Alignment Question Illustrative of How 2020 Election is a Referendum on Donald Trump

October 13, 2020
R&WS Research Team
Arizona | Democratic Party | Donald Trump | Florida | Joe Biden | Michigan | North Carolina | Pennsylvannia | Republican Party | US Presidential Election 2020 | Wisconsin

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In our latest round of swing state polling, we at Redfield & Wilton Strategies presented respondents with a list of issues and asked them to indicate, on a scale of 0 to 10, how closely they believed they aligned with Donald Trump’s and Joe Biden’s stance on that issue. Our findings starkly reveal the extent to which this election is primarily a referendum on President Donald Trump more so than it is a contest between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

In particular, respondents who intend to vote for Donald Trump express a greater degree of alignment with the views of their preferred candidate than they express a lack of alignment with his opponent. By contrast, respondents who say they are voting for Joe Biden express a significantly higher degree of alignment against Donald Trump than they express alignment with their candidate, highlighting that Biden’s base of support is primarily wedded together in its opposition to Donald Trump rather than united on a particular campaign platform or agenda.

Across all six swing states and nationally, more than half and sometimes close to three quarters of Donald Trump voters say they are either 9/10 or 10/10 aligned with him across a variety of issues. Looking at solely 10/10 alignment, likely Donald Trump voters are most closely aligned to the President’s views in North Carolina (46-62% of likely Donald Trump voters fully aligning with his views) and Florida (42-59%). A substantial proportion of Donald Trump’s supporters in Pennsylvania (39-56%), Michigan (36-53%) and Arizona (33-54%) are wholly aligned to his views. The President has a relatively lower degree of alignment with his supporters in Wisconsin (35-51%).

Donald Trump’s likely voters are most attracted to his stances on policing (47-61%), immigration (46-62%), free speech (46-61%), the economy (46-59%), and China (44-60%), and are relatively less aligned with his views on cultural issues (36-46%), healthcare (36-50%), religion (35-54%), and foreign policy (39-54%).

In stark contrast, more than half to two-thirds of the respondents who say they will vote for Joe Biden say they are 0/10 or 1/10 in alignment with the views of Donald Trump. Biden’s likely voters in Wisconsin (49-65%) are most vehement in their opposition to President Trump. Arizona (51-62%) is close behind. Next is Pennsylvania (47-60%), Michigan (47-59%), North Carolina (44-61%), and Florida (42%-60%).

Healthcare (59-65%), cultural issues (56-63%), immigration (56-63%), America’s history (53-59%), and religion (52-58%) are the issues in which likely Joe Biden voters wholly oppose the President, while Donald Trump’s stances appear somewhat more palatable to his opponents regarding the economy (42-51%) and China (45-52%).

Taken together (and including the respondents who say they may vote for another candidate, will not vote at all, or do not know how they will vote), Donald Trump only received a positive net score on any issue among the entire sample in two states: Florida (+7% on the economy and +1% on policing) and North Carolina (+3% on the economy). Besides the economy, the President scored relatively well on China (-6% to -2%), free speech (-9% to 0%), and policing (-9% to -1%). However, these can only be viewed positively in comparison to Donald Trump’s low scores on issues such as healthcare (-21% to -8%), cultural issues (-20% to -9%), religion (-16% to -6%), and immigration (-14% to -4%).

While Donald Trump receives total support from a high percentage of his voters, Joe Biden supporters are less likely to fully align with the views of the former Vice President. Across the six swing states, a third to half of Biden voters say they align 9/10 or 10/10 with the former Vice President’s views. In terms of 10/10 alignment, Florida (30-44%) is home to Joe Biden’s most aligned support base, closely followed by Wisconsin (26-46%), Michigan (25-47%), Pennsylvania (23-49%), and Arizona (27-44%). North Carolina (25-43%) had the lowest degree of alignment among Biden’s supporters. Altogether, across all issues and all states, likely Biden voters express a lower degree of alignment with Joe Biden than they express a lack of alignment with Donald Trump.

Healthcare (43-49%) is clearly Joe Biden’s most popular policy area among his likely voters, followed by free speech (39-44%), America’s history (33-39%), and cultural issues (33-37%). However, the former Vice-President scores notably low on China (23-30%), foreign policy (24-32%), the economy (25-32%), and religion (28-35%).

Respondents intending to vote for Trump show a significant, but, in comparison to their alignment with the President, relatively lower degree of alignment against the views of Joe Biden. In terms of 0/10 alignment, likely Donald Trump voters in Arizona (37-49%) and North Carolina (38-47%) are the most fully unaligned with Joe Biden’s views of all six states. Likely Donald Trump supporters in Michigan (32-41%), Pennsylvania (32-41%), and Florida (32-40%) appear to consider the opinions of the former Vice President somewhat more palatable. Finally, Wisconsin (27-41%) continues to be the state leaning most heavily towards Joe Biden.

Likely Donald Trump voters find Joe Biden’s views on immigration (39-49%), policing (38-47%), and China (39-44%) to be his most objectionable, while they are less opposed to his stances on the economy (30-38%), religion (27-41%), and cultural issues (32-41%).

Altogether, among our entire sample, respondents from all states who fully align with Joe Biden’s views across all issues often outweigh those who do not align with him at all. Mirroring the general opposition to President Trump, respondents in Wisconsin (-1% to +13%) were the Democrat’s strongest supporters. Interestingly, however, Florida (0% to +9%) was the next state most aligned with Joe Biden’s views, despite also being the state most aligned with President Trump’s views. Following Florida was Michigan (-3% to +8%), Pennsylvania (-5% to +9%), Arizona (-4% to +7%). North Carolina (-6% to +6%) was the state least aligned with Joe Biden’s views. It is worth noting that, in comparison to Donald Trump, fewer respondents altogether say they are 0/10 or 10/10 aligned with Joe Biden, and a higher number (sometimes double!) select a neutral 5/10 or ‘don’t know.’

On the issues, more respondents are fully aligned with Joe Biden’s stances on healthcare (+6% to +13%), free speech (+6% to +9%), cultural issues (+2% to +8%), and America’s history (+2% to +8%). Nevertheless, the views of the Democrat nominee on China (-6% to 0%), foreign policy (-3% to +3%), immigration (-3% to +3%), and policing (-3% to +4%) are relatively less popular.

In conclusion, across all issues, voters are generally aligned against Donald Trump. In particular, likely Biden voters express greater opposition to the President than they express agreement with the former Vice President, highlighting that this election will primarily be a referendum on the incumbent. Voters appear to be most aligned with President Trump’s views and opposed to Joe Biden’s in North Carolina, while the opposite is the case most clearly in Wisconsin and Michigan. Pennsylvania and Florida meanwhile fall somewhere in the middle across all results.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Follow us on Twitter

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