Conducted the day after Kamala Harris was selected as Vice Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest national voting intention poll of 2,000 registered voters in the United States finds Joe Biden leading by 7%. Biden’s lead is 1% smaller than our previous voting intention poll in July, 6% smaller than our poll in June and the same as our poll in May, suggesting a reversal of the surge in popularity that Democratic candidate experienced in June. Nonetheless, it is important to note that the 1% change between July and August falls within the margin of error of this poll. Altogether, our final numbers are as follows:
Joseph R. Biden (Democrat) 48% (-)
Donald J. Trump (Republican) 41% (+1)
Jo Jorgensen (Libertarian) 2% (+1)
Howie Hawkins (Green) 1% (-)
Other (Another Third Party / Write-In) 1% (-1)
Don’t Know 7% (-2)
In the last month, there has been a notable rise (+6%) in the proportion of the US public who consider that they are certain to vote. At this stage, 69% of respondents to our poll say they are ‘certain to vote’, compared to 63% of those who were polled on 9 July. 80% of likely Trump voters and 81% of likely Biden voters are certain to vote.
The enthusiasm gap between both candidates remains relatively constant, despite increases for both candidates. Whereas in July 59% of likely Trump voters said they felt very excited to vote for him, this figure grew by 4% to 63% in August. However, the percentage of likely Biden voters who feel very excited to vote for him also increased – from 42% in July to 48% in August, resulting in the overall gap between the candidates narrowing by 2%.
For the first time, a majority of respondents who indicated they will vote for Biden say they are doing so primarily because they support Joe Biden (57%) rather than primarily because they oppose Donald Trump (43%). In July, 54% of likely Biden supporters stated that they were likely to support the Democratic candidate because of their opposition to Donald Trump, rather than primarily because they support Joe Biden (46%). Meanwhile, an overwhelming majority (83%) of respondents who indicated they will vote for Trump say they are doing so primarily because they support Donald Trump, a slight rise from the 80% of Trump supporters who held this view in July.
The US public remains sharply split on who they think is more likely to win the 2020 Presidential Election. Overall, 38% of respondents say Joe Biden is more likely to win, while 36% believe Donald Trump is more likely to win. Moreover, 13% consider that Joe Biden and Donald Trump are equally likely to win, and a further 13% don’t know at this stage. It is evident that there is no broad consensus about the likely outcome of the election at this stage.
Coronavirus and the Economy
President Trump’s overall job approval rating has continued to improve in the past month, going from net -5% approval in July to net -3% approval in August. The President’s approval rating has improved by 8% since June, when it stood at -11%
Trump’s approval rating has improved despite a rapid rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the US between our polls: cases have risen from below 3 million on 9 July, to over 5 million on 12 August. A clear plurality (49%) of respondents do not think that President Donald Trump is doing as much as he could to reduce the spread of coronavirus, while 40% think he is. Notably a majority (51%) of older respondents aged 65+ consider that Trump is not doing as much as he could.
Public disapproval of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic is also emphasised by the fact that 40% of respondents consider that Joe Biden would have handled the coronavirus pandemic better. 28% believe Biden would have handled the coronavirus pandemic worse, while 16% think it would have made no difference if Joe Biden was President instead. Notably, 9% of likely Trump voters believe Biden would have handled the crisis better.
Although the Biden campaign is increasingly arguing that Trump is to blame for the damage to the US economy caused by the coronavirus pandemic, respondents appear split: 43% believe Trump is to blame, while 44% consider Trump is not to blame.
On the question of who could lead the country into a stronger economic recovery, the public remains relatively divided: 41% believe Donald Trump is more likely to lead the country into a strong recovery, while 37% think Joe Biden is more likely. These findings represent a slight shift in Trump’s favor compared to July, when 38% believed Joe Biden is more likely to lead the country into a strong economic recovery.
Kamala Harris Impact
Shortly prior to the poll, Joe Biden selected Senator Kamala Harris of California as his vice-presidential running mate. Harris is well known nationally: 80% of the US public have heard of the Senator.
A plurality (47%) of Americans approve of Joe Biden’s decision to select Kamala Harris as the Democratic nominee for Vice President. Only 23% of voters disapprove of the selection, while 24% neither approve nor disapprove. The selection of Harris is popular among Biden’s base: 78% of likely Biden voters support the decision. Although a clear plurality (45%) of Trump voters disapprove of the selection, 18% approve, yet it is unclear whether this approval is due to a belief that Harris’ selection will increase the chances of a Trump victory.
Overall, the selection of Harris might have a positive impact on Biden’s chances of winning the election in November. A third (33%) of Americans say they are more likely to vote for the Democratic ticket in the 2020 Presidential Election following the nomination of Harris, while 23% say they are now less likely. Nevertheless, a plurality (38%) are neither more nor less likely to vote for the Democratic ticket in the 2020 Presidential Election.
Notably, over a quarter of the US public think it is likely that Kamala Harris will replace Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee for President prior to the election in November. On the other hand, 43% think it is unlikely, while 21% believe it is equally as likely as it is unlikely.
Moreover, a plurality (41%) of respondents consider that it is likely Kamala Harris will replace Joe Biden at some point during his first term if he is elected as President, while less than a third (29%) believe it is unlikely. Two thirds (66%) of likely Trump voters hold the opinion that Harris will replace Biden during his first term would be a likely outcome.
Significantly, a plurality (39%) of US voters agree that Kamala Harris is the real Presidential candidate, not Joe Biden. Less than a third (32%) disagree that Harris is the real candidate, while 23% neither agree nor disagree. Interestingly, a quarter (25%) of likely Biden voters consider Harris to be the real candidate.
Altogether, as we edge closer towards the November election, Joe Biden maintains a strong 7% lead over President Trump, despite (or perhaps because of) many perceiving that Harris will replace him during his first term. Harris’ entry into the race just may have a significant impact, as many consider her to be the ‘real candidate’ and believe it is likely she will take over from Biden during his first term. Harris’ popularity appears high, although it remains unclear whether her high approval ratings will sustain increased scrutiny.
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.