Latest US Swing States Voting Intention
(12-16 September)

September 18, 2020
R&WS Research Team
Approval Rating | Arizona | Donald Trump | Florida | Joe Biden | Michigan | North Carolina | Pennsylvannia | Policing | Relations with China | Swing States | US Presidential Election 2020 | Vote by Mail | Voting Intention | Wisconsin

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Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest presidential voting intention poll in the swing states finds Joe Biden ahead of Donald Trump in all six swing states.

Overall, our results this week do not differ substantially from the results presented two weeks ago—with the exception of Wisconsin. Biden continues to lead by 5% in Arizona and Pennsylvania, and by 3% in Florida. In Michigan, Biden’s lead fell narrowly from 11% to 10%, but this change falls within the margin of error. Likewise, in North Carolina, Trump’s 1% lead two weeks ago has now been reversed into a 2% lead for Biden this week—but these margins also fall within the margin of error of both polls, and thus should not be interpreted as a meaningful change. On the other hand, in Wisconsin, Biden’s lead has now narrowed from 9% to 6%, mirroring a similar change in Pennsylvania two weeks ago, when Biden’s lead narrowed from 7% to 5%.

Less than two months from the election, the proportion of respondents who are undecided continues to fall and is as low as 5% in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. The swing state with the highest proportion of undecided voters is Wisconsin, at 10%.

With each swing state having its own policies around absentee voting and in-person early voting, the method by which respondents plan to vote varies significantly across states. Mail-in ballots remain the most popular voting method in Arizona (65%), Michigan (49%) and Florida (40%). Meanwhile, a plurality in North Carolina (36%) plans to vote in person, but prior to Election Day. On the other hand, a majority in Pennsylvania (57%) plan to vote in-person on Election Day, which reflects the fact that the state does not allow in-person early voting. Whereas a plurality (43%) of Wisconsinites plan to vote in-person on Election Day, mail-in voting remains a popular option, with 37% saying they will vote absentee.

As research suggests that Biden has a clear lead over Trump among mail-in voters (a variance that can also be seen in the chart above), it appears very possible that the result will be unknown on election night and in the days, or even weeks, that follow, given the logistical challenges that come with mailed ballots.

Our polling throughout the summer has consistently found that likely Trump voters express significantly higher levels of enthusiasm about voting for Trump than likely Biden voters do about voting for Biden—and this week is no exception. Across the six swing states, majorities of likely Trump voters (54-64%) continue to say they are “very enthusiastic” about voting for President Trump in November. Meanwhile, in five of the six swing states, only pluralities of likely Biden voters (41-49%) say they are “very enthusiastic” about voting for him. The only exception is Arizona, where a majority of likely Biden voters (57%) said they are “very enthusiastic” about voting for the former Vice President.

Our polling suggests that the economy and healthcare will be the central policy areas of this election, with pluralities in all six swing states (26-35%) stating that the economy is the policy area most likely to determine how they will vote in November. Across the six swing states, between 20-25% of respondents say that healthcare is the key issue which will determine their vote. Naturally, the coronavirus pandemic overarches both policy areas due to its dual impact on both public health and the economy. 

Pluralities in five of the six swing states (45-49%) think President Trump is more likely to get the economy going again after the pandemic than Joe Biden. The only swing state where a plurality thinks Biden is more likely to get the economy going again is Michigan, however Biden only leads on this issue by 1%, a lead which falls within the margin of error of the poll.

Whereas President Trump leads on the economy, Biden has a strong lead when it comes to who the electorate thinks would best handle the coronavirus pandemic. Across all six swing states, clear pluralities (40-47%) think that Joe Biden would have handled the coronavirus pandemic better than Donald Trump did. Only 25-31% of respondents said they think that Biden would have handled the pandemic worse than Trump. Results across the six states were relatively even.

In addition to the key issues of the economy and healthcare, President Trump has also sought to bring China and law and order to the forefront of the election, capitalizing on what he perceives to be his strength in those two policy areas. Our polling suggests that Trump’s focus on US-China relations may work in his favour, but a focus on law and order issues is unlikely to have a substantial positive impact on the President’s re-election campaign.

On the question of which candidate would be tougher on China, Donald Trump dominates by a significant margin in all six states, including by 23% in Wisconsin. Across the six swing states, the proportion who thinks Trump would be tougher on China ranges between 46-52%, whereas the proportion who thinks Biden would be tougher lies between 29-36%, which is substantially lower.

Unlike relations with China, which are primarily conducted at the national level by the President, the issue of law and order is often primarily handled at the state or city level. Consequently, as we did following events in Kenosha, we asked respondents which of the two major parties they trust the most when it comes to policing and security in their state. Our results were extremely tight: in North Carolina, equal proportions (40% and 40%) trust Democrats and Republicans the most on policing and security.  Meanwhile, in Florida and Wisconsin, respondents trust Democrats more than Republicans by a margin of 1%, which falls within the margin of error of the poll. Conversely, Arizona respondents trusted Republicans the most on this issue, but also within the margin of error. It was only in Michigan (42%) and Pennsylvania (45%) that Democrats were able to command the trust of clear pluralities on issues of policing and security.

Despite relatively few changes in voting intention across the swing states this week, Wisconsin is emerging as a key state to watch in the coming weeks. Not only has President Trump narrowed Biden’s lead in the state from 9% to 6%, but the President is also performing particularly well in Wisconsin on the issue of China. With 10% of likely voters in Wisconsin still undecided about who they will vote for, there is plenty of room for both campaigns to intensify their pitches to Wisconsin voters.

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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