Oh, how very popular “drain the swamp” was with Donald Trump’s base out on the 2016 campaign trail. It made sense - and still does in a wishful-thinking kind of way - to folks fed up with what they see as establishment politics, liberal elitism, and pay-to-play.
With Trump now in the White House 8 months and clinging to an approval rating on life support (36% in late August and early September) folks are left to wonder just how swampy the Washington, D.C. swamp is right now.
Curious ourselves, we asked the people in our latest political demographic research campaign to let the people speak. Our survey says? The Washington swamp got swampier.
Let’s Dive into the Swamp (For Analysis)
Here’s a sample from our recent political marketing research campaign involving 3,019 respondents under age 55 across 50 key media markets nationwide. Participants represented a statistically reliable bell curve running from “very liberal” to “moderate” to “very conservative.” Older voters were excluded from this round of surveying and will later be polled as part of an ongoing research series.
Let’s highlight these trends by political leaning:
- Very liberal - 64.7% say more
- Somewhat liberal - 64.6% say more
- Moderate - 39.3% say more
- Somewhat conservative - 7.5% say more
- Very conservative - 27.6% say D.C. is less of a swamp
Notably, you’ll see only the very conservative in our wide-ranging online survey view Washington as less swampy than it was a year ago.
Let’s dig into that a little deeper, starting with some generalized gender comparisons:
- 36.7% of men believe it’s about the same of a swamp
- 34.9% of men believe it’s more of a swamp
- 27.6% of women believe it’s about the same
- 41.8% of women believe it’s more
Now deeper. Here’s how men responded by age group:
Here’s how women responded by age group:
We can break it down even further. How about by parents and those without children?
- 34.9% of respondents with children noted it’s about the same of a swamp, while 33.1% said it’s more of a swamp
- 28.3% of respondents without children noted it’s about the same of a swamp, while 45% said it’s more of a swamp
- 21.1% who prefer Fox News believe Washington today is less of a swamp
- 25.7% who prefer Fox News believe it’s more of a swamp
- 9.5% who prefer CNN believe it’s less of a swamp
- 43.5% who prefer CNN believe it’s more of a swamp
How people view Washington also varies by education level:
Our research into the topic, in addition to testing matters like media trust and fake news, could be as extensive as any political campaign strategist would require. Let’s keep shoveling:
- 14% of married/couples living together think Washington is less of a swamp
- 15.1% of white people aren’t sure
- 28.6% of black people think it’s about the same
- 52.2% with household incomes greater than $200,000 annually believe it’s more of a swamp
Candidates and campaign managers with eyes set on 2018 take notice: 43.6% of intended 2018 voters believe inside the beltway is more swampy.
The Swamp and Your Political Campaign Strategy
The reality is there are hundreds of career politicos and former lobbyists - beltway swamp monsters, some might say - working in various capacities in Trump’s administration, as this Newsweek analysis points out. Media coverage of the swamp and how it’s viewed by resident politicians, of course, differs by ideology.
Nor would anyone be surprised that the New York Observer - of which Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner was once publisher and which formally endorsed candidate Trump in the primaries - would defend the president. This opinion piece contended Trump isn’t draining the swamp because he’s drowning in it despite his best efforts. Kushner wrote an op-ed in July before the election that his father-in-law is a Rorschach test: “People see in him what they want to see.”
Indeed, and those views equal votes. In which case, political campaign strategists must use strong demographic research to gauge those perceptions and adjust accordingly. Click here to see how we can help.