As part of our polling into US attitudes on the coronavirus crisis, we asked respondents for their views on voting in person for November’s election. Less than half (43%) of Americans say they would feel comfortable voting in person in November given the coronavirus situation in the United States. However, respondents’ views have a clear partisan dimension.
In stark contrast to the overall response, a strong majority (64%) of likely Trump voters say they will feel comfortable voting in person, while just 34% of Biden voters say the same.
While it is possible that this difference demonstrates the enthusiasm and motivation of Trump’s base to get out and vote regardless of the circumstances, it is also likely a reflection of Trump voters’ stronger belief that the worst of the pandemic is now behind us. For example, whereas only 14% of likely Biden voters think the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is now behind us, this view is shared by three times as many likely Trump voters (43%).
Furthermore, while 51% of overall respondents do not agree that the coronavirus situation in the US is coming under control, only 27% of likely Trump voters feel the same. In fact, 46% of likely Trump voters feel that the situation is coming under control.
Both these responses indicate that likely Trump voters feel more optimistic how the pandemic will unfold in the coming months than likely Biden voters. This optimism might explain why they feel so much more comfortable at the prospect of in person voting in November than likely Biden voters.
Equally, Trump voters may be influenced by the President’s rhetoric around voting. Trump has been strongly opposed to expanding mail voting, a major alternative to in-person voting, arguing it would lead to greater voter fraud and prevent Republican candidates from being elected.
Finally, this result could be a reflection that the coronavirus pandemic spreads most in urban areas in comparison to the more rural areas where many likely Trump voters live. Several months away from election day, it is not clear whether the attitudes of Trump voters to in-person voting will change if the pandemic takes a further turn for the worse.