In addition to Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ summer polling across six key swing states (Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin), this week our state-by-state polling was extended to Minnesota and Georgia. These two states could also be key in the 2020 Presidential Election and the battle for control of the Senate as they are showing signs of a potential flip. Hillary Clinton won Minnesota by 1.5% in 2016, yet Republicans are seeing an opportunity to re-take the state by pushing a law and order message and Trump himself has viewed the state as a target for over a year. Although President Trump won Georgia by a margin of more than 5% four years ago, Democrats believe that Stacey Abrams’ narrow loss in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race highlights the party’s progress there.
At this stage, Joe Biden currently leads Donald Trump by 9% in Minnesota with a majority (51%) of Minnesotans saying that they will vote for the former Vice President, while 42% say they will vote to re-elect President Trump. Only 5% do not know who they will vote for. In Georgia, the candidates are currently neck and neck with Donald Trump leading Joe Biden by just 1%, a gap which falls well within the margin of error of this poll. Currently, 46% of respondents in Georgia say they are going to vote for the incumbent President, while 45% think they will vote for Joe Biden. 6% of Georgia respondents don’t know who they are going to vote for.
With slightly different policies between the two states around absentee, early, and in person early voting, the methods by which respondents plan to vote varies between the two states. A clear plurality (47%) of respondents in Minnesota intend to vote in person on election day, compared to around a third (32%) in Georgia. 31% of the Georgian public intend to vote in person prior to election day, compared to just 11% in Minnesota. Mail-in voting remains a popular option in both states, with 35% of Minnesotans and 30% of Georgians saying they will vote absentee.
As we have highlighted in our previous research, some have speculated that the result of the election may be disputed due to issues with mail-in votes. The particularly close results from our poll in Georgia this week suggest that the outcome of the election in the Peach State could be contentious come November, as it was in the 2018 Gubernatorial election, especially given that Biden has a clear advantage throughout the country among mail-in voters.
Across our national and swing state polling, research has consistently indicated that likely Trump voters are significantly more enthusiastic about voting for Trump than likely Biden voters are about casting their ballot for Biden. Across Minnesota and Georgia, between 42-43% of likely Biden voters are ‘very enthusiastic’ about voting for Biden, whereas a clear majority (55-58%) of likely Trump voters are ‘very enthusiastic’ about voting for the President’s re-election.
Our research highlights that the public perspective on which candidate will handle economic and healthcare issues more effectively will be central in determining the outcome of the election. In both states, a plurality (29-32%) consider that the economy is the key policy area which will determine how they vote in November, while a further fifth (18-20%) believe that healthcare is the central policy area which will impact their decision.
In Georgia, a clear plurality (45%) of respondents believe that Donald Trump is more likely to lead a strong economic recovery, rather than Joe Biden (37%). The Minnesota public however, is evenly divided, with 43% trusting Trump to lead a strong economic recovery compared to 42% trusting Biden.
The Trump campaign will also be relieved by the fact that 41% of the Georgian public trust President Trump compared to 40% who trust Biden when it comes to handling the coronavirus pandemic, although the difference lies within the margin of error of this poll. On the other hand, a clear plurality (48%) of Minnesotans believe that Joe Biden is more likely to do the most to see an end to the coronavirus pandemic, while 35% say that Trump is.
Ultimately, Trump’s relative strength on both economic and healthcare issues in Georgia, compared to in the other six swing states, may enable him to strengthen his lead prior to Election Day and claim victory in the state once again.
While the 2020 election cycle has been dominated by the presidential race, there are multiple key U.S. Senate races across the country, including Georgia and Minnesota, that will be crucial in determining which party will enjoy a Senate majority for the next cycle.
In Minnesota, Democratic Senator Tina Smith is up for re-election for a full six-year term. Senator Smith was first appointed in 2018 to replace former Senator Al Franken after he resigned amid sexual harassment allegations. Smith served as replacement Senator for less than a full year before triumphing in a special senate election by 10 points, winning the rest of Franken’s term. Running against Smith this time is former house representative Jason Lewis, a right-wing radio host in Minnesota who is strongly aligned to President Trump.
Currently, 51% of Minnesota respondents say they will vote to re-elect Democratic Senator Tina Smith, while 36% will vote for Jason Lewis, her Republican opponent. Nevertheless, 11% of respondents don’t know who they will vote for, which means that Lewis may have an opportunity to narrow Smith’s lead.
Meanwhile, both Senate seats in Georgia are being contested in this election cycle. Democrat Jon Ossoff is running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Senator David Perdue, who was first elected in 2014. Ossoff is running as an anti-corruption candidate and has referred to Senator Perdue as “the embodiment of a corrupt system” while Perdue’s campaign has focused on delivering aid during the coronavirus pandemic, including billions for hospitals and Congress’ creation of the small business loan Paycheck Protection Program. In parallel to the presidential contest in Georgia, the two major candidates in this Senate race are neck and neck. At this stage, Perdue and Ossoff are both polling at 43%. Moreover, 11% of respondents are yet to decide who they will vote for, which highlights that the race will be too close to call until the majority of votes are counted.
As for the second seat, Republican Senator Johnny Isakson’s retirement from the Senate last year initiated an open special election race, including multiple Democrats and Republicans. Unless a single candidate wins an outright majority, the race will go to a runoff in January. The two competitive Republicans are Kelly Loeffler, the incumbent Senator who was appointed when Isakson stepped down for health reasons, and Doug Collins, a pastor. For the Democrats, Matt Lieberman and Raphael Warnock are the key candidates. Lieberman is the son of former vice-presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, while Warnock was the pastor of the late Congressman John Lewis.
Currently, a slight plurality (26%) say they will vote to re-elect Republican Senator Loeffler in the Special Senate Election, while around a fifth (21%) intend to vote for Democrat Raphael Warnock. A further 19% intend to vote for Republican Doug Collins while 15% think they will cast their ballot for Matt Democrat Lieberman. As 15% of the electorate currently ‘don’t know’ who they will vote for, all four of these candidates have a possibility of getting into the top two for a run-off in January.
Overall, Democrats will be encouraged that the party has a solid lead in the Presidential and U.S. Senate races in Minnesota, while remaining very competitive across all races in Georgia but with many voters undecided and mail-in voting difficulties, the race is set to be very close.