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RUSSIAN-SPEAKING VOTERS ACROSS THE UNITED STATES AND THE 2016 ELECTIONS

While About A Half of Immigrant Voters From Former Soviet Countries Favor Donald Trump, A Significant Minority – About A Quarter – Will Vote Or Already Voted For Hillary, And Their Share In The Swing States May Be Slightly Higher

Opinion poll by Russian-Speaking Americans’ Research Group
Press Release and Executive Summary

In October 2016, several Russian-speaking nonprofit organizations and media companies (including the nationwide American Russian-speaking Association for Civil & Human Rights and Denver-based Russian-language weekly Vestnik) formed a joint nonpartisan research unit – Russian-speaking Americans’ Research Group. The purpose of this group is to measure and report on the political attitudes and behaviors of immigrants/new Americans from former Soviet countries. We are proud to release our first product, a survey of Russian-speaking/ex-Soviet/Eurasian voters across the United States.

The survey was conducted from 10/24 to 11/4/2016, with a random sample of 265 individuals across 25 states, including the swing states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Colorado, Arizona, Wisconsin, Iowa, as well as New York, New Jersey, California, Washington, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Texas, Ohio, Minnesota, Oregon, Connecticut, Alaska, Missouri, Tennessee, and Kansas. Respondents included natives of 9 out of 15 post-Soviet nations: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Moldova, Georgia, and Lithuania (around 30% of all U.S. voters participating in the survey were born in Ukraine, 28% in Russia, and 28% in other countries of the region).
Below are some of the key highlights of the data yielded by this survey:

1. Out of the total number of those who responded to our survey, 79% were identified as potential voters, i.e. those eligible to vote in the U.S. who also did not state that they were not voting in principle. Of this group, 73% were planning to vote on November 8, while another 13% had already voted. Only 3% percent stated that they were not going or most likely not going to vote this year, and an equal number were still undecided.

2. 53.3% of voters in the survey who expressed their preferences either planned to vote or had already voted for Donald Trump, or were leaning toward this decision. Meanwhile, 24.4% either planned or had already voted for Hillary Clinton or were inclined to vote for her. 20% of Russian-speaking voters had not made their decision yet.

3. Among voters younger than 60, the extent of support for both candidates was higher: 27% were planning to vote and another 4% were inclined to vote for Hillary. 47% of voters in this age group were planning to vote for Trump and 9% were leaning toward him, while only 7% were undecided.

4. However, among Russian-speaking voters living in the swing states only (the 11 states that are viewed as competitive in this election, namely, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Iowa), among respondents based in these states, the share of Clinton supporters was higher than across the country on average, while Trump’s was lower: 25.4% of Russian-speaking voters in these states favored Clinton, while 41.3% were going to vote Trump.

5. Both pro-Trump and pro-Clinton respondents showed high levels of concern with U.S. foreign policy: 72% of Trump Russian-speaking supporters and 62.5% of Clinton’s cited foreign policy as an issue that was of great importance to them in the upcoming elections. Other issues, including taxes, health care, law and order, received less attention from respondents. However, among Hillary’ Russian-speaking supporters, foreign policy shared its position as the primary concern with the issue of candidate’s personal reputation and behavior: those concerned with the candidate’s personality amounted to 62.5% of Clinton supporters. Meanwhile, among Trump supporters less than a half – just 45% – listed the candidate’s behavior and reputation as one of their primary concern in the upcoming election.

6. While most respondents report using both Russian- and English-language media as their information source, the share of those who rely on Russian-language media only is significantly higher among Trump supporters – 24%, compared to just 12% of Clinton supporters. 41% of Clinton’s Russian-speaking supporters identified only English-language media as their information source; meanwhile, among Trump supporters, those using only English-language media was less than a quarter and slightly less than the share of his supporters relying only on Russian-language media. Among those who mentioned only Russian-language media as their source of information on the campaign, 58% were going to vote for Trump versus merely 14% either planning to vote for Hillary or leaning toward her.

7. As to the congressional elections, 45% of Russian-speaking voters were planning to vote for a Republican candidate and another 5% were inclined to do so. The share of Russian-speaking voters committed to voting for a Democrat stood at 15%, with another 3% leaning Democratic. Meanwhile, a total of 23% were either not planning to vote for a congressional candidate or had not made up their minds about it.

8. When asked about their choice in the previous presidential election of 2012, 27% of those polled indicated that they had voted for Obama, while 37% had voted for Mitt Romney. 13% reported that they did not vote in 2012 and another 10% were not yet eligible to vote in those elections.

This survey was conducted on landline as well as cellular phones. Respondents were approached on the basis of their last names by phones in the national Yellow Pages, as well as through our organizations’ mailing lists and phone banks. We used the latest available American Community Survey data on the language spoken at home by ability to speak English for the population 5 years and older (1-year estimates of 2015 and 5-year estimates of 2014), broken down by states and major cities to develop a polling sample that best approximates the distribution of Russian-speaking and other post-Soviet/Eurasian immigrant voters across the country. The survey’s confidence interval is 95% and the margin of error is approximately +/-6%.

Further research and analysis of the Russian-speaking and other immigrant communities from the region is necessary to develop a full picture of America’s immigrant diversity and the aspirations of its naturalized citizens across ethnicities and races. Unfortunately, the availability of disaggregated data for research on immigrants from the former Soviet bloc is extremely limited, partly because, unlike all other major immigrant, racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants from the region are typically lumped together with ‘whites’ on most of U.S.Census forms, except for some American Community Survey questionnaires and are not identified in any manner at all in Current Population Survey (CPS). This points to the need to modify the ethnic classification in all U.S.Census and Department of Labor forms to account for the large group of immigrants from the 21 countries of the former Soviet bloc.
The Russian-speaking Americans’ Research Group plans to continue its work on election polls and other related projects.

OUR RESEARCH TEAM:
Dr. Dmitri Daniel Glinski (New York, NY)
Dr. Natalia Mironova (Los Angeles, CA)
Vladimir Lepler (Denver, CO)
Dr. Igor Kokarev (Santa Monica, CA)
Dr. Igor Mandel (New York, NY)
Svetlana Novikova (Princeton, NJ)
Natalia Vasilyeva (Juniper, FL)
Lyubov Vershinina (New York, NY)

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