Latest USA Voting Intention
(September 16 – 17)

September 19, 2020
R&WS Research Team
Approval Rating | Coronavirus | Donald Trump | Joe Biden | The Economy | US Elections | US Presidential Election 2020 | Vote by Mail | Voting Intention

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Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest weekly voting intention poll for the US Presidential Election finds Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by 8%, which represents a 1% decrease in Joe Biden’s lead compared to last week (a change that falls within the margin of error). For the fourth week in a row, 49% of voters believe they will vote for Joe Biden, whereas support for Donald Trump increased by one percentage point to 41%. The proportion of undecided voters remained at 7% for the third week running. Altogether, our latest results are as follows:

Joseph R. Biden (Democrat) 49% (­­–)

Donald J. Trump (Republican) 41% (+1)

Jo Jorgensen (Libertarian) 2% (­­–)

Howie Hawkins (Green) 1% (–)

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

Don’t Know 7% (­­–)

Likelihood to vote increased by 4% compared to last week: 69% of respondents now say they will certainly vote. Significantly, likely Biden voters are now 8% more likely to say they will certainly vote compared to last week, with the proportion now reaching 81%, up from last week’s 73%. The proportion of likely Biden voters who say they will certainly vote now outweighs the proportion of likely Donald Trump voters who will certainly vote, which stands at 79% compared to last week’s 80%.

The Enthusiasm Gap

The proportion of likely Donald Trump voters who say they feel “very enthusiastic” about voting for him declined for the second consecutive week, this time falling from 64% to 60%. Meanwhile, the proportion of likely Joe Biden voters who say they feel “very enthusiastic” about voting for the Democrat remains broadly stable at 51%, one point lower than last week’s figure but equal to that of two weeks ago.

An overwhelming majority (78%) of likely Donald Trump voters continue to say they will vote for the incumbent President primarily because they support him, rather than because they oppose Joe Biden (22%).

On the other hand, less than half (49%) of likely Biden voters say they are voting for the Democratic candidate primarily because they support him rather than because they oppose Trump, which is down four points from last week. The proportion of likely Biden voters basing their decision off their opposition to Donald Trump now forms a majority (51%) for the first time in our polling.

Trump supporters report deciding who they would vote for sooner than Biden supporters. The majority of likely Trump voters decided ‘more than a year ago’ how they were going to vote, compared to many likely Biden voters who report deciding in the last six months, which may be in part due to voters waiting to see the result of the Democratic Primary Elections before deciding on their pick for President.

Contested Result?

Due to the logistical complexity of mailed ballots and the discrepancy in how likely Trump voters and likely Biden voters intend to vote, it is highly possible that the election result will be contested. While Trump is projected to win in-person polling on the day, the eventual reception of mail-in ballots would swing the final result in Biden’s favour. 

So far, nearly 4 in 5 of voters voting by mail say they have yet to receive their election ballot in the mail.

In the circumstance of a contested election, a plurality of respondents say they would trust the Supreme Court to come to a decision regarding the outcome of the election. Interestingly, this trust does not break across partisan lines at this moment in time.[1]

When presented with the statement, “I have trust in the integrity of the electoral process in the United States,” only half of respondents agreed. Likely Trump voters were somewhat more likely to agree (59%) with this statement than likely Biden voters (49%), and were also less likely to disagree (15% ) than likely Biden voters (28%), perhaps a consequence of the years-long Mueller investigation into the 2016 election and also recent media spotlights on changes at the USPS.

At this stage, a very slight plurality (36%) of total respondents believe Donald Trump is more likely to win the election than Joe Biden (34%). The proportion of respondents who believe that the incumbent President will be re-elected has increased gradually across our recent polling. This virtually even split suggests that, should there be a contest result, the population does not, at this moment, have a consensus view on the likely outcome of this election.

Coronavirus and Key Policy Areas

The President’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic appears to be a key reason why he continues to trail Joe Biden. A clear majority (58%) of the US public continues to believe that the extent to which the coronavirus pandemic has so far spread within the United States could have been avoided. Partisan loyalty appears to be strengthening as the election approaches: fewer than a third (31%) of those likely to vote for Donald Trump in 2020 say the spread of the pandemic could have been avoided, a proportion which has declined over the past two weeks. On the other hand, the overwhelming majority (82%) of likely Joe Biden voters believe that the current impact of coronavirus could have been avoided, and this proportion has also increased over the past two weeks.

Although the public generally considers the President’s handling of the public health crisis to have been inadequate, the economy remains the most significant issue for November: a third (33%) of the US public say that the economy is the key policy area likely to determine how they vote in November. Following the economy, 23% say healthcare policy will be most likely to determine their vote, while a further 8% plan to make their decision based on law and order issues.

While the plurality believes that economic issues will be central in determining how they vote, the US public are evenly divided on which candidate is best suited to lead a strong economic recovery to the COVID recession.

Despite trailing in the polls throughout the summer, there are encouraging signs for Donald Trump’s campaign, most noticeably his slightly improved approval rating (now -3% compared to -7% a week ago). Nevertheless, Biden’s 8% lead remains a considerable margin for Trump to surmount, especially as likelihood to vote has risen among probable Democrat voters.  

[1] Note: Poll conducted prior to the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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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