As Democrats watched the first pair of debates, a new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll shows most of these voters are not fully tuned in: just 35% say they’re paying close attention to the primary. This week’s debates offer candidates a chance to improve their position by exciting Democratic voters, but what are these voters looking for? The AP/NORC poll suggests several attributes that make Democratic voters more excited about their choice.
Seventy-three percent of Democratic voters said a candidate who “has experience in elected office” would make them more excited to vote for that candidate. Forty percent say the same about a female candidate; 38% about one who served in the military; 36% about a younger candidate; 26% about one who “has experience running a business;” 26% about a black candidate; 25% about a Latino candidate; 20% about one who shares the same religious beliefs; 20% about a gay candidate; 17% about a transgender candidate; 17% about an Asian candidate; 12% about an older candidate; 10% about a male candidate; and just 8% about a white candidate.
Democrats are more likely to subscribe to identity politics, so it’s worth noting that half of Democratic primary voters are more excited about a black or Latino candidate, while a large number are also more excited about a woman candidate while only 12% get excited about an older candidate. Still, it is too early to count out older, white male candidates (i.e., Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders) considering that three-fourths of primary voters get excited about candidates with experience in elected office. This interesting split in preferences makes it hard to predict with certainty how this drama plays out.