Our latest polling conducted between June 15th and June 19th across Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin has found majorities of respondents who voted for Trump in 2016 believing that his presidency had “exceeded” their expectations relative to when they voted for him. In Michigan, which Trump won by a margin of less than 11,000 votes in 2016, responses are more nuanced. 42% of Michiganders who supported Trump in 2016 believe his Presidency has exceeded their expectations, and 43% state that it has met their expectations.
Although Michigan is an outlier (currently suffering the second worst unemployment rate in the country), many of Trump’s 2016 voters clearly are pleased or, at the very least, satisfied with how the President they voted for four years ago has performed in office. It seems reasonable to suggest, therefore, that the sitting President can still rely on a strong electoral base. Further evidence for the continued support Trump has among his core supporters was indicated in the responses to a question we asked to those who indicated they will vote for Donald Trump on 3rd November: How enthusiastic, if at all, are you about voting for him? In response to this question, between 52-61% of committed Trump 2020 voters across the swing states answered that they were “very enthusiastic” about voting for him.
In stark contrast, a range of only 34-45% of likely Biden voters in these states said they felt ‘very enthusiastic’ about casting their vote for the former Vice President later this year.
The reasons for the lack of enthusiasm among Biden supporters can vary. Some obvious reasons may be that voters had supported a different candidate within the crowded Democratic primary field, or that those respondents do not particular care for Biden as much as they care for voting the current incumbent out.
Additional information about Biden’s inability to inspire the Democrat base is also indicated within the fact that, in all six states, an overwhelming majority of those who intend on voting for Joe Biden on November 3rd stated that their vote for Biden was primarily being cast out of opposition to Trump, rather than support for Biden.The former Vice President’s struggle to embed enthusiasm within committed 2020 Democrat voters will be a warning sign for his campaign team, especially as they work to convince members of the public who currently do not know how to case their vote. Moreover, although it is still an early stage in the campaign, the lack of enthusiasm for Biden may suggest that voter turnout in the election could be low, especially given other extenuating circumstances such as the coronavirus.
Republican enthusiasm for Trump and his re-election bid is clearly a reflection of the way in which respondents assess their position in life relative to four years ago. In all six states, a large majority of respondents who had voted for Trump in 2016 describe themselves as “better off” than they were at the start of the President’s mandate. By comparison, former Clinton supporters are more likely to say that they are “worse off” now than they were four years ago. In Florida in particular, 45% of those who had voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 stated that their livelihoods have declined in the past four years.
Respondents’ assessment of their own position thus appears to follow partisan lines. The question remains whether these perceptions are the product of mere cognitive bias or rather the result of tangible policies implemented by Trump that benefit his supporters to the detriment of his detractors.
Overall, our findings indicate that those who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 in these six swing states remain generally satisfied with their voting decision as the 2020 election approaches. They are also more likely to think their lives have improved in the past four years. However, it is still unclear whether holding on to a large majority of his 2016 voters will be enough to allow Trump to win re-election, especially given the narrow margins of his victories in the Midwest. Indeed, voting intentions across the six states indicate that Biden is currently in the lead. Nevertheless, as we have discussed, making predictions on the election result at this stage would be unwise.