Post-Election Survey Shows Partisan Polarization Persists

Republicans Still Question President’s Birthplace and Suspect Voter Fraud

PR Contact: Vige Barrie 315-859-4623
Contact: Government Professor Philip Klinkner 315-859-4344
Send questions to @pklinkne or #levittpoll

Despite the hope that President Obama’s clear victory last November might lead to a reduction in partisan polarization, the results of new survey conducted by the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center at Hamilton College indicate that American are as divided as ever. Full poll results will be released on Tuesday, May 21, at 10:30 a.m.

Key Findings

Republicans believe voter fraud played a big role in the 2012 election.

Going into the 2012 election, both Democrats and Republicans expressed concerns about the fairness of the election. Only 15 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Democrats were very confident that the election would be decided fairly.

After the election, fears about voter fraud abated among Democrats but skyrocketed among Republicans, with 58 percent of Republicans not confident at all about the fairness of the election.

Confidence Republicans Democrats
  Pre-Election Post-Election Pre-Election Post-Election
Very Confident 15 14 19 82
Somewhat Confident 52 29 53 16
Not Confident At All 33 58 28 2

Republicans are particularly concerned about voter fraud and intimidation in big urban areas, with 32 percent of them believing that it had a big impact on the election, 49 percent believing it had some impact, and only 19 percent believing it had no impact.

Birtherism is alive and well.

Since before he was elected, President Barack Obama has been dogged by rumors that he was born outside of the United States and, therefore, ineligible to serve as President.  Despite releasing his long-form birth certificate in 2011, these rumors have persisted.  In particular, between 40 and 70 percent of Republicans still believe that President Obama may have been born outside of the U.S.

Furthermore, most of those who question President Obama’s place of birth are not just expressing negative views toward him without considering the implications.  When asked in a follow-up question about whether they thought being born outside of the U.S. would make Barack Obama “ineligible under the U.S. Constitution to be president,” 72 percent of those who thought the President might have been born outside of the U.S. believed that he would be ineligible to be president.

These results suggest that a substantial portion of Republicans is inclined to accept the worst about President Obama, regardless of facts, and believe that he is not a legitimate president, making it extremely difficult for him to overcome partisan polarization. 

Survey Information

These results are from a survey conducted by the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center at Hamilton College as part of the Cooperative Congressional Elections Study(CCES).  More information on the CCES is available at http://projects.iq.harvard.edu/cces.

The CCES survey was conducted as on online survey by YouGov/Polimetrix in two waves: pre and post-election. All questions in the Hamilton component were designed by the undergraduate students in Government Professor Philip Klinkner’s Fall 2012 Political Parties and Elections course. 

The Hamilton component of the pre-election wave surveyed 1,000 people between Oct. 1 and Nov. 5, 2012.  The post-election wave surveyed 837 of the pre-election respondents between November 7 and December 9, 2012.  Margin of error for the pre-election wave is approximately +/- 3.1 percent and for the post-election wave approximately +/- 3.4 percent.

Analysis of the survey results was conducted by Hamilton students Nick Anastasi, Jack Cartwright, Matthew Creeden, Will Rusche, Jesse Stinebring, and Hashem Zikry under the supervision of Professor Klinkner.


Full polling results were released via webcast on Tuesday, May 21.

The webcast can be viewed on the following devices:

  • Computer
  • iPad
  • iPhone
  • Android/Blackberry
  • Kindle

Help us provide an accessible education, offer innovative resources and programs, and foster intellectual exploration.

Site Search