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Election 2016

Clinton Preferred for Experience; Sanders, for Care

Election 2016

Clinton Preferred for Experience; Sanders, for Care

Story Highlights

  • Her platform and a desire for a female president also among top reasons
  • His backers most likely to support him for his care for people

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who would like to see Hillary Clinton win the Democratic presidential nomination most frequently cite her qualifications, White House experience and care for the needs of the people as the reasons they favor her over Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Most Important Reasons for Supporting Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Nomination
What are one or two of the most important reasons why you prefer Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination? (open-ended) Among Democrats/Democratic leaners
Mar 21-23, 2016%
Capable of being president/Qualified/Experienced 29
Hillary Clinton's political background/White House experience/Bill Clinton 19
Care for and about the people/Connected to their needs 10
Hillary Clinton's a woman/Need a woman/Equal for women 9
Like/Agree with views/Good platform 8
Intelligent/Smart/Knowledgeable 8
Strong/Good leadership abilities 4
Well-versed in foreign policy/International dealings 4
Will win the election 3
Need a change/Different 3
Consistent/Stable stand by their decision 3
None/No opinion 9
Note: Responses mentioned by at least 3% are listed
Gallup

Other reasons Clinton supporters give to explain why they back her include the desire or need for a female president, her platform and overall views and her intelligence. Nine percent did not offer an opinion as to why they support the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.

These data, based on a March 21-23 Gallup poll, come as Clinton and Sanders gear up for important primary contests in Wisconsin and New York.

Gallup asked Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who said they would support Clinton or Sanders to indicate in their own words what lies behind their preference. Responses to this question were coded into major categories as displayed in the accompanying tables.

As the results show, Clinton supporters tend to cite aspects of her background and character as reasons for her supporting her. Beyond the 8% saying they like her platform, the only specific mention of issues or policy is her being well-versed in foreign policy (4%). This, however, is likely tied in to her experience as secretary of state.

More Sanders supporters reference aspects of his policy stances, such as his focus on education and college tuition (10%) and healthcare problems (4%). These are in addition to the 19% who more generally say they agree with his views.

The single most common mention about the Vermont senator, however, is that he cares about and connects with the people and their needs (22%).

Most Important Reasons for Supporting Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Nomination
What are one or two of the most important reasons why you prefer Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination? (open-ended) Among Democrats and Democratic leaners
Mar 21-23, 2016%
Care for and about the people/Connected to their needs 22
Like/Agree with views/Good platform 19
Honest/Trustworthy 16
Like his/her focus on education/College tuition views 10
Dislike or don't care for other candidate 8
He's a man/Don't want women in office 6
Capable of being president/Qualified/Experienced 5
Don't trust her/him 5
Is not controlled by corporate money/big business 5
Cares about the healthcare problems 4
Need a change/Different 3
Has more socialistic views/ways 3
Other (vol.) 3
None/No opinion 4
Note: Responses mentioned by at least 3% are listed; (vol.) = Volunteered response
Gallup

About one in six Sanders supporters say they prefer him because he is honest and trustworthy, something few Clinton supporters (1%) mention as a reason they support her. Perceptions of dishonesty were the most common responses about Clinton in a previous Gallup open-ended question among all Americans. At the same time, few Sanders supporters cite the experience (5%) that is most often mentioned by Clinton supporters (29%).

Bottom Line

Clinton supporters and Sanders supporters offer fairly different reasons why they prefer their candidate to be the Democratic nominee, mostly focusing on the candidates' relative strengths.

Clinton's supporters commonly prefer her for what she has accomplished, in terms of her résumé and job experience. Sanders' supporters more commonly mention his care for Americans' needs and his platform positions. It is unclear whether these responses reflect Democrats' principal reasons for their support of Clinton or Sanders, or if the responses largely reflect what Democrats think of first when they are asked to explain their choice in an open-ended question format.

Once the nomination is settled, supporters of the losing candidate most likely will join with supporters of the victor as he or she prepares to face the Republican nominee in the general election. And as the campaign shifts from the nomination to the general election phase, those who supported the losing candidate for the Democratic nomination will likely find reasons to embrace the Democratic nominee over the Republican.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted March 21-23, 2016, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 677 Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, including 384 who prefer Clinton as the Democratic nominee and 254 who prefer Sanders, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on Clinton's supporters, and based on results near 20%, the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. For results based on Sanders' supporters, and based on results near 20%, the margin of sampling error is ±6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how the Gallup U.S. Daily works.

Gallup

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Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/190397/clinton-preferred-experience-sanders-care.aspx
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