Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest presidential voting intention poll in the swing states finds Joe Biden continuing to lead Donald Trump in all six swing states by 5-10%. The Democratic candidate has increased his lead by 3% in Arizona and North Carolina, and by 5% in Wisconsin, while retaining the same lead in Florida and Pennsylvania as two weeks ago.

In five of the six swing states, Joe Biden has maintained or increased his lead over President Trump compared to our polling a fortnight ago, suggesting that President Trump’s debate performance and coronavirus illness has not positively impacted his campaign in the key swing states. The former Vice President has increased his lead by 3% in Arizona and North Carolina, and by 5% in Wisconsin, while at the same time retaining the same lead in Florida and Pennsylvania as two weeks ago. The only swing state where Joe Biden’s lead decreased was in Michigan, but it was a 1% decrease –– well within the margin of error of that sample.

Overall, Joe Biden leads Donald Trump by 5% in Florida and North Carolina, 6% in Arizona and Pennsylvania, 8% in Michigan, and 10% in Wisconsin.

With less than a month to go until the election, the proportion of voters who are undecided remains between 5% and 7% throughout the six swing states, the same result as two weeks ago.

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. Currently, mail-in ballots are the most popular intended voting method in Arizona (60%), Florida (45%), Michigan (49%) and Wisconsin (45%). A slight plurality in North Carolina (37%) plan to vote in person, but prior to Election Day. In Pennsylvania, around half (51%) plan to vote in-person on Election Day.

Among those who intend to vote by mail, the proportion of respondents at each stage of the process varies significantly depending on the state. A plurality of intended mail-in voters in North Carolina (43%) and a majority in Wisconsin (52%) say they have already sent their completed and signed ballot to their county’s Board of Elections. By contrast, a majority of intended mail-in voters in Arizona (73%) and Pennsylvania (56%) have requested their ballot but are yet to receive it. In Florida (46%) and Michigan (49%), a plurality of those who intend to vote by mail have received their ballot but have yet to complete it or send it to their county’s Board of Elections. The percentage of those who intend to vote by mail yet have not requested their ballot varies slightly by state: Arizona (12%), Florida (4%), Michigan (2%), North Carolina (7%), Pennsylvania (5%) and Wisconsin (5%).

Our polling has consistently found that likely Donald Trump voters express higher levels of enthusiasm about voting for the President than likely Joe Biden voters do about voting for the former Vice President, and this difference remains the case this week. Across the six swing states, a clear majority of likely Donald Trump voters (57-64%) continue to say they are “very enthusiastic” about voting for President Trump in November. Nevertheless, enthusiasm levels for Joe Biden among his likely voters continue to increase as Election Day approaches. In our latest polling, a majority (51-56%) of likely Joe Biden voters in the swing states say they are ‘very enthusiastic’ about voting for him. Enthusiasm for Joe Biden’s candidacy has shifted significantly in less than a month: in polling we conducted between 12 and 16 September, less than 50% of likely Joe Biden voters were “very enthusiastic” about voting for him in five of the six swing states.

A slightly greater proportion of the swing state public (70-80%) watched the first Presidential Debate than the average nationwide (69%).

Overall, likely Joe Biden voters express greater levels of satisfaction with the performance of their favoured candidate in the first debate than likely Donald Trump voters. Among likely Joe Biden voters who watched the debate, 22-27% believe he delivered a 10 out of 10 performance, while a clear majority of likely Joe Biden voters throughout the swing states (58-71%) rated his performance 8 out of 10 or higher. A similar proportion (20-31%) of likely Donald Trump supporters think he gave a 10 out of 10 performance, yet just a plurality of the President’s likely voters (44% to 49%) in five of the swing states ranked his performance 8 out of 10 or higher. Donald Trump voters in North Carolina were most enthusiastic about his performance, with 58% ranking it 8 out of 10 or higher.

The charts below highlight the contrast between the expectations that likely voters of each candidate had in the week prior to the debate, compared to how they rated their performance after the debate. In our previous polling, 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 would score full marks.

Our polling continues to indicate that the economy and healthcare will be the central policy areas of this election. A plurality in Arizona (29%), Florida (32%), North Carolina (28%) and Pennsylvania (30%) consider the economy the policy area most likely to determine how they will vote in November. In the midwestern states of Michigan (29%) and Wisconsin (31%), a slight plurality will be motivated to vote based mainly on healthcare issues.

Clear pluralities or majorities (45-55%) of the swing state public believe that federal and state governments should lean towards more restrictive coronavirus measures and regulations, even at the risk of damage to the economy. An overwhelming majority (68-77%) of likely Joe Biden voters hold this view. By contrast, around a third (30-33%) believe regulations should be more open, even at the risk of a rise in cases of coronavirus. A majority (53-60%) of likely Donald Trump voters meanwhile would favour this alternative approach. Ultimately, public opinion on managing coronavirus is more aligned to the views of Joe Biden, who favours a more cautious approach toward managing the pandemic.  

Strong support for more restrictive coronavirus measures and regulations is likely linked to the fact that many members of the public continue to feel unsafe in a range of settings. Throughout the six swing states, a substantial minority would feel unsafe while shopping for groceries (16-24%) or eating at a restaurant or drinking at a bar outside (32-43%).

Ultimately, a significant proportion of the swing state public continue to feel unsafe engaging in everyday activities. Therefore, voter perspectives on which candidate is likely to do the most to see an end to the coronavirus pandemic will be crucial in the final stages of the election campaign. Currently, strong pluralities or majorities (46-55%) in all six swing states believe that Joe Biden is more likely to do see more to end the coronavirus pandemic. Moreover, the Democratic nominee leads the President Trump by a substantial margin (14-24%) on this measurable.

With four weeks to go until Election Day, and an increasing proportion of the public having submitted their mail-in ballots, polling appears to indicate that Joe Biden is ahead in the race and is stronger than Donald Trump on the issue of coronavirus. However, Donald Trump continues to command greater levels of enthusiasm among his base, suggesting that the election is certainly not guaranteed for Joe Biden, and may well be determined by which campaign can execute the most effective turnout operation.

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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