Report of RTB primary survey; more research and data is needed to understand this issue

Restore the Balance

Candidate Preference Survey


Introduction:

Restore the Balance is a 501(c)4 non-profit organization that exists to educate the public about the danger political extremism poses to a healthy democracy. Although we have chosen not to endorse any specific candidate, we designed a survey and sent it to more than 1,600 citizens living in Colorado’s Third Congressional District.


Those receiving the survey had visited the Restore the Balance website, www.restorethebalance.org, and endorsed “We can build an alternative to political extremism,” a set of political principles designed to rebuild how politics are practiced in Western Colorado. Those who endorsed these principles pledged to support candidates – regardless of party – that best embodied these principles.


The survey asked respondents to select which candidates in the upcoming Republican and Democratic primary would do the best job of rejecting political extremism. Candidates who were running uncontested were excluded from the survey.


Methodology

Respondents were recruited from the Restore the Balance email database. Sixteen-hundred and twelve (1,612) surveys were sent to those living in Colorado’s Third Congressional District. Surveys were sent May 23 and respondents were instructed to complete the survey no later than 5pm on May 30. Respondents returned 490 surveys for a healthy return rate of 30 percent. The vast majority of respondents were registered to vote in Mesa County.


To qualify for the survey, respondents had to:

• Be registered as voters in Colorado’s Third Congressional District

• Disclose their registration as a Democrat, Republican, another party, or unaffiliated.

• If unaffiliated, report on which party primary, Democratic or Republican, they intended to vote.


Respondents were then sent to one of three surveys:

• A survey for Mesa County residents choosing the Republican primary.

• A survey for those living in other Third District counties choosing the Republican primary.

• A survey for all intending to vote in the Democratic Party. Because of the number of uncontested races in the Democratic Party, the only contested race surveyed was for U.S. Representative to the Third Congressional District.


Due to sample size restrictions, down ballot races in counties outside of Mesa County could not be included.


Important considerations:

This survey does not claim to be representative of the voters of Colorado’s Third Congressional District. And while more than 70 percent reported being unaffiliated with a party, this survey does not claim to be representative of all unaffiliated voters in the district.


The survey is intended to represent voters who believe that political extremism is a danger to a healthy democracy and have pledged to actively oppose it. It reveals which candidates these respondents prefer, if any.



The Results


Republican Party Primary – State and Congressional District races


Q: Which of the following candidates for the U.S. Senate do you feel will do the best job at rejecting political extremism?

Hanks 1%

O’Dey 14%

Don’t know/not sure 64%

Neither of them 21%



Q: Which of the following candidates for Governor do you feel will do the best job at rejecting political extremism?

Ganahl 8%

Lopez 5%

Don’t know/not sure 61%

Neither of them 26%



Q: Which of the following candidates for Secretary of State do you feel will do the best job at rejecting political extremism?

Anderson 34%

O’Donnell 7%

Peters 0%

Don’t know/not sure 36%

Neither of them 23%



Q: Which of the following candidates for U.S. Representative of the Third Congressional District do you feel will do the best job at rejecting political extremism?

Boebert 1%

Coram 96%

Don’t know/not sure 1%

Neither of them 2%



Republican Party Primary – Mesa County Republican Primary down-ballot races


Q: Which of the following candidates for Colorado House District 55 do you feel will do the best job at rejecting political extremism?

Rick Taggart 59%

Trish Weber 5%

Don’t know/not sure 30%

Neither of them 6%



Q: Which of the following candidates for Mesa County Clerk do you feel will do the best job at rejecting political extremism?

Julie Fisher 5%

Bobbie Gross 61%

Don’t know/not sure 31%

Neither of them 4%



Q: Which of the following candidates for Mesa County Sheriff do you feel will do the best job at rejecting political extremism?

Bob Dalley 2%

Todd Rowell 58%

Don’t know/not sure 38%

Neither of them 2%



Democratic Party Primary – Third Congressional District race


Q: Which of the following candidates for U.S. Representative of the Third Congressional District do you feel will do the best job at rejecting political extremism?

Frisch 19%

Sandoval 18%

Walker 2%

Don’t know/not sure 60%

Neither of them 1%




Findings, Implications and Recommendations


Key Findings


Republican Party Primary – State and Congressional District races

• There was a noticeable split between the Third Congressional District Race and all other races in the degree of candidate knowledge respondents demonstrated. In the Third District race, only 1 percent reported they did not know or were unsure of which candidate would do the best job. In the state-wide races, there was a high degree of uncertainty, with between 36 and 64 percent reporting that they did not know or were unsure.

• Among all races surveyed, Don Coram, running in the Republican Party for Congress had a significantly higher preference than any other candidate, with 96 percent of the respondents selecting him. The second most selected candidate in a state race was Secretary of State candidate Pam Anderson with 34 percent of the respondents selecting her.


Republican Party Primary: Mesa County down-ballot races

• In the Republican primary races for Mesa County down ballot races, there were clear winners. Respondents were clear about who they did not want to see win.

• However, a sizeable number of respondents were not familiar with the candidates. Between 30 to 38 percent reported they didn’t know or were unsure which candidate would do a better job.


Democratic Party Primary: Third Congressional District race

• The majority of respondents did not know or were unsure of which candidate would do the best job of rejecting extremism.

• Of those who prefer a candidate, Adam Frisch and Sol Sandoval are virtually tied, with 1 percent separating them.


Implications:

• It is likely that a sizeable number of respondents were motivated to respond to the survey because of the Republican Primary for U.S. Representative in the Third Congressional District. It was the only race where there was virtually no uncertainty about which candidate would do the best job. Only one percent reported not knowing or being unsure. All other races had DK/unsure levels at or above 30 percent.

• Why were the “Don’t know/unsure” levels were so high? From the emails we receive, Restore the Balance endorsers seem knowledgeable about political issues. There may be three possible explanations:

o They have pursued information about candidates only in the race about which they are most concerned: The Republican race for U.S Representative in the Third Congressional District.

o While they reject extremism in general, they do not seek out information about the candidates, especially on the state level.

o Finally, the respondents – Democrats and Republicans alike – might have little faith these Republican candidates would win in November, given Colorado’s status as a blue state. Therefore, spending time researching candidate positions would not be a good use of their time.


More research is needed to understand this issue.


Recommendations:

With less than a month before the June 28 deadline, there is a need for Restore the Balance endorsers to familiarize themselves with the candidates, especially those running for state-wide office. Visiting candidates’ web sites is a good starting point, but citizens might also consider going beyond what candidates say about themselves. Seek out reporting from trusted news sites. While any media has some degree of bias, most are less biased than the candidates themselves.


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