Latest USA Voting Intention (8 and 9 June)

June 11, 2020
China | Coronavirus | George Floyd | The Economy | USA Elections | Voting Intention

Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest national voting intention poll of 1,500 registered voters in the United States conducted on June 8 and 9 finds Joseph Biden leading by 13%. Biden’s lead is 6% greater than our previous voting intention poll in May, 4% greater than in our same poll in April, and 5% greater than in March.  This poll is also our first US voting intention poll to include the likely candidates for the Libertarian Party and the Green Party. Altogether, our final numbers are as follows:

Joseph R. Biden (Democrat) 50% (+3)

Donald J. Trump (Republican) 37% (-3)

Jo Jorgensen (Libertarian) 1% (new)

Howie Hawkins (Green) 0% (new)

Other (Another Third Party / Write-In) 1% (-3)

Don’t Know 10% (+1)

While there have been few, if any, noteworthy changes in either candidates’ campaign platforms in the last month to explain such a change in voting intention, the ongoing developments of the coronavirus pandemic and the death of George Floyd followed by considerable unrest have presented significant challenges for President Trump. The differences in our national polls in May and this week may therefore reflect how the public has perceived his handling of these twin crises. Notably, the President’s overall job performance rating has dropped from -2% in April to -11% this week.

Indeed, an enthusiasm gap in excitement between the supporters of each candidate suggest that this election is currently framed as a referendum on President Trump. Whereas 56% of those planning to vote for Trump say they feel very enthusiastic to vote for him, this figure is a somewhat lower 44% among those planning to vote for Biden.

More significantly, a majority of respondents who indicated they will vote for Biden said they are doing so primarily because they do not support Donald Trump (55%) rather than primarily because they support Joe Biden (45%). On the other hand, 78% of respondents who indicated they will vote for Trump say they are doing so primarily because they support Donald Trump, with only 22% saying they are primarily voting for Trump because they do not support Joe Biden.[1] 

Looking more closely at President Trump’s handling of the two crises confronting him, our poll found that 50% of respondents disapprove of President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis specifically, compared to 37% who approve. This result is only slightly different than our previous coronavirus crisis approval rating in May but is nevertheless a significant drop from the first time we asked this question in late March, where his handling of the coronavirus crisis was viewed positively. [2] 

For the latest crisis in the United States, 49% disapprove of President Trump’s handling of the crisis that has followed the death of George Floyd, with only 30% approving.

When asked how they think a President Biden would have handled these two ongoing crises, the responses are favorable to the Democratic candidate: 46% think a President Biden would have handled the coronavirus better, which remains unchanged since May. Only 24% think a President Biden would have handled the coronavirus crisis worse than President Trump.

Meanwhile, 49% think Joe Biden would have handled the crisis following the death of George Floyd better than Donald Trump did, with just 21% saying a President Biden would have done worse. 

However, on both questions there is a significant proportion of respondents who think it would not have made a difference (17%) or who are unsure (13-14%) about whether a President Biden would have handled the crises better.

More importantly, crises can fade easily with time. The impeachment of Donald Trump, for instance, likely feels like ages ago. The President also has popular messages in response to both of these crises in the longer term. A plurality of respondents (46%) expressed optimism about the possibility of a strong economic rebound. With his economic track record prior to the pandemic, the public may choose to back the President if he can demonstrate his ability to spur a recovery.

If China becomes a key issue of this election—especially in connection to the coronavirus crisis—President Trump would be in a much stronger position than the overall headline results of this poll would suggest. Our poll found a plurality of respondents thinking that the Trump administration’s stance towards China over the coronavirus pandemic has been “about right” (35%), compared to 21% who think it has been too aggressive and 25% who think it has not been aggressive enough.

Furthermore, despite the significantly negative disapproval rating for Trump’s handling of the crisis following the death of George Floyd, 46% of respondents agreed with a statement saying that President Trump’s call for “law and order” resonates with them, including 19% of likely Biden voters, whereas 31% altogether disagreed with the statement.

Similarly, 54% think President Trump was correct to ask state governors to make use the National Guard during recent protests, with only 33% saying it was not correct for the President to ask state governors to make use of the National Guard.

Moreover, our poll found that only 28% of respondents agree with calls to “defund the police” that have been advanced by protesters in recent days, while 43% disagree. Amonglikely Biden voters, only 36% agree with calls to “defund the police” while a considerable 35% disagree.

Therefore, beyond these two crises, former Vice President Joe Biden faces the challenge of establishing himself as a candidate in his own name. Some of Biden’s strongest areas are his ability to bring Americans together and his willingness to work with Republicans where possible. Whereas only 31% of respondents said Trump could be characterized as someone who can bring Americans together, 52% said this would be an adequate characterization of Biden. Likewise, 51% of respondents agreed that Biden is someone who is willing to work with Republicans where possible, whereas only 33% of respondents said the same about President Trump’s willingness to work with Democrats.

A key weakness for candidate Biden is that almost a third of respondents don’t know whether he is someone who would be tough on China (28%). In fact, while most respondents did not think President Trump could be described positively in the ways provided, China was by far Trump’s strongest area in our poll, with 55% of respondents saying they would characterize him as tough on China, including 36% of likely Biden voters.

Similarly, respondents were slightly more likely to view Trump as someone who can get the economy going again (47%) than Joe Biden (43%), although Trump’s advantage over Biden on the economy is marginal.

Much has been said about the physical and mental health of the two candidates, both of whom are older than seventy (Trump is 73 and Biden is 77). Despite a significant amount of negative advertising highlighting Joe Biden’s gaffes indicative of his age, respondents were more likely to say Biden is in good physical and mental health than Trump (44% and 38%, respectively). Regardless, it is concerning that between a third and a half of respondents do not think the two main presidential candidates are in good health, whether physical or mental.

It may be worth further noting that the percentage who responded “don’t know” was substantially higher for Biden than for Trump in the above two questions. For example, whereas only 10% don’t know whether President Trump could be characterized as someone who can work with foreign leaders, a much higher 20% said they don’t know if Joe Biden could be characterized in this way.

Thus, despite President Trump’s high disapproval ratings for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and of the crisis following the death of George Floyd, this election is far from over. Ultimately, there is the potential for President Trump to emphasize his economic record, his toughness on China, and his calls for “law and order” in the coming months, thus attracting support from the significant number of likely Biden voters who wish to see tough action both against the Chinese Government for its role in the coronavirus pandemic and against the small minority of protesters who engaged in the destruction of property.

As such, even given the significant lead in our voting intention poll, respondents were only moderately more likely to say that Joe Biden is more likely to win the election, with just 7% more respondents saying they think Biden is more likely to win the election than Trump (37% and 30%, respectively). Another third of respondents said the candidates had equal chances of winning or that they did not know.

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.

 

[1] Note: Answer codes were as follows: ‘Primarily because I support Joe Biden’, ‘Primarily because I do not support Donald Trump’ and ‘Primarily because I support Donald Trump’, ‘Primarily because I do not support Joe Biden’

[2] Note: In March, the coronavirus crisis approval rating had ‘somewhat approve’ and ‘somewhat disapprove’ prompted as answer codes instead of ‘approve’ and ‘disapprove.’