Delving into survey data

The MMI team regularly conducts surveys to gather information about a variety of financial topics. Over the past few years, we have conducted original research on the topics of love and money, New Year's resolutions, college and credit, financial literacy, the economy, regifting, and tax issues. We use information from these surveys to help us create content that we hope is valuable to you (Regiftable.com and FinancialLiteracyMonth.com are great examples).

In preparation for our next survey, I took the time to review some of our past results. One thing that struck me is that we ask respondents about their political affiliation. This small detail is part of the general demographic information we gather about respondents. I have never really considered political affiliation as it relates to our survey questions before (this is quite surprising since, once upon a time, we even considered differences based on a person’s astrological sign!), so I decided to delve into the data a bit.

For the most part, there were not significant differences in how Democrats, Republicans, and Independents answer our survey questions. However, I did find that certain financial beliefs and behaviors did differ. Disclaimer: this data is provided for information purposes—I will leave you to draw your own conclusions!


From our Love and Money survey, December 2009

We asked respondents to rate a number of personal traits that could have an impact on a relationship. “Job security” was rated highly by significantly more by Democrats.

From our New Year's Resolution survey, December 2009

More Republicans than Democrats or Independents said that they set financial resolutions.

From our Back to School survey, August 2009

Significantly more Democrats than Republicans think that parents should increase savings to help with their children’s college finances.

From our Financial Literacy Month survey, May 2009

When asked what impact (if any) the economic downturn was having on their spending and saving habits, more Democrats said that they are spending more and saving less than their Republican and Independent counterparts.

From our Recession survey, May 2008

When asked to define the word “recession,” the textbook definition of “decline in economic growth” was chosen by more Republicans (37% vs. 28% of Democrats and 31% of Independents). “Decreased job security...” – which is part of the definition of a recession – was named by more Democrats (17%) and Independents (18%) than Republicans (10%).

More Democrats reported that they’re feeling an economic pinch – 91% of them say they’re affected by recent conditions compared to 84% of Republicans.

When asked what extreme sacrifices they would make if the economic downturn were to continue, those who said they would take on an additional job were primarily Democrats (48% vs. 37% of Republicans and 32% of Independents).

From our Regifting survey, October 2007

More Democrats (23% vs. 19% of Republicans and 16% of Independents) said they were considering regifting.

When asked who was likely to be on the receiving end their regift, significantly more Republicans named family members.

From our Tax Time survey, January 2007

Of those who expected to owe taxes, significantly more Republicans (69%) said they would use funds from a checking or savings account compared to Democrats (49%) or Independents (39%).


What do you think? Are the differences even worth noting?  If you were writing questions for next survey, what would you ask?

Note: All surveys were conducted by phone by the research company Cynapsus.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.