Latest US Swing States Voting Intention (7-9 October 2023)

October 15, 2023
R&WS Research Team
Approval Rating | Arizona | Democratic Party | Donald Trump | Elections | Florida | Joe Biden | Michigan | North Carolina | Pennsylvannia | Republican Party | Robert F. Kennedy Jr. | Swing States | US Elections | US Politics | US Presidential Election 2024 | US Public Figures | Voting Intention | Wisconsin

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With the next US Presidential Election now just a little over a year away, we at Redfield & Wilton Strategies, in partnership with The Telegraph, are launching our swing state tracker poll, which will track voter sentiment in the key swing states that will decide the Presidential Election. Our first iteration of this polling covers Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

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In the 2020 Presidential Election, Joe Biden carried Arizona (by 0.3%), Georgia (by 0.2%), Michigan (by 2.8%), and Pennsylvania (by 1.2%), while Donald Trump won Florida (by 3.3%) and North Carolina (by 1.4%).

In the first edition of this monthly tracker, conducted on October 7th and 8th (and 9th in the case of Michigan), our Presidential Voting Intention poll finds Donald Trump clearly performing better than he did in 2020.

In a hypothetical match-up between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, Donald Trump currently holds leads over Biden in four of the six states polled: Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia. The two candidates are tied at 41% each in Michigan, while Joe Biden holds a narrow 1% lead over Trump in Pennsylvania.

Across the six states, 10% (Pennsylvania) to 14% (North Carolina) of voters say they are undecided as to how they would vote in this scenario. 1

Third-party candidates have failed to achieve significant popular support in a US Presidential Election since Ross Perot took more than 8% of the vote in his second Presidential campaign in 1996.

Even so, third-party candidates have found themselves playing crucial roles in both the 2000 (Ralph Nader) and 2016 (Jill Stein and Gary Johnson) elections. In a tight contest, a candidate siphoning even a few thousand votes from one of the major party candidates in a swing state could spell the difference between one result or another.

On Monday, after our polling concluded, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced that he would run in 2024 as an independent candidate, abandoning his attempt to challenge President Biden for the Democratic Party’s nomination. In the hours after his announcement, a Super Pac aligned with Kennedy raised $11million for his campaign, a sign that Kennedy may play a significant role in next year’s election.

When Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is included in our hypothetical voting intention poll as an independent candidate, Donald Trump leads in five of the six states polled. In this scenario, Trump leads in Michigan (40% vs 38%) and is tied with Biden in Pennsylvania.

Whereas some commentary has suggested that Kennedy’s run as an independent would hurt Trump more than Biden, our polling suggests an independent RFK Jr. candidacy may help Trump by a slight margin.

In fact, about twice as many Biden 2020 voters as Trump 2020 voters say they would vote for RFK Jr. in Georgia (10% vs 5%), North Carolina (11% vs 5%), Pennsylvania (10% vs 6%), and Florida (11% vs 4%).

However, it is important to note that our polling was concluded before RFK Jr.’s official declaration that he would run as an independent candidate. Further polling will see how Kennedy’s support changes as he moves from pitching himself primarily to Democratic Primary voters towards pitching himself to all general election voters.

On the issues, the economy will be the single most important issue for pluralities of voters in all six states when determining how they will vote in 2024. Abortion is the second most commonly cited issue in five of the six states, while immigration is the second most important issue for voters in Florida and the third most important issue in Arizona.

The Biden Administrations earns negative net approval ratings from voters in all six states for its handling of the economy, immigration, and foreign policy. 

On the economy, the Administration’s approval ratings range from a high of -3% in Georgia to a low of -16% in Arizona.

A majority of voters in Arizona (54%) and Florida (53%) also disapprove of the Government’s performance on immigration, as do pluralities of voters in the other four states polled.

Responses are more mixed on other issues, with the administration earning positive net approval ratings for its performance on healthcare in Georgia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, while holding negative ratings on that issue in the other three states. Pluralities of voters in Georgia and Michigan also approve of the Government’s performance on the environment, while pluralities of voters in the other states polled disapprove.

The disapproval of the Biden Administration’s handling of key policy issues is mirrored in the President’s own personal approval rating.

Altogether, voters in all six states give President Biden negative net approval ratings for his job performance, with his net approval rating at its highest in Pennsylvania (-4%) and lowest in Florida (-9%).

Similarly, Vice President Kamala Harris holds negative net approval ratings among voters in all six swing states polled, with her approval ratings ranging from as high as -2% in Georgia to as low as -15% in Florida.

Pitting the two probable candidates together, Donald Trump leads Joe Biden in all six states on nine of the 15 leadership characteristics prompted, including ‘is a strong leader,’ ‘will be tough on China,’ ‘can get the economy going again,’ and ‘understands the problems afflicting America.’

Critically, Trump leads on the question of who ‘represents change’ in all six states, a key difference from 2020. He also holds double digit leads in all six states on the question of which of the two candidates ‘is in good physical and mental health.’

Biden leads Trump in all six states on the leadership characteristics ‘cares about people like me’ and ‘is willing to work with the other party where possible.’ Biden also leads Trump in five of six states on ‘tells the truth.’

If Trump and Biden were to be the candidates of the two major parties in 2024, a plurality of voters in five of the six states believe Trump would be the more likely of the two to win the election. In Georgia, 38% each believe either Trump or Biden would be the most likely to win the election.

However, voters are broadly unenthused about a possible 2020 re-match, which primary election polling suggests is highly likely. Majorities of voters in all six key swing states polled do not believe that either Joe Biden or Donald Trump should run in 2024.

Between 55% and 62% of voters believe Joe Biden should not run for re-election in 2024, while fewer than 30% of voters in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania believe that he should.

More than 50% of voters in all six states polled also believe that Donald Trump should not run for re-election in 2024, with fewer than 40% saying he should run for re-election in five of the six states polled (and just 42% in Florida).

That said, in all six states, majorities of those who voted for either candidate in 2020 think their respective candidate should run again.

Concerns about the age of both Joe Biden (81) and Donald Trump (77) weigh heavily, especially with regards to President Biden.

About two-thirds of voters in all six states agree that President Biden is too old to seek a second term as President. At the same time, pluralities of voters in every state except Florida also agree that Donald Trump is too old to seek a second term as President of the United States.

The two main candidates may ultimately be the same, but next year’s Presidential Election will clearly be different from 2020’s, as our polling already indicates. 

The coronavirus pandemic has receded into the background, while the economy, abortion, and immigration are now foremost on voters’ minds. In the shadow of the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, and now war in Israel, foreign policy is also set to be much more prominent than in 2020. Meanwhile, the independent candidacy of RFK Jr. looks likely to play a disruptive role.

Above all, whereas Donald Trump was the incumbent in 2020, he is now the challenger, and it is Joe Biden who must defend the status quo.

The Presidential Elections of 2016 and 2020 were close. In both instances, it came down to about 100,000 votes across three different states. Our first set of swing state polling suggests that this election could be even closer.

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1 Unlike in Britain, it is common practise in the United States to present the final voting intention result with undecided voters included.

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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