Voters Say Those on the Other Side ‘Don’t Get’ Them. Here’s What They Want Them To Know

December 17 2020

BY AMINA DUNN, JOCELYN KILEY, ALISSA SCHELLER, CHRIS BARONAVSKI AND CARROLL DOHERTY

Pew Research Center conducted this study to learn how well Biden and Trump voters think those who voted for the other candidate understand people like them – and what they would like those with differing political preferences to know to understand them better. We surveyed 11,818 U.S. adults in November 2020, including 10,399 U.S. citizens who reported having voted in the November election.

All respondents who supported Joe Biden or Donald Trump in the November election were asked:

As you know, tens of millions of Americans supported a different candidate for president than you did in this past election. Thinking about the ordinary Americans who voted for [if Trump voter: Joe Biden/if Biden voter: Donald Trump], how well, if at all, do you think they understand people like you? Very well, somewhat well, not too well, not at all well

Everyone who did not say those voters on the other side understood them “very well” was then asked to answer a follow up question in their own words:  

What is something you would like [Biden/Trump] supporters to know about you so they might understand you better? This can be about politics, but it doesn’t have to be.

Of the more than 10,000 responses to the open-ended question collected, a random approximately half (5,248) were coded for this analysis. This interactive presents a sampling of the responses offered by those who voted for Joe Biden or Donald Trump in the November election. There are a total of 300 “dots” shown in the interactive, and the highlighted dots proportionally represent the share of voters speaking to each of the themes that were coded for.

Everyone who took part in this survey is a member of Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology.

Here are the questions used for the report, along with responses, and its methodology.

Notes: Based on voters. Open-ended question. Open-end responses coded for multiple responses. Verbatim responses edited only for spelling and grammar. Age and gender of respondents are self-reported.
Source: Survey of U.S. adults conducted Nov. 12-17, 2020.

Additional thanks to Sara Atske, Brooke Auxier, Aidan Connaughton, Andrew Daniller, Hannah Hartig, Hannah Gilberstadt, David Kent, Colleen McClain, Travis Mitchell, Andrew Perrin, Meera Ramshankar and Allie Sandstrom