While Election Day is still several days away, many states already have had thousands of ballots returned and counted ahead of time. In Indiana, more than one million ballots have already been returned by mail or given early in-person, according to the U.S. Elections Project. While hundreds of thousands of people will still turn out to the polls on Election Day, nationwide and state specific polls are already attempting to call the election.
SurveyUSA, an A-rated pollster according to FiveThirtyEight's pollster ratings, conducted a poll that predicted many Indiana races may be closer than some people think. The poll focused specifically on Indiana and surveyed 900 Hoosier adults, 757 of whom are registered voters.
IU alumnus Andrew Ellison organized the crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the poll. In September, Ellison said he and others noticed that libertarian gubernatorial candidate Donald Rainwater gained a large number of supporters, but national polls did not reflect this. He said this was one of the main reasons getting funding for this poll was so important and that it was important to see the nuanced views of Hoosiers.
“It was really important to get this poll done because national polls don’t necessarily reflect the feelings of Indiana residents,” Ellison said. “This is likely the only A-rated FiveThirtyEight poll in Indiana during this election.”
In order to raise the money, Ellison started a GoFundMe page. Within a week they raised their goal of $6,900 and were able to contact SurveyUSA about commissioning the poll, he said. While SurveyUSA dictated some questions in order to get a full array of opinions on specific races, Ellison was able to have a say in about half of the questions.
If the election was held today, 49% of 527 respondents said they would vote for President Donald Trump, 42% said they would vote for Joe Biden and 6% said they are still undecided. While Trump is still polling seven points higher than Biden, this is a much closer race than in 2016.
“It’s very interesting because Trump won Indiana in 2016 by 19 points, but now he’s only up by seven,” Ellison said. “It’s interesting Joe Biden seems to be doing well, it could mean Indiana is starting to lean to the left.”
The poll asked 259 Trump voters if their vote was more for Trump or against Biden, and 82% of these voters said their vote was for Trump and 16% said their vote was against Biden. When 220 Biden voters were asked if their vote was more for Biden or against Trump, 56% said their vote was for Biden and 39% said their vote was against Trump.
The poll also collected data about Indiana’s gubernatorial and attorney general elections.
If the election was held today 55% of 527 likely voters said they would vote for Republican candidate Gov. Eric Holcomb, 25% said they would vote for Democratic candidate Woody Meyers and 10% said they would vote for Libertarian candidate Donald Rainwater.
Indiana will also elect a new attorney general. Out of the same number of likely voters, 48% said they would vote for Republican Todd Rokita, 35% said they would vote for Democrat Jonathan Weinzapfel and 10% said they are still undecided.
It was important to not only ask about important election races, but also to ask about important issues to the voters, Ellison said. In order to gauge this, Ellison drafted several questions in the poll based on issues in Indiana. Voters were asked about what issues were most important to them when casting their ballots. They were also asked about hot political topics such as Roe v. Wade, mask mandates and marijuana legalization.
“Learning about where people stand on these issues is really important,” Ellison said. “It helped give a lot of insight into where adults in Indiana stand on a lot of major races and issues that might affect their vote.”
When asking about what issues were most important in casting a 2020 ballot, respondents were given five options to choose from: the economy, health care, COVID-19, racial inequalities and crime and safety. Out of 527 registered voters, 38% reported the economy as the most important issue, 21% reported healthcare as most important, 20% reported COVID-19, 13% reported crime and safety as most important and 4% reported racial inequities as the most important issue when casting their ballot.
When 900 Indiana adults were sampled and asked how they felt about the continued requirement for Indiana residents to wear masks, 52% said they strongly approved of the requirement, 23% said they somewhat approved, 11% said they somewhat disapprove, 11% strongly disapproved and 4% were unsure.
The same number of residents were sampled and asked if marijuana in Indiana should remain illegal, be legalized for medical reasons but be illegal for recreational use or be legalized for both: 53% of respondents said it should be legalized for both, 24% said it should be legal for medical reasons but illegal for recreation, 16% said it should remain illegal and 8% said they were not sure.
The poll also asked 615 residents who are familiar with the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade if it should remain the law of the land or be overturned: 58% stated it should remain the law, 27% believed it should be overturned and 15% reported they were not sure.
“It was really insightful to see how out on a limb Indiana lawmakers are when it comes to legislation on Roe v. Wade,” Ellison said. “Very few people in Indiana actually want that law to be overturned.”