Heading into tonight’s first Republican primary debate, all eyes are on the highest polling candidates in the race – Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, and Scott Walker.

As Trump ascended the polls this summer, Resonate surveyed 6,508 potential Republican Primary voters to find out what matters most when backing a candidate.  Here’s a quick glance of who they are and what they care about. To say they are different is an understatement.


Demographically, none of the three candidates are winning over Millennials – though Trump has a slight edge – 22% of his supporters are 25-34.  Bush’s supporters are evenly distributed among voters over the age 25, with a slight bump with those who are 45+. Meanwhile, Scott Walker’s supporters skew older, 55% of whom are 55+.

The Tea Party EffectRepublican Party Primary Voter - Tea Party

The Tea Party is most aligned with Walker, 36% of whose supporters associate themselves with the movement. Compare that to only 10% of Bush supporters and 17% of Trump supporters who feel the same way. Only Walker has more supporters who identify with the movement than those who do not.


In keeping with the Tea Party’s focus on fiscal responsibility, it’s not surprising to see Government Spending is the keystone of Walker’s base.  In fact, 59% say it’s critical when backing a candidate.  That is 11% more than the average Republican aggregate. Walker’s supporters are also more like-minded and polarized than the rest of the field. They agree on what’s important; they definitively coalesce around Immigration policy and Reducing the Deficit.  And they agree on what to sacrifice; Bipartisanship and Environmental Policy garnered only single-digit attention.

But the low ranking of Bipartisan support is not exclusive to Walker supporters.  Only 7% of Trump supporters say it is a top issue for them. But his supporters are distinctly concerned with Healthcare Reform and Job Creation compared to other candidates’ supporters.

Traditional GOP issues such as Fiscal Policies and Military/Defense are front and center with Bush’s supporters. But even his base holds a unique identifier, 34% ranking Education Policy as a key issue.  Education ranks low for Walker and middle of the pack for Trump supporters.

Political Engagement

Republican Party Primary Voter - Engaged

All the data, outreach, and campaigning in the world means nothing if people don’t take action.  There is a large difference in the degree of political engagement (following issues, attending events, volunteering, and donating) between the candidates’ support bases. Here, the advantage goes to Walker – 29% of whose supporters are Informed, Invested, or Influential, compared to just 11% for Bush and Trump.

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The data featured in this blog is a sneak peek of what will soon be available for online targeting campaign analytics.  We’ll be keeping close tabs on changes in candidate support, issue positions, and engagement across the country – actionable for campaigns from President to City Council.

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