POLITICS
02/14/2017 08:04 am ET | Updated Feb 14, 2017

HUFFPOLLSTER: Here's All The Valentine's Day Polling You Never Knew You Needed

Fewer hearts, more charts.

jane via Getty Images

We take a data-driven dive into Valentine’s Day. President Trump is seen as strong, but not trustworthy. And voters along the Texas-Mexico border may not be too enthusiastic about a wall. This is HuffPollster for Tuesday, February 14, 2017.

WHETHER OR NOT YOU HAVE A DATE FOR TONIGHT, AT LEAST YOU’LL HAVE DATA - According to a 2014 CBS poll, a 52 percent majority of Americans think flowers make the best romantic present, with 18 percent picking perfume, 16 percent naming candy, and 8 percent opting for lingerie. That finding, however, barely scratches the surface of Valentine’s Day polling. In honor of the holiday, HuffPollster has compiled some of the most interesting, and occasionally inexplicable, questions pollsters have asked in the past 30 years. All stats courtesy of the Roper Center polling archives.

-1988, Parents Magazine: “Which of the following activities would you least like to be doing on  Valentine’s Day?” (40% serving as a juror on a divorce trial, 20% dining in a romantic restaurant alone, 35% having to watch eight hours of Love Boat reruns, 6% not sure)

-1989, Parents Magazine, in a survey of women: Would Donald Trump be a perfect companion for Valentine’s Day, would he be acceptable but not your first choice, or would you not want to spend Valentine’s Day with this person?” (7% perfect companion, 27% acceptable but not first choice, 57% not want to spend day, 8% no answer.)

-1999, Maritz AmeriPoll, in a survey of those who don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day: Why don’t you celebrate Valentine’s Day?” (30% nobody to celebrate with, 15% not a real holiday/Hallmark holiday, 11% Think it’s silly/unimportant, 21% don’t believe in it, 23% other)

-2000, Fox News, in a survey of women:If you could choose one of the 2000 presidential candidates, which one would you choose to be your Valentine: George W. Bush, John McCain, Bill Bradley, Al Gore, Alan Keyes?” (21% Gore, 19% Bush, 8% McCain, 8% Bradley, 15% not sure. Despite the following choices not being included in the survey, 17% of women volunteered the answer “Are you kidding,” and another 12% the answer “Ugh.”)

-2002, LavaLife: “Will you buy a Valentine’s gift for your pet animal? (10% yes, 59% no, 30% do not have a pet. Of those who said yes, 22% planned to spend more on their pet than their significant other.)

-2002, Fox News: “Which couple do you think will have a happier Valentine’s Day―George and Laura Bush or Bill and Hillary Clinton?” (73% George and Laura Bush, 12% Bill and Hillary Clinton, 10% not sure. 5% volunteered that both couples would be equally happy.)

-2013, CBS News: “How would you feel about meeting your first Valentine in person?” (44% I like the idea and would look forward to it, 25% it wouldn’t be a good idea and I would dread it, 18% I’m still with my first Valentine today, 13% don’t know/know answer)

-2014, Fox News: “Which is more important when choosing someone to be your Valentine―finding someone who shares your political views or finding someone who shares your sense of humor?” (7% political views, 80% sense of humor. 7% volunteered that they’d require both, 3% cared about neither, and another 3% weren’t sure)

More of the latest Valentine’s-related findings:

-Only fools rush in, according to a mathematical model of love. [WSJ]

-Two-thirds of Americans believe in soulmates. [Monmouth]

-The general public thinks Valentine’s Day is overrated, while those in a relationship think it’s romantic. [YouGov]

-Men expect to go out to dinner or spend money on Valentine’s Day, while women think they’ll watch a romantic comedy ― and everyone thinks they’ll go to bed early. [PRRI]

-Americans name love as the most important reason for getting married. [Pew]

TRUMP SCORES WELL ON STRENGTH AND KEEPING PROMISES, LESS ON HONESTY AND EFFECTIVENESS - Frank Newport: “Majorities of Americans believe President Donald Trump keeps his promises, is a strong and decisive leader, and can bring about changes the country needs. Trump scores worse on other characteristics and qualities: Less than half of Americans perceive him as honest and trustworthy, able to manage the government effectively, inspiring confidence and caring about the needs of people like themselves….Republicans have become more positive about Trump generally since the election...Democrats’ pre-election ratings have generally stayed the same or edged slightly lower since he became president….Americans’ acknowledgment of Trump’s dynamic leadership style and keeping his promises has not translated into the same level of overall approval of his performance as president, either because of these style considerations or because Americans disagree with the substance of his policy decisions.” [Gallup]

