 2011 2012 Post Elect Survey 24% Definitely
The survey data underscores that voters of every type did in fact support Amendment One.
The measure received broad bipartisan support. Amendment One Ballot By Party
The measure received broad bipartisan support. Amendment One Ballot By Ideology/Party
Obama voters were somewhat more likely to support the measure. Amendment One Ballot By Presidential Ballot
The Amendment received stronger support among older Alabamans than young people, which runs counter to the usual trends. Amendment One Ballot By Age
And so there was fairly equal support levels between parents and those without children at home. Amendment One Ballot By Parent Status
African American support ended up being very strong. Amendment One Ballot By Ethnicity and Ethnicity/Gender
We encountered the opposite dynamic in the 2011 test of the ballot language. 2011 Amendment One Data By Ethnicity
The campaign erased the “sportsmen gap” which was so evident in the initial data. 2011 Amendment One Data By Sportsmen 2012 Amendment One Ballot By Sportsmen
Although, those more familiar with Forever Wild were still slightly more likely to vote Yes. Amendment One Ballot By Forever Wild Image
There was strong support among both the religious and the secular. Amendment One Ballot By Religious Conservatives and Church Attendance
There was solid support in all types of communities. Amendment One Ballot By Area Type
Voters throughout Alabama say they registered solid support for the measure. Amendment One Ballot By Media Market and Region
Half say they read the ballot language in advance of voting, and essentially the same proportion believe it helped determine how they voted. “And did you have an opportunity to read the actual language of Amendment One before you voted, OR did you not have the chance to read the actual language until you were voting?” “Did the language of Amendment One provide enough information alone to help determine how you would vote, or did it not provide enough information to help determine how you would vote?”
No voters were more likely to find the ballot language lacking in explaining the measure. Language Helped By Amendment One Voters
Respondents who admit skipping Amendment One are most likely to point to the ballot language as the reason they did not vote on it. “What are the one or two reasons you chose NOT to vote on Amendment One?”
One of the top rationales No voters cite for their vote decision was not understanding the ballot language of the measure. “What are the one or two reasons you chose NOT to vote on Amendment One?”
Nearly two-in-five voters could correctly volunteer what Amendment One was about with any prompting at all – a fairly high proportion. “Do you happen to recall what Amendment One, the first constitutional amendment on the ballot, was about?” – Multiple responses allowed.
There was decidedly higher support among the 44% of voters who recall seeing significant information about this measure. Forever Wild Ballot By Amendment One Awareness “In the weeks before the election, how much did you see, read or hear about Amendment One?”
Three in ten mention seeing ads on TV, and numerous others cite the specific content of those ads as what they saw about the measure. “And what specifically do you recall having seen, read or heard about Amendment One, prior to the election?”
2012 voters also noticed that there was very little opposition. “Everything was for it, and no commercials against it. One was a couple of coaches in the area recommending everyone vote yes. Another one was a couple of moms taking their children after school to run around in the wild. They just kept running those two (ads) over, and over again. – Suburban Moderate Woman in Jefferson County “I remember seeing Gene Stallings and Pat standing on a field, in what appeared to be hunting gear, and how we needed to vote for amendment one. I heard things in the local (talk) radio, and the sports radio opposing to not vote for it due to how the money set aside for Alabama Wild was being stifled off on other things, so he said to vote against it. All (ads) were advocating for it.” – 35-44 year old White Man in Madison County
In fact, voters were most likely to recall TV ads of any communication utilized in this effort. Campaign materials left at your front door or provided at community events “More specifically, please tell me whether you saw, heard or received any of the following types of information about Amendment One, regarding the Forever Wild Land Trust.”
Voters who got information from ANY source – even talk radio – ended up voting Yes by wide margins. Amendment One Language By Info Source
It is clear that Yes voters support the measure because it is good for Alabama’s natural lands. “What are the one or two reasons you voted In Favor/AgainstAmendment One regarding the Forever Wild Land Trust?”
Yes voters mimic back some of the messaging – about kids, no cost and the places. “Because we've always loved the place where we live, we’ve enjoyed it, and I think future generations should have the same privilege…I think it's the joy of being in the forest, the parks. Everyone should have the advantage to that if they want to. We’ve always camped.” -- Senior woman in Calhoun County “I just love nature and the beaches.” – 35-44 year old African American man in Madison County “I think it's a good idea to preserve ourselves, our natural heritage…Oh and it didn't cost me anything. Preserving the natural green space for our children to enjoy. That's it. And the cost was, well, there was no cost for it.” – Senior man in Madison County
Awareness of Forever Wild shot up dramatically from last year. 2011 Forever Wild Awareness 2012 Forever Wild Awareness “Do you have a favorable opinion or an unfavorable opinion of the Alabama Forever Wild Program? If you are unfamiliar with the program, please just tell me that.”
The top sub-groups which are more aware of Forever Wild today, include…
The proportion of voters who thought Amendment One would increase their taxes also was significantly lower than in past surveys. % Almost Certain/Very Likely To Increase 2009 64% 2012 31% “Now that Amendment One has been approved, is that taxes will increase almost certain to happen, very likely, somewhat likely, or not that likely to happen?”
And 2012 voters clearly saw the measure as providing benefits with few buying into critics’ central concerns about the amendment. Ranked By Almost Certain/Very Likely We will protect wildlife and our natural resources for future generations Alabama will protect its economy by conserving natural areas, like beaches, that attract tourists We will protect sources of clean drinking water Our quality of life will be maintained It will increase the government land grab of private property in Alabama “I am going to read you some things that some people said would happen if voters approved Amendment One regarding Forever Wild. After each one, please tell me how likely you think that is to happen now that the amendment has been approved.”
Voters who skipped over Amendment One are closer to the views of No voters in their assumptions about the measure’s outcome.
The kind of information also affected voters. While we know water tested as the strongest benefit in previous surveys, the communications focusing on other aspects of the measure are reflected in supporters’ rationales for voting Yes. Ranked By First Choice Places for outdoor recreation and where kids can play Places to hunt and fish Sources of clean drinking water State parks Places that attract tourists and benefit the economy Beaches and coastal areas Water quality of rivers, lakes and streams Protecting Wildlife/Environment “I'd like to read you just a few of the ways in which funds from the Forever Wild program are used here in Alabama and please tell me which one was most important in your vote decision. The Forever Wild program protects.”
CONCLUSIONS • The effort behind the Forever Wild amendment overcame vague ballot language to achieve strong support across virtually all sub-groups, all regions of the state and all partisan distinctions. • Thesimultaneous branding effort helped to connect the dots for many voters and generated greater awareness and a favorable impression. Both bear a strong relationship with support for the amendment. • 2012 voters clearly received the campaign’s messages. For example, the perception that the measure would increase taxes is significantly lower than on previous surveys, for example.
CONCLUSIONS • The data also demonstrates that the campaign was correct in its efforts to communicate with younger women and African Americans as they were far more likely to have decided late. African American women ended up being one of the strongest sub-groups in support of the Amendment – a dramatic turnaround from one year ago. • It is also clear in this uncluttered market that TV still made the biggest impression on voters. Yes voters are most likely to mimic back the key elements highlighted in the TV ads. • Finally, it is worth noting that few buy the arguments of critics about the measure.