Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest weekly national voting intention poll in the US finds Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by 8% in the race for the Presidency. In a tumultuous week which included the first Presidential Debate and President Trump being admitted into hospital with coronavirus, Joe Biden’s lead has decreased by 2% (a change that falls just within the margin of error of this poll). At this stage, 50% of voters think they will vote for Joe Biden––no change from last week­­––whereas support for Donald Trump rose by 2 points to 42%. The proportion of undecided voters dropped by 1 point to 6%. Altogether, our latest results are as follows:

Joseph R. Biden (Democrat) 50% (–)

Donald J. Trump (Republican) 42% (+2)

Jo Jorgensen (Libertarian) 1% (-1)

Howie Hawkins (Green) 1% (–)

Other (Another Third Party / Write In) 1% (–)

Don’t Know 6% (-1)

Likelihood to vote rose compared to last week, when a total of 68% of respondents said they would vote or had already voted. Currently, 65% are certain they will vote, while 8% have already voted, adding up to 73% (five points higher than last week). 80% of likely Donald Trump voters say they will certainly vote or have already voted, while 84% of likely Joe Biden voters say they are certain to vote or have already voted. 

The Debates

This week’s national poll is the first conducted since the first Presidential Debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Over two thirds (69%) of those polled said that they watched the first debate last Tuesday, while 31% did not watch the debate.

Last week, we found that 53% of likely Donald Trump supporters expected him to deliver a 10 out of 10 debate performance, while just 36% of likely Joe Biden voters believed the former Vice President would deliver a performance worthy of top marks. Our latest findings highlight that both of the candidates failed to deliver on the expectations of their base. Only 24% of likely Donald Trump voters believe that he delivered a 10 out of 10 performance, while 23% of likely Joe Biden voters think his performance was perfect.

Joe Biden performed better in the eyes of those who didn’t vote in 2016: 35% of non-voters from four years ago hold that Biden’s performance was worthy of a mark of 8 or higher, in contrast to just 16% for Trump.

Based on what they saw in the debate, 51% of those who watched the debates picked Joe Biden as the candidate who would do the most to fight for them and for their interests. Meanwhile, 41% picked Donald Trump.

The breakdown to this question is heavily partisan: 1% of likely Biden voters picked Trump and 3% of likely Trump voters picked Biden. As such, impressions from the debate appear to have more or less matched where voters were prior to the debate.

With Donald Trump’s admission into hospital, and the respective ages of the candidates competing for President, this week’s Vice Presidential debate will receive an unusually high level of scrutiny. Indeed, a clear majority (60%) now say they will watch the Vice-Presidential Debate between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence, a rise of 12 points since last week.

In fact, as a likely consequence of the uncertainty regarding future debates between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, the percentage of the public that says they will watch the Vice-Presidential Debate is currently higher than the proportion that say they will watch the remaining Presidential Debates (57%).

The Enthusiasm Gap

The proportion of likely Donald Trump voters who say they feel “very enthusiastic” about voting for the incumbent President slightly declined for the fifth consecutive week, this time falling from 56% to 55%, which is ten points lower than at the start of September. Meanwhile, the proportion of likely Joe Biden voters who say they feel “very enthusiastic” about voting for the Democratic candidate also decreased slightly by 1 point to 48%. However, it must be noted that a decrease in enthusiasm could, paradoxically, signal a rise in support with so-called ‘reluctant voters’ deciding to support a given candidate. In the case of Joe Biden, his significant 8% lead alongside the lower level of enthusiasm among his voters could be indicative of him capturing such voters.

Electoral Process

Overall, 40% intend to cast their vote in person on Election Day, 2% lower compared to a week ago (within the margin of error). Currently, 20% intend to vote (or have already voted) in person prior to Election Day, a rise of 2 points since last week and also within the margin of error of this poll. Meanwhile, 35% will vote by mail (or have done already), an increase by 2 points compared to last week. Just 4% are yet to decide by what means they will vote, a decline of 3 points since last week.

The proportion of likely Donald Trump voters who will vote in person on election day has declined by 3 points to 55%. The proportion of Joe Biden voters who will vote in person on election day has declined by 5% to 30%. 22% of likely Donald Trump voters intend to vote by mail, in comparison to 47% of likely Joe Biden voters.

At this point, 53% of those who intend to vote by mail have received a ballot, an increase of 17% since last week. A quarter (25%) of those who will vote by mail have sent a completed and signed ballot to their county’s Board of Elections, while a further 28% have received their ballot but are yet to complete it and send it to their county’s Board of Elections. 36% have requested their ballot but have not yet received it in the mail, and 11% have not yet requested their ballot.

The proportion of respondents who agree with the statement “I have trust in the integrity of the electoral process in the United States,” has risen by 5% to 55%. Only around a fifth (19%) now disagree with the statement.

With the election less than a month away, respondents remain divided on each candidates’ chances in November, with 36% believing Joe Biden is more likely to emerge as the winner and 33% saying Donald Trump (changes since last week which are both within the margin of error). A further 16% say the candidates are equally likely to win, while 16% don’t know.

Key Policy Areas

As the election draws nearer, the economy and healthcare are increasingly coming into focus as the two central issues. A clear plurality (38%) now say that the economy is the policy area which is most likely to determine how they vote in the November Presidential Election. The proportion of respondents who consider the economy as the central issue has risen by 8% since last week. Following the economy, healthcare is the most important electoral issue for 25%, a proportion which is 4% higher than last week.

The American public is equally divided on which candidate they think is more likely to lead a strong economic recovery: 39% believe that Joe Biden is (a decrease of 3% compared to last week), yet 39% consider that Donald Trump is (an increase of 3% compared to last week). This even breakdown is notable, given that the former Vice President leads by 8% in our voting intention result.

However, Joe Biden leads considerably as the candidate who respondents think would do the most to end the coronavirus pandemic. 43% of respondents say he will do the most to see an end to the crisis, against 31% saying President Trump will do so.

12% meanwhile, said the two candidates are equally likely to do the most to end the pandemic. This difference here will be crucial if voters believe that the economy can only go back to normal when the pandemic is fully over.

Overall, Joe Biden’s national lead remains substantial with less than a month until Election Day. Likelihood to vote continues to rise, while absentee ballot application deadlines approach rapidly. Although it seems that the first Presidential Debate had a limited impact on the race, the Vice-Presidential candidates have an opportunity to make their mark on the campaign in front of millions of voters this week.

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.

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