Wanna know the presidential preference of married Hispanic likely voters who own their own homes? Or which political party Catholic men with college degrees think better serves the needs of the middle class? Or perhaps how employed bisexuals feel about the direction of the national economy?
The answers are available in a great data-slicing tool from the news source Reuters, which polls about 11,000 Americans a month and has put the results online in an impressively customizable way. The American Mosaic Polling Explorer allows web users to parse polling data by gender, age, race, ethnicity, party affiliation, employment, marital status, sexual orientation, home ownership, religion, education, geography and other filters.
In addition to asking about the Obama-Romney race, the poll includes questions on the economy, social issues, healthcare, immigration, foreign policy and Constitutional protections. Curious about attitudes toward Russia? The polls show that 15 percent of Republican men over 60 have a strongly unfavorable view of the country, compared to only 6 percent of Democratic women under 40.
While multiple filters can be applied to drill into the data, the universe of people polled is not so great that an endless number of filters can be applied and still return statistically significant results. Divorced self-employed Jewish Democrats? Sorry – not enough data to say how that particular subgroup feels about issues.
The responses do not come from traditional telephone polls. Instead, the data is drawn primarily from online surveys – a method that typically makes statisticians cringe. But Reuters says its sampling method was carefully crafted and the responses are weighted and refined based on monthly telephone polls.
On at least one big question – who’s getting the most votes for president – Reuters’ methodology will be vindicated or repudiated in about a month’s time. In the meantime, the American Mosaic Polling Explorer offers intriguing insights into the deeply divided mosaic that makes up the United States.