It is a big question in this year’s Democratic presidential campaign: Is America ready for an African-American or female president? The voices and votes of Indiana residents on this issue could be critical, as Hoosiers may still have a hand in determining the Democratic presidential candidate. In the IndianaViews Survey of 400 adult Indiana residents, which was conducted the first week of March, more than 75 percent of survey participants said Sen. Barack Obama, as an African-American, could win the upcoming presidential election, while less than 60 percent believe that female candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton could win.
An interesting finding framed the context for these results. It showed that when asked whether Obama could become president and whether Hoosiers are ready for an African-American president, conservative and liberal respondents reported similarly strong beliefs. In comparison, Clinton was favored primarily by Democrats or liberals and less by conservatives or those who categorized themselves as Republicans. Additionally, more Democrats or liberals felt that Hoosiers are ready for a female president than conservatives.
“This data is very telling and gives us insight into Hoosiers’ thoughts about the Democratic candidates for President and their likelihood of becoming the Democratic nominee,” said Christina Studebaker, a Ph.D. psychologist and vice-president of ThemeVision, who helped conduct the survey. “What’s interesting about the results is that Obama is perceived similarly among different groups. He’s favored as much by conservatives as by liberals, by Republicans as by Democrats. In comparison, Clinton is favored by Democrats but not by Republicans,” she added.
The IndianaViews Survey is a collaborative effort of JEM Research Inc. and ThemeVision LLC. JEM Research, Inc., located in Valparaiso, Ind., supports marketing and trial consulting firms nationwide with data collection and project management support services. ThemeVision LLC is a trial consulting and opinion research firm based in Indianapolis that specializes in studying public perceptions of legal, political and social policy issues.
“The survey challenged participants to answer the big questions behind the presidential race based on their own opinions as well as their perceptions of public opinion,” said ThemeVision President Dennis Stolle, a Ph.D. psychologist.
When asked whether they believed Obama, as an African American, could win the upcoming presidential election, 24 percent of the respondents said yes, and 54 percent said probably yes. In comparison, when asked whether they believed Clinton, as a female, could win the upcoming presidential election, 14 percent of the respondents said yes, and 46 percent said probably yes.
Indiana residents are divided in their belief about whether most Hoosiers are ready for an African-American president. Fifty-seven percent said yes, 39 percent said no and 4 percent don’t know.
On the other hand, 53 percent of respondents believe most Hoosiers are ready for a female president, compared to 44 percent who say Hoosiers are not ready and 4 percent who don’t know.
Methodology: Results are based on telephone interviews with Indiana residents, aged 18 and older, conducted March 1- March 6, 2008. Interviews were conducted with respondents from households with listed telephone numbers. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points. The margin of sampling error is larger for subgroups used in this analysis. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.