Latest USA Swing State Voting Intention
(19 to 24 July)

July 30, 2020
R&WS Research Team
Approval Rating | Arizona | Donald Trump | Florida | Joe Biden | Michigan | North Carolina | Pennsylvannia | US Elections | US Presidential Election 2020 | Voting Intention | Wisconsin

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Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest polls across six US swing states find Joe Biden ahead of Donald Trump in all six states, with leads ranging from 1% in North Carolina to 12% in Michigan. Relative to our results in June, Donald Trump has narrowed the gap in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, but has fallen further behind in Arizona, Florida, and Michigan. In Wisconsin, Biden’s 10% lead has remained relatively stable since our first swing state voting intention in May.[1]

Enthusiasm Gap

Despite the leads that Joe Biden holds over Donald Trump, Trump’s likely voters express a greater enthusiasm for voting for their preferred candidate. 54% to 67% of likely Trump voters say they are very enthusiastic (a 3 out of 3 on a scale of enthusiasm) about voting for Trump. Meanwhile, 40% to 49% of likely Biden voters say they have that level of enthusiasm for voting for Biden.

Moreover, across all states, likely Trump voters are significantly more likely to say they are primarily voting for Donald Trump because they support Donald Trump (rather than because they oppose Joe Biden), while a majority of likely Biden voters say the primary reason they plan to vote for Biden is that they oppose Donald Trump (rather than because they support Biden).

Voting In-Person and Mail-In Votes

This gap in enthusiasm presents itself, most interestingly, in the willingness of Trump voters to vote in-person on election day. When asked how comfortable they would be voting in person on election day (on scale of 0 to 5), between 36% and 44% of likely Trump voters say they are ‘very comfortable’ (5 out of 5) voting in-person on election day. Meanwhile, only 9% to 15% of likely Biden voters express the same degree of comfort with voting in person in November.[2]

In fact, when asked by what means they are most likely to vote in the Presidential Election, likely Biden voters overwhelmingly said they will be voting by mail, with North Carolina the lone exception. Likely Trump voters, meanwhile, were significantly more likely to say they would be voting in-person.[3] Evidence of this difference is visible in states where absentee ballots have already been requested.

The implications of this difference cannot be understated. In effect, in some states, election day will see a significant turnout of voters for Donald Trump. Among those voting in-person on election day, Donald Trump wins overwhelmingly in all six swing states.

Meanwhile, among those voting by mail, Joe Biden is the clear winner in all six states. [4]

Of course, this difference may change well before Election Day, depending on the coronavirus situation. Note, for instance, that in Arizona, which is presently undergoing a significant uptick in cases, more than half of likely Trump voters also say they will be voting by mail. In this sense, the greater expression of comfort among likely Trump voters and greater degree of caution among likely Biden voters about voting in-person could simply be a difference in pessimism or optimism about what the coronavirus situation will look like in early November.

Indeed, in all six states, likely Biden voters mostly believe that ‘the worst is yet to come’ with respect to the coronavirus pandemic, whereas likely Trump voters tend to believe that ‘the worst is behind us.’

Therefore, if the coronavirus ameliorates, we could see many more likely Biden voters saying they will be comfortable voting in person, whereas if the situation deteriorates, more likely Trump voters could then say they will vote by mail. However, this outlook could remain the same, given that many likely Trump voters live in rural areas where there has been less spread of the virus due to network effects.

Nevertheless, our results as currently configured present a potential logistical nightmare, reminiscent of the Iowa Democratic Primary in February. If some states see more than half of their voters voting by mail, the United States Postal Service will be under significant strain. Absentee ballots are valid as long as they are post-marked on or before Election Day, meaning that many votes could still be in transit on Election Day and will be counted in the days that follow. This delay could potentially change a result in the days that follow the election, given the vast difference between likely Biden voters and likely Trump voters in how they plan to vote. According to CBS, about 73,000 out of 33 million mail-in ballots arrived too late to be counted in 2016. With this election likely to see many more mail-in votes, such logistical hurdles could mean that the result of the election could be uncertain for several days (and even weeks, as seen in the New York Primary) following Election Day.

Opinion on Mail-In Voting

And, of course, this uncertainty provides the opportunity to claim fraud. When prompted with a statement suggesting that mail-in voting provides too great of an opportunity for fraud, majorities in North Carolina and Florida, and pluralities in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin agreed. In all six states, a significant number of likely Trump voters strongly agreed that mail-in voting provides too much of an opportunity for electoral fraud.

At the same time, however, majorities of respondents in four states said they would support the election being carried out exclusively by mail in their state. Again, these results had a partisan dimension, with likely Biden voters tending to be supportive and likely Trump voters tending to be opposed.

This scenario is further complicated by the fact that respondents are largely split on whom they think is more likely to win the election, despite polling presently indicating leads for Joe Biden. In Arizona and North Carolina, a plurality think Donald Trump is more likely to win, whereas in the other four states, particularly in Wisconsin, pluralities think Joe Biden will win.

Key Campaign Issues

Another indication that this race will be closer than it presently appears is President Donald Trump’s strength on key issues: the economy and China. When asked which of the two main candidates ‘can get the economy going’ and will ‘be tough on China,’ respondents in all six states were more likely to pick Donald Trump.

As the President intensifies his barbs on the mental sharpness of Joe Biden, respondents were also more likely (although barely) to say Donald Trump is in good physical and mental health than Joe Biden in four states, with respondents split in Michigan and selecting Biden in Wisconsin.

That a quarter of respondents select ‘Don’t Know’ on this question, however, paints a pessimistic view of the next four years for the United States, regardless of who wins the Presidency in November. Moreover, when respondents in all six states were asked about Trump’s physical and mental health without comparison to Joe Biden, they were most likely to say the President is not in good physical and mental health.

The Achilles heel for Donald Trump, however, remains his difficulty appearing compassionate or like a President that can unify the country. Respondents in all six states were reluctant to describe the President as someone who ‘cares about people like me’ or ‘can bring Americans together.’ Meanwhile, Joe Biden scored particularly well in both respects.

And Finally, Kanye West’s Candidacy

Short of a last-minute replacement for the two main nominees, there is unlikely to be any other major contender for the Presidency. Another change from our June swing state polls is the addition of Kanye West in three states where he could still register on the ballot: Arizona (4 September deadline), Pennsylvania (3 August deadline), and Wisconsin (4 August deadline). It has been unclear whether West is earnest in his presidential ballot since his original announcement on Independence Day. Shortly after our polls were placed in field, Kanye tweeted, “Ima focus on the music now.” Yet, this past weekend, he appeared to reverse his early drop out and tweeted, “I CAN BEAT BIDEN OFF OF WRITE INS #2020 Vision.” West’s poor showing of 1% in Pennsylvania and 2% in Arizona and Wisconsin last week are likely, in part, a result of many believing the rapper is not serious about his Presidential bid.

In our national voting intention poll from earlier this month, West, who is indeed on the ballot in Oklahoma, scored 2%.

[1] Due to rounding, some percentages may add up to numbers other than 100. For instance, if three responses to a given question each receive 33.3% of the share of respondents, we would report 33% for each response, which adds up to 99.

[2] Those who said they were certain not to vote were not prompted this question.

[3] At this moment, Pennsylvania does not permit in-person early voting prior to election day. Our poll erroneously prompted in-person voting prior to election day to respondents. At the same time, Pennsylvania could still change its election laws to allow early, in-person voting.

[4] Despite the small sizes for these respective sub-samples, the differences between the results are large enough to make our claim statistically significant.

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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