Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Obama Weathers the Wright Storm, Clinton Faces Credibility Problem.

Section 3: Voters Targeted by Robo-Calls

Pre-recorded campaign calls, or “robo-calls,” have become the leading form of campaign communication in the 2008 primary season, topping even mass mailings as the most frequent type of campaign communication received by voters. Nationwide, 39% of voters say they have received a pre-recorded call about the campaign, up from 25% in November. This is slightly higher than the number saying they have received mailings about the candidates (36%), and much higher than the percentage saying they have received a telephone call from a live person (16%).

Not surprisingly, the rates of contact are even higher in the states that have already conducted their primary or caucus contests. Fully 44% of voters in these states say they have received a robo-call; 41% say they have received mail about a candidate; and 19% say they have received a personal call. Contact rates in the smaller number of states that have yet to hold their contests are substantially lower.

There are no significant differences across party lines in reports of campaign contacts. Comparable percentages of Republican, Democratic and independent voters say they have received campaign robo-calls (42%, 38% and 43%, respectively). The same is true when it comes to receiving mail about the candidates and receiving calls from a live person.

Campaign Contributions and Attending Events

However, there are substantial partisan differences in voters’ campaign activities, with Democrats – particularly liberal Democrats – more likely than Republicans to say they have donated money to a candidate or attended a campaign event.

Overall, just 9% of registered voters report having made a contribution to a presidential candidate in this campaign, which is virtually unchanged from November (8%). Far more Democrats than Republicans say they have made a campaign contribution (12% vs. 7%). And the gap is even wider when ideology is taken into account. Nearly one-in-five liberal Democrats (19%) say they have made a contribution to one of the candidates. This compares with just 6% of conservative Republicans, who in past election cycles have typically matched their liberal Democratic counterparts in self-reported donations.

Similarly, Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to say they have attended a campaign event during this election: 10% of Democrats say they have attended such an event compared with 5% of Republicans. Fully 15% of liberal Democrats report having attended a campaign event, compared with 8% of moderate or conservative Democrats. Conservative Republicans, on the other hand, are the least likely to report having attended a campaign event (4%).

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