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Are Candidates' Wives Key to a Campaign?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Voters aren’t attaching as much importance to the presidential candidates’ spouses as they did eight years ago.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 46% of Likely U.S. Voters rate their perception of the candidate’s spouse as important to how they will vote for president this year. But that includes only 15% who say it’s Very Important.

That’s a noticeable overall drop from the last time we asked this question during the 2008 presidential campaign. At that time, 61% considered their perception of the candidate’s spouse important to their vote, with 22% who said it was Very Important.

Fifty-two percent (52%) now say their view of the candidate’s wife or husband is not important to their vote this year, compared to 38% eight years ago. The new finding includes 21% who say it’s Not At All Important. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Fifty-two percent (52%) of women still say their perception of the spouse is important to their vote, but that compares to only 39% of men.

Voters are evenly divided when asked if spouses campaigning for their husband or wife should receive the same media scrutiny as other senior campaign officials: 43% say yes, down from 52% in 2008, while another 43% say no. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on March 28-29, 2016 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted byPulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Fifty-three percent (53%) of Democrats – and 36% of all voters – said in late December that former President Bill Clinton will help his wife’s run for the White House.

There is general partisan agreement when it comes to whether spouses who are active in a campaign should receive the same level of scrutiny as other senior campaign officials.

But Republicans (51%) attach slightly more importance to a candidate’s spouse than Democrats (47%) do when it comes to how they will vote this fall. For 60% of voters not affiliated with either major party, the spouse is unimportant to their vote.

Given the current spat between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz over their wives, it will be interesting to see if this higher level of GOP concern has any impact on the contest between the two.

Rasmussen Reports' latest weekly Trump Change survey finds that 84% of Republicans think Trump is likely to win their party’s nomination this year, with 53% who say it’s Very Likely. We’ll be updating those numbers on Friday.

Senior citizens and blacks rate a presidential candidate’s spouse as more important than younger voters, whites and other minorities do.

Democrats have found that accusing Republicans of a “war on women” is an effective political strategy, particularly in attracting young women voters. But just 22% of voters think there is really a political “war on women” going on.

Democrats are more certain than ever that Hillary Clinton will be their party’s presidential nominee this November.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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