2016 Presidential Preferences of the Federal Government Community

By on May 5, 2015 in Current Events with 171 Comments

Federal employees and retirees understandably have a strong interest in political issues as election results have a direct impact on their working environment. So, while it is very early in the process of selecting the next President of the United States, more than 4000 FedSmith.com readers took the time to express their preferences among likely and declared candidates for the office.

At this stage, it is clear that readers who identify themselves as Democrats have a strong preference for Hillary Clinton as their candidate. There are many more Republican possibilities for the office so the votes are more scattered among more people.  But, among those who identify themselves as Republicans, there is a strong preference for Marco Rubio as the Republican nominee.

Several results stand out in this early survey. First, Marco Rubio has a strong lead among Republican and independent voters. He leads the rest of the Republican field among both of these voter groups. While it is not a surprise that Hillary Clinton is the strongest candidate for the Democrats, what is surprising is that almost 52% of independent voters indicated they would not vote for a Democratic candidate. Among independents, only 28% indicated they would not vote for a Republican candidate.

The survey asked respondents to state their party affiliation, if any. Here are how respondents described their affiliation (results are rounded to the nearest whole number):

  • Independent: 37%
  • Republican: 30%
  • Democrat: 26%
  • Libertarian: 3%
  • Other: 4%

71% of those responding are current federal employees and 25% are retired federal employees. Much smaller percentages are active or retired military, federal contractors or a few listed “no affiliation with the federal workforce”.

All Respondents

Among all respondents, here are the top selections for the Democratic nominee for president:

  • Hillary Clinton: 31%
  • Joe Biden: 3.9%
  • Martin O’Malley: 3.7%
  • Other: 8.3%
  • I would not vote for a Democratic candidate: 53%

Here are the results for the Republican candidate preferences among all respondents:

  • Marco Rubio: 11.6%
  • Jeb Bush: 10%
  • Ted Cruz: 8.4%
  • Mitt Romney: 6.4%
  • Rand Paul: 6.2%
  • Mike Huckabee: 4.9%
  • Chris Christie: 4.1%
  • John Kasich: 2.8%
  • Paul Ryan: 2.4%
  • Carly Fiorina: 1.9%
  • Lindsay Graham: 0.9%
  • Other: 8.7%
  • I would not vote for a Republican candidate: 31.7%

Democratic Voters

At this early stage, the preferences of party loyalists plays a major role as candidates will be running in primary contests. Among Democrats only, here are their expressed preferences for a candidate:

  • Hillary Clinton: 73%
  • Joe Biden: 6%
  • Martin O’Malley: 3.6%
  • I would not vote for a Democratic candidate: 6%
  • Other Democrat candidate: 10.7%

Republican Voters

Here are Republicans’ preferences for a candidate:

  • Marco Rubio: 20.6%
  • Jeb Bush: 13.4%
  • Ted Cruz: 14.3%
  • Mitt Romney: 10%
  • Mike Huckabee: 8.1%
  • Rand Paul: 5.96%
  • Chris Christie: 3.7%
  • Paul Ryan: 3.7%
  • Carly Fiorina: 2.7%
  • John Kasich: 3.1%
  • Lindsay Graham: 1%
  • I would not vote for Republican candidate: 1.4%
  • Other: 12.2%

Independent Voters

Elections are often determined by independent voters. Among the federal workforce, those who call themselves independent voters are the largest bloc of voters. Among independents, here are their stated preferences for the Democratic candidate:

  • Hillary Clinton: 26.8%
  • Joe Biden: 4.4%
  • Martin O’Malley: 5.6%
  • I would not vote for a Democratic candidate: 51.6%
  • Other: 1.6%

The most popular preferences among those who preferred another candidate were Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and James Webb.

Here are the preferences for a Republican candidate among these independent voters:

  • Marco Rubio: 11.7%
  • Jeb Bush: 10.5%
  • Ted Cruz: 7.5%
  • Mitt Romney: 6.4%
  • Rand Paul: 7.1%
  • Mike Huckabee: 4.9%
  • Chris Christie: 4.6%
  • John Kasich: 3.7%
  • Paul Ryan: 2.3%
  • Carly Fiorina: 2.5%
  • Lindsay Graham: 1.1%
  • Other: 9.8%
  • I would not vote for a Republican candidate: 28%

The most popular preferences among those who preferred another candidate were Scott Walker and Ben Carson.

Retired Federal Employees

Are there differences between retired federal employees and current federal employees as far as preferences between candidates? Among the two leading candidates, there are differences. Current federal employees have a slightly higher preference for Hillary Clinton. Retired federal employees have a higher preference for Marco Rubio than current federal employees.

Here are the preferences for the Democratic candidate among current and retired federal employees:

Retired Federal Employee Preferences Current Federal Employee Preferences
Hillary Clinton 29.1% Hillary Clinton 31.2%
Joe Biden 2.8% Joe Biden 3.9%
Martin O’Malley 4.6% Martin O’Malley 3.7%
I would not vote for a Democratic candidate 54.5% I would not vote for a Democratic candidate 52.8%
Other 9% Other 8.4%

These are the preferences for the Republican candidates for president among these two groups of voters:

Retired Federal Employee Preferences Current Federal Employee Preferences
Marco Rubio 14% Marco Rubio 11.58%
Jeb Bush 10.3% Jeb Bush 9.9%
Ted Cruz 7.9% Ted Cruz 8.2%
Mitt Romney 6.1% Mitt Romney 6.4%
Rand Paul 4.8% Rand Paul 6.3%
 Mike Huckabee  3.8% Mike Huckabee 4.9%
 Chris Christie  3.4% Chris Christie 4.22%
 John Kasich  3.7% John Kasich 2.6%
 Paul Ryan  1.7% Paul Ryan 2.4%
 I would not vote for a Republican candidate  32.3% I would not vote for a Republican candidate 32.1%
 Other  8.5% Other 8.5%

As the campaigns progress, we will take the pulse of the federal community. Later polls are likely to list only declared candidates and, without a doubt, events will lead to changes among the leading candidates as the time for the election gets closer.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote in this early presidential preference survey.

© 2016 Ralph R. Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ralph R. Smith.

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About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources.

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