Gallup

Do Trump’s ratings have a floor? - SurveyMonkey’s Mark Blumenthal: “One striking characteristic of Trump’s initial job rating is the relative intensity of disapproval. In our most recent full week of tracking, for example, far more Americans strongly disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job (41 percent) than strongly approve (29 percent)....As noted in our analysis of the first SurveyMonkey poll of the Trump presidency, that softer support rests on a combination of hope and partisanship. Among those who only somewhat approved of Trump during his his first week, 73 percent said his inauguration made them feel hopeful, but only 15 percent said they were excited and only 12 percent were proud. The majority of these soft approvers are Republican….Among Trump’s soft supporters, the gap is especially pronounced between an appreciation for his outspoken toughness and desire to get things done, on the one hand, and a lack of honesty, empathy and the ability to inspire on the other…. if the initial flurry of executive action gives way to gridlock and legislative stagnation, perceptions of Trump’s ability to ‘get things done’ may atrophy, and with it, his overall approval rating.” [HuffPost]

Are Trump’s ratings a problem for Republicans? Nathaniel Rakich: “ Typically — even following bitter elections — incoming presidents enjoy a honeymoon period after the country rallies around its new leader (and before the opposition begins to coalesce)....Trump’s historic unpopularity provides a glimmer of hope to Democrats, who are currently shut out of power in every elected division of the federal government….[C]an poor approval ratings today really help predict an election that’s 21 months away? The answer is a big fat ‘maybe.’ If Trump is this unpopular when the midterms come around, Democrats could be in for a good night. But Trump has already broken the traditional mold of presidential approval, making it hard to say where his popularity will go from here.”  [538]

VOTERS ON THE TEXAS-MEXICO BORDER DIDN’T BACK TRUMP - Roque Planas and Adam Hooper: “One of President Donald Trump’s first actions in office was to order the expansion of the fence on the U.S.-Mexico border, arguing that he was fulfilling a campaign promise. But many of those who will have to live alongside the wall don’t see a need for it, and a precinct-by-precinct tabulation of voting results from Texas shows they voted overwhelmingly for Clinton. Some 701,000 ballots were cast in Texas precincts within 100 miles of the border. In those precincts, twice as many voters picked Clinton as Trump….The Texas data reveals a more extreme but consistent version of what happened along the rest of the borderlands. While Trump won two out of the four states that touch the U.S.-Mexico border, Clinton won more than 60 percent of the counties that touch the border itself.” [HuffPost]

“DON’T BE SO QUICK TO LAUGH” AT A POLL ON A FICTITIOUS MASSACRE - Natalie Jackson: “Just over half of those who support President Donald Trump said that the fictional ‘Bowling Green Massacre’ shows why Trump’s executive order on immigration is necessary, according to a new poll out from Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling.  That makes a splashy headline, and it’s catnip for liberals who want to laugh at how stupid they think Trump supporters are. But it’s not good polling practice and should not be reported without substantial caveats about how the question was written and likely perceived by respondents….. The question wasn’t even about whether people believed the fictional massacre happened ― that was simply asserted as a fact….There’s considerable research on how average people answer poll questions when they might not really know what the question refers to. Some will admit that they don’t know the answer ― as 20 percent of the whole sample and 23 percent of Trump supporters did in this case. But many will think they should have an answer, and say the first thing that comes to mind. This is part of why polling on specific policies is difficult ― people often haven’t given issues a lot of thought, but when prompted, they will make up an opinion.” [HuffPost]

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TUESDAY’S ‘OUTLIERS’ - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Most Americans now think the U.S. is viewed unfavorably abroad. [HuffPost]

-Polls show that most Republicans don’t know much about Steve Bannon. [HuffPost]

-Pew Research takes a granular look at how Americans read and respond to online news. [Pew Journalism]

-Mississippi keeps its standing as the most religious state, with Vermont as the least religious. [Gallup]

-Scott Clement examines Americans’ complicated feelings about President Trump’s travel ban. [WashPost]

-Erin Pinkus and Mark Blumenthal break down the demographics of participants in the women’s march. [Survey Monkey]

-Nate Silver argues that Hillary Clinton’s ground game didn’t cost her the election. [538]

-Katie Forster recaps a study that shows there’s no correlation between immigration and increased level of crime. [Independent]

-Global Strategy Group (D) and Garin Hart Yang (D) lay out a memo on reaching people who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. [Priorities USA]

-Jacob Brogan interviews Democratic pollster Jim Gerstein. [Slate]

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