CBS News Battleground Tracker: What do voters in each party want from their candidates?

The latest CBS News Battleground Tracker looks at what — and who — will motivate voters to support the candidate.

For Republican voters, a Trump-backed candidate — one that has left liberals angry — is more likely to win their vote

Trump support seen as fundamental, especially an asset among primary voters

For most Republicans, the former president’s support is a plus for the candidate, especially among those who say they “always” vote in the Republican primary, most of whom Think MAGA Republicans.

Trump’s support didn’t make much of a difference among Republicans with fewer primary voters, but overall, the former president’s support was also a net positive for this group of Republicans.

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The 2020 election remains a consideration for many Republicans

In addition to Trump himself, many Republicans want a candidate to say that President Joe Biden did not legally win the 2020 election, perhaps unsurprisingly since two-thirds of Republicans continue to say that Biden did not win legally.

By an almost four-to-one margin, Republicans are more likely — not less likely — to support a candidate who says Mr Biden won’t legally win in 2020.

Only 8 percent of Republicans were more likely to support a candidate who said Mr. Biden legally won.

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Even among Republicans who think this is true, candidates who take the public positions that Joe Biden has legally won haven’t garnered much support — and most say it doesn’t make any difference to them.

Republicans (two-thirds of whom call themselves “MAGA” Republicans) who don’t believe Mr. Biden has legally won may make up a larger share of Republican primary voters. By double digits, more people say they always vote in the Republican primary than Republicans who think Biden will indeed win in 2020.


Making Liberals Angry: The Dynamics of the GOP, Especially MAGA Republicans

For Republican voters, a candidate that angers liberals appears to be a reason to support that candidate, as is Donald Trump’s support. Fifty-three percent of Republicans said they were more likely to vote for a candidate who angered liberals, rising to 69 percent of MAGA Republicans.


We tested a range of potential candidate descriptions, including some used by congressional candidates this year. For Republicans, “MAGA Republicans” are probably the most popular, with most saying they would support a candidate who describes themselves that way. “Capitalists” will also be net positive. Calling oneself a Christian nationalist has little overall positive impact among Republicans, but has encouraged strong support among very conservative and self-proclaimed “MAGA Republicans.”


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What about January 6th?

Our opinion polls show that while most Republicans disapprove of the actions of those who forced their way into the Capitol on January 6, 2021, but their description of what happened that day did differ from voters in general. More Republicans see it as patriotism than uprising.

By 21, Republicans told us they were unlikely to vote for a candidate critical of the day’s events.



For Democratic voters, most want supporters of Biden policies, not people who make conservatives angry

Democrats more likely to support progressive Black Lives Matter supporters

Most Democratic voters are more likely to vote for candidates who say they are Black Lives Matter supporters, “social justice” Democrats or progressives, especially for those who always vote in the primary . Wanting a candidate who generally supports President Biden’s policies is more important to them than a candidate who angers conservatives, although the latter does attract more self-proclaimed progressives in the party.



The CBS News/YouGov Battleground Tracker survey was conducted July 27-29, 2022, with a nationally representative sample of 1,743 registered voters. The sample is weighted by gender, age, race, and education and current population surveys based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey, as well as the 2020 presidential election. The margin of error is ± 3.0 points.House seat estimates based on Multilevel regression and post-hierarchical models Include voters’ responses to this survey. Each party’s seat estimates have a ±12-seat margin of error.


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