Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest presidential voting intention poll, conducted in the days before the Presidential debates on Tuesday, finds Joe Biden ahead of Donald Trump in six key swing states: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Overall, our results this week do not differ substantially from our findings a fortnight ago. On the one hand, Joe Biden’s lead has shrunk by 2% in Arizona and 1% in Wisconsin and Michigan, changes that fall within the margin of error of this poll. On the other hand, the Democratic nominee has increased his lead over Donald Trump by 2% in Florida and 1% in Pennsylvania, which are shifts that also fall within the margin of error of the poll. Overall, Joe Biden leads by 2% in North Carolina, 3% in Arizona, 5% in Florida and Wisconsin, 6% in Pennsylvania, and 9% in Michigan.

Five weeks from the election, the proportion of respondents who are undecided remains relatively stable compared to a fortnight ago. Throughout the six swing states, only 5-7% of voters have yet to decide who they will vote for. Although the proportion of undecided voters has decreased by 2% in Arizona, and by 3% in Michigan and Wisconsin, it has nonetheless increased by 1% in Florida and North Carolina and remained the same in Pennsylvania. These are changes that largely fall within the margin of error of the poll.

The “Enthusiasm Gap”

Our polling has found the levels of enthusiasm for their preferred candidates to be consistently higher among likely Donald Trump voters than likely Joe Biden voters—and this week is no exception. Across the six swing states, clear majorities of likely Donald Trump voters (55-65%) continue to say they are “very enthusiastic” about voting for President Trump in November.

Nevertheless, enthusiasm levels for Joe Biden have increased slightly since a fortnight ago, when only pluralities of likely Joe Biden voters were “very enthusiastic” about his candidacy in five of the six swing states. In our latest polling, majorities are ‘very enthusiastic’ about Joe Biden in North Carolina (50%), Florida (51%), Pennsylvania (52%) and Arizona (57%). 49% of those in Wisconsin are also “very enthusiastic” about voting for Joe Biden. Enthusiasm levels are notably lower in Michigan, where just 41% of likely Joe Biden voters are “very enthusiastic.”

Greater enthusiasm among Trump voters may be due to the comparatively higher levels of confidence they have in their candidate compared to Democratic voters. In our latest polling, conducted shortly prior to the first Presidential debate, a significantly greater proportion (39-58%) of Donald Trump voters across the swing states thought the President would give a 10 out of 10 performance. Meanwhile, just 28-38% of Joe Biden supporters believed the challenger will score full marks.

Key Policy Areas

Our polling continues to suggest that the economy and healthcare will be the central policy areas of this election. Slight pluralities in Arizona (26%), Florida (31%), North Carolina (30%) and Pennsylvania (32%) say that the economy is the policy area most likely to determine how they will vote in November. In Michigan, a slight plurality (28%) will be motivated to vote based mainly on healthcare issues, while voters are evenly split between the economy (29%) and healthcare (29%) in Wisconsin. In all six swing states, a majority (50% – 58%) say they will cast their vote based on the economy or healthcare policy.

Respondents in four of the swing states (Florida +1%, Pennsylvania +1%, Arizona +5%, and North Carolina +8%) think the President is more likely to get the economy going again after the pandemic than Joe Biden, although Donald Trump’s lead on this metric over Joe Biden in Florida and Pennsylvania is well within the margin of error of this poll. The only swing state where a plurality thinks Joe Biden is more likely to get the economy going again is Michigan (+5% in favour of Joe Biden), while respondents in Wisconsin are evenly split.

Although respondents are divided on which candidate can get the economy going, Joe Biden has a strong lead in all six swing states (Arizona +7%, North Carolina +9%, Florida +10%, Pennsylvania +16%, Wisconsin +17%, Michigan +24%, in favour of Joe Biden) when it comes to who the electorate thinks would do the most to see an end to the coronavirus pandemic.

Donald Trump has criticised Joe Biden for being willing to impose a nationwide shutdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that it would destroy the economy. Our polling in the swing states, however, finds relative support for the measure, with majorities or large pluralities saying they would support a nationwide shutdown.

Supreme Court

The opening of a seat on the Supreme Court following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death may have added an additional dimension to the race for the Presidency, although President Trump has moved quickly to nominate a replacement. Swing state voters are split on whether or not they support or oppose President Trump nominating, and the Senate voting on, a new Supreme Court Justice before the end of his current term. While slight pluralities in Florida (41%) and North Carolina (44%) would support this process, slim pluralities in Arizona (43%), Michigan (43%), Wisconsin (43%), and Pennsylvania (45%) would oppose it.

Nevertheless, around a third of voters in the swing states said they are more likely to vote due to the opening of a Supreme Court seat vacancy.

Around a quarter (24-26%) of those polled in the states say that the opening of a seat makes them more likely to vote for Joe Biden, outweighing the proportion who are more motivated to vote for Donald Trump due to the vacancy (17-18%). 

Among likely Trump voters, around a fifth to nearly two-fifths (37% in Pennsylvania) say they would be more motivated to vote Republican if Donald Trump nominates, and the Senate votes on, a new Supreme Court justice as soon as possible. Around 10% of this subgroup would prefer the Republicans instead pledging to nominate a Justice in the next term.

More than half, however, believe the President and Senate Republicans would have a better chance of winning if they move forward as quickly as possible.

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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