The Pew Research Center's final presidential poll released today looks much like other national likely voter surveys released in the waning hours of this epic campaign: Democrat Barack Obama leads Republican John McCain, 52 to 46 percent, Pew says, with McCain having narrowed the gap modestly over the past month.
But the survey also revealed interesting data about how the campaigns have contacted potential voters and how voters have responded to those contacts—ranging from direct mail and E-mail to automated robocalls.
Think campaigns are getting their money's worth out of the cheap but controversial practice of robocalling? According to the survey, 65 percent of all registered voters polled said they hang up when they receive an automated call and half said the calls are a "minor annoyance." Thirteen percent say the calls make them angry. But candidates may want to take note: Those coveted independent voters are the likeliest to hang up and get angry. Seventy-five percent of registered independents hang up on robocalls and 17 percent get angry.
Pew also found that McCain voters are more likely than Obama voters to receive automated calls, 63 to 57 percent, but Democrats are more apt to listen to the calls. The survey found that 39 percent of Democrats listen rather than hang up, compared with 31 percent of Republicans.
As expected, voters reported a surge in contacts by the campaigns over the past month. Political mailings, the most common tactic, increased 14 percent between October and November. Automated calls spiked 10 percent, and home visits were up by 5 percent—with 18 percent of Obama supporters reporting a home visit, compared with 10 percent of McCain supporters. Twenty-eight percent of registered voters polled said they had received E-mails from the campaign or political organizations.
And in a stark measure of what has been characterized as the "enthusiasm gap" between Obama and McCain partisans, Pew found that twice as many expected Obama voters attended a campaign event—16 percent versus 8 percent for McCain supporters.