Latest US Swing States Voting Intention (16-19 August)

August 21, 2020
Swing States | US Presidential Election 2020 | USA Elections | Voting Intention
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The latest US swing states poll by Redfield & Wilton Strategies finds that Joe Biden is ahead of Donald Trump in five out of six swing states. Nonetheless, for the first time since we started polling the swing states in May, Donald Trump is now ahead in North Carolina, although the difference between the two candidates falls within the margin of error of our poll in the coastal state.

In Arizona, Joe Biden is currently ahead of Donald Trump by 9%, which represents a very slight increase from his 8% lead in July, but a significant one from May, when Joe Biden was only 4% ahead of Donald Trump. Unlike in some of the other swing states, the percentage of Arizona voters who remain undecided has remained largely constant in the past four months, and it currently stands at 10%.

Similar to Arizona, Joe Biden currently leads by 8% in Florida, a slight increase from his 7% lead in July, but a significant increase from his 2% lead in May, which fell within the margin of error of our poll at the time. In Florida, 49% of respondents say they intend to vote for Joe Biden, compared to 41% who intend to vote for Donald Trump. Meanwhile, the percentage who remained undecided has decreased from 11% in June to 7% in August.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, the incumbent President has been able to reverse Joe Biden’s lead: whereas the Democratic candidate was ahead by two points in May and six points in June, Donald Trump was able to reduce Joe Biden’s lead to just one percentage point in July. Now, in August, the President has a 2% lead in North Carolina over Joe Biden.

On the other hand, the Democratic lead in Michigan remains sizeable and stable. Joe Biden is now 12% ahead of Donald Trump in Michigan. Since June, Joe Biden has enjoyed an 11-12% lead in Michigan in our polls, which is perhaps reflective of the high levels of approval that Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer has received for her handling of the coronavirus crisis. Whereas Whitmer currently enjoys 61% approval in Michigan for her handling of the pandemic, 50% of Michigan voters say they intend to vote for Joe Biden, compared to 38% who say they will vote for Donald Trump. 

Our latest poll finds that Joe Biden is 7% ahead of Donald Trump among Pennsylvania voters, which represents a slight narrowing of Joe Biden’s 10% lead over Donald Trump in June but is still comfortably outside of the poll’s margin of error. Unlike Michigan, where a strong majority (61%) approve of how the state’s Democratic Governor has handled the pandemic, in Pennsylvania less than half of respondents (49%) approve of how Democratic Governor Tom Wolf has managed the pandemic in the state. The difference in gubernatorial approval ratings could be the reason why Joe Biden’s lead has grown in Michigan yet narrowed in Pennsylvania.

Finally, Joe Biden continues to have a 10% lead over Donald Trump in Wisconsin, which he has enjoyed since May. In this state, 49% of respondents say they intend to vote for Joe Biden, whereas 39% intend to vote for Donald Trump. Joe Biden’s has maintained a ten-point lead in Wisconsin across the past four months as the percentage of undecided voters halved from 15% in July to 7% in August.

Joe Biden’s sustained lead in five of the six swing states is likely to be linked to the opinion of the US public on who is more likely to do the most to see an end to the coronavirus pandemic. Biden’s lead has grown substantially in parallel with the sustained increase in the number of coronavirus cases: since early June, the number of new daily cases of coronavirus has gone from a seven-day average of 21,000 to over 47,000. In Michigan (48%), Florida (48%), Pennsylvania (48%) and Wisconsin (46%), a clear plurality of believe that Joe Biden is more likely to do the most to see an end to the coronavirus pandemic looking forward. A plurality also believe Biden will do more in North Carolina (41%) and Arizona (41%).

Nevertheless, although the swing-state public believe Biden will do more to end the coronavirus pandemic in the US, they are divided on which major candidate is more likely to lead a strong economic recovery out of the coronavirus pandemic. A slight plurality in Wisconsin (42%), Pennsylvania (44%) believe Trump is more likely to lead a strong economic recovery, while respondents are evenly divided in Florida. In Arizona, a slight plurality considers Biden more likely to lead a strong recovery, yet the slim lead is within the margin of error. A strong plurality of respondents from North Carolina believe Trump is more likely to lead a strong recovery, while a clear plurality of those in Michigan hold the opposite view. Overall, the success of Trump’s re-election bid in November will be determined by his campaign’s ability to convince the public in these swing states that he is more likely to lead a strong US economic recovery. As we highlighted in our previous polling, Trump’s strength on key campaign issues such as the economy indicates that the race will be closer than it presently appears.

Less than three months away from the Presidential Election, the incumbent President trails his opponent by significant percentages in five of the six swing states. However, Donald Trump’s ability to reverse Joe Biden’s lead in North Carolina, and to reduce it in Pennsylvania, suggests that elements of the President’s re-election strategy might be working. Whereas Joe Biden has enjoyed consistent leads in Michigan and Wisconsin since May and these two swing states currently appear to be out of the President’s reach, Donald Trump could still make a comeback in Arizona and Florida, where Joe Biden’s lead has been as slim as two percent (within the margin of error) in previous months. Joe Biden’s continued lead across five of the six swing states is linked to voters considering he is more likely to do more to see an end to the coronavirus pandemic, yet the public are strongly divided on which candidate can succeed in leading a strong recovery for the US economy, which may tighten the race in the lead up to November.

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.

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