Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest weekly voting intention poll for the US Presidential Election finds Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by 10%, which represents a 3% increase in Biden’s lead compared to last week. These results suggest that the Biden campaign is continuing to experience momentum following the selection of Kamala Harris as his Vice Presidential nominee. Moreover, the attention surrounding this week’s virtual Democratic National Conference may be providing a boost to Biden. Altogether, our latest results are as follows:
Joseph R. Biden (Democrat) 49% (+1)
Donald J. Trump (Republican) 39% (-2)
Jo Jorgensen (Libertarian) 1% (-1)
Howie Hawkins (Green) 1% (-)
Other (Another Third Party / Write In) 1% (-)
Don’t Know 9% (+2)
Likelihood to vote remains slightly higher than in July, when 63% of respondents said they would certainly vote, but did decrease slightly in the past week from 69% to 66%. Nonetheless, likelihood to vote remains very similar between the likely voters of both candidates: whereas last week 80% of likely Trump voters and 81% of likely Biden voters said they would certainly vote, the figures this week are 76% of likely Trump voters and 77% of likely Biden voters saying they will certainly vote. This 1% difference in likelihood to vote between the supporters of the two candidates falls within the margin of error of the poll.
The Enthusiasm Gap
This week, there was a noticeable decrease in the proportion of likely Trump voters who say they feel “very enthusiastic” about voting for Trump, with the proportion falling from 63% last week to 56% this week. Meanwhile, the proportion of likely Biden voters who say they feel “very enthusiastic” about voting for Biden increased slightly from 48% to 49%. Thus, primarily as a result of the decrease in enthusiasm among likely Trump voters, the enthusiasm gap between the two candidates essentially halved this week from 15% to 7%. Our polling in the coming weeks will confirm whether the lower levels in enthusiasm among likely Trump voters this week are part of a trend or an anomaly.
For the second week in a row, a greater proportion of likely Biden voters say they will vote for the Democratic candidate primarily because they support him (53%) rather than because they oppose Trump (47%). Prior to last week, however, a majority of likely Biden voters consistently said they were voting for Biden primarily due to their opposition to President Trump. Our result this week provides a degree of confirmation that last week’s result was not anomalous, and that Biden is having some success in generating enthusiasm for his own candidacy. It is possible that his selection of Kamala Harris as his Vice Presidential nominee could partly explain this trend.
On the other hand, despite the decrease in enthusiasm among likely Trump voters, virtually the same proportion this week (81%) as last week (83%) say they are voting for Trump primarily because they support him, rather than because they oppose Biden. Thus, whereas Biden has faced the challenge of generating enthusiasm for his own candidacy in order to help drive turnout, the President continues to benefit from being seen by most of his likely voters as their top choice, rather than as the lesser of two evils.
The public increasingly perceive that Biden is most likely to win the election in November: whereas last week 38% of respondents thought Biden was more likely to win and 36% thought Trump was more likely to win (a difference within the margin of error), this week 40% think Biden is most likely to win and 31% think Trump is most likely to win. Once again, it is possible that this 7% increase in Biden’s lead over Trump with regards to this question is a manifestation of the momentum generated by the Kamala Harris announcement. Polling in the coming weeks will confirm whether Biden can sustain this momentum, and, if so, whether it impacts the likelihood to vote of the two candidates’ likely supporters.
Despite Biden’s gains and the slight decrease in enthusiasm among likely Trump voters, the President’s approval rating remained at net -5%, which is the same as last week. Our poll this week found that 42% approve and 47% disapprove of the President’s overall job performance since taking office. Interestingly, 10% of those who voted for Trump in 2016 now say that they disapprove of his job performance. On the other hand, 14% of those who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 now say that they approve of the President’s overall job performance.
Coronavirus and Economic Recovery
The President’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic is one of the main reasons for his high disapproval rating. Indeed, our poll finds that only 28% think Donald Trump is the most likely of the two candidates to see an end to the coronavirus pandemic. On the other hand, a plurality (43%) think Joe Biden is the most likely candidate to see an end to the pandemic. This plurality includes 9% of those who voted for Trump in 2016, but only 4% of those who intend to vote for the incumbent President this November.
Despite the clear scepticism of the public about the President’s ability to manage the public health emergency, the public remains divided about whether Trump is to blame for the damage to the US economy caused by the pandemic. Virtually the same proportion think that President Trump is to blame (45%) as those who think he is not to blame (42%) for the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic. These figures are essentially unchanged from last week.
On the other hand, an increasing proportion of the public believe that Biden could lead the country into a stronger economic recovery than Trump. Whereas last week 41% selected Trump and 37% chose Biden as the candidate most likely to lead the country into such a recovery, the figures were reversed this week, and now 45% think Biden is most likely to deliver a strong economic recovery, compared to 38% for Trump. This change represents a net -11% decrease in the proportion of respondents who consider that Trump is best positioned to lead the American economy to recovery. However, as with all results that represent a sharp departure from the trend, it is important to be cautious until results from future polling can confirm whether this is an outlier result, or a new trend.
Kamala Harris, A Week Later
Our poll last week was conducted shortly after Joe Biden announced that Kamala Harris would be his Vice Presidential nominee. We found that 47% of respondents approved of this choice and only 23% disapproved. A week later (and following a significant amount of media coverage of the announcement), we find that 49% approve and 24% disapprove of Biden’s choice of Harris as his running mate, a difference to last week that falls within the margin of error of this poll.
Similarly, the proportion who say that Harris being on the Democratic ticket makes it more likely they will vote for Biden increased slightly from 33% last week to 35% this week. Thus, it appears that the first week of Harris being on the ticket has not produced any substantial changes in whether the public approves of her selection or not. Nevertheless, Biden’s gains this week in overall voting intention and the enthusiasm gap suggests that Harris has so far had a positive impact on the Democratic ticket, or at least has not detracted from its momentum. Our weekly polling will continue to monitor how voting intention evolves as Election Day approaches.