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Polling Matters
Election 2016 in Context
Polling Matters

Election 2016 in Context

Today we are introducing the Presidential Election 2016: Key Indicators section, a destination on that combines a variety of important measures that collectively provide context for this year's election.

The broadest context is provided by the section listing Americans' Issue Priorities for the next president, and the section displaying what Americans consider to be the most important problem facing the nation. The former will be updated periodically, and the latter will be updated each month. These updates give us (and hopefully the candidates) the best sense of the broad concerns of the American people and, by extension, the issues and policies that the people want the candidates to address.

Two other broad contextual measures are our monthly update of the level of satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S., and President Barack Obama's job approval rating, which is updated weekly. Both of these measures provide an excellent gauge of the sentiment of the people and thus the playing field on which the election is taking place.

Each month, we are updating a series of measures designed to track how the election is being perceived by the people themselves, as opposed to the conclusions reached by pundits, journalists and other news media and online observers. These measures include attention being paid to the campaign, perceptions of whether any of the candidates running would make a good president, feelings about the way in which the election process is being conducted, views on whether the candidates are talking about issues that Americans care about and a measure of whether any candidates have come up with good ideas for solving the problem considered to be most important. Each of these measures includes updates for the entire national adult population as well as among Republicans and Democrats.

We are also monitoring the images of the presidential candidates among Americans as the campaign plays out and each day will update the net favorable ratings of the candidates based on a seven-day rolling average.

As the campaign progresses, we will add additional indicators, particularly those relating to how the issue positions taken by the candidates are being received by the public.


Frank Newport, Ph.D., is a Gallup Senior Scientist. He is the author of Polling Matters: Why Leaders Must Listen to the Wisdom of the People and God Is Alive and Well. Twitter: @Frank_Newport

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