Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest weekly voting intention poll of 3,000 registered voters in the US finds Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by 10% at the national level in the race for the Presidency, representing a 1% increase in Joe Biden’s lead compared to last week (a change that falls within the margin of error of this poll). At this stage, 50% of voters say they will vote for Joe Biden and 40% say they will vote for Donald Trump. Meanwhile, the proportion of undecided voters remained at 7% for the fifth week running, which might change in the coming weeks as the Presidential Debates get underway. Altogether, our latest results are as follows:

Joseph R. Biden (Democrat) 50% (–)

Donald J. Trump (Republican) 40% (-1)

Jo Jorgensen (Libertarian) 2% (–)

Howie Hawkins (Green) 1% (–)

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

Don’t Know 7% (–)

Likelihood to vote remained stable compared to last week, when 68% of respondents said they would vote. This week we also included the option for respondents to indicate they have already voted, given that some states have already started to send out absentee ballots. The poll found that 4% of respondents have already voted, while a further 64% say they will certainly vote, adding up to the 68% from last week who said they would certainly vote. Significantly, 81% of likely Donald Trump voters said they will certainly vote or have already voted, in contrast to 77% of likely Joe Biden voters. This finding is in stark contrast to a week ago, when Biden voters were 5% more likely than likely Trump voters to say they were ‘certain to vote’.

The Debates

The proportion who said they will watch the Presidential Debates between Joe Biden and Donald Trump (due to start on Tuesday 29 September) has decreased by two points to 61% this week. A further 17% do not know whether they will watch the debates, while 22% say they will not watch the debates.

Nevertheless, among those who will watch the debates, a majority (58%) say they are unlikely to change whether or how they will vote based on what they see. Nevertheless, at this stage, 26% of those who will watch the Presidential Debates say are likely to change whether or how they will vote on the basis of the debates, a three-point increase since our previous polling.

Likely Donald Trump voters have greater confidence in the ability of their favoured candidate to deliver a 10 out of 10 performance: 53% of likely Trump voters think the President will deliver a 10 out of 10 performance, whereas only 36% of likely Biden voters think the former Vice President will offer a 10 out of 10 showing.

The Enthusiasm Gap

Nonetheless, the proportion of likely Donald Trump voters who say they feel “very enthusiastic” about voting for the incumbent President declined for the fourth consecutive week, this time falling from 58% to 56%, which is nine 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 remained at 49%. Overall, the “enthusiasm gap” that separates Joe Biden’s likely voters from Donald Trump’s likely voters has narrowed by 7% over the course of September. However, this change may not necessarily be negative for President Trump, as it could actually indicate that he is gaining more moderate, so-called ‘reluctant voters.’

The proportion of likely Donald Trump voters who say they will vote for the incumbent President primarily because they support him has risen by 1 point to 76% this week, a change that falls within the margin of error of this poll. Just 24% of those who will vote for the incumbent President are motivated primarily by their opposition to Joe Biden.

Meanwhile, likely Joe Biden voters are evenly split on whether their support is primarily because they support the Democratic candidate or because they oppose Donald Trump, with 50% falling on either side. The proportion of likely Joe Biden voters primarily supporting the former Vice-President rather than opposing Donald Trump has fallen by one point from last week.

Key Policy Areas

The economy remains the most significant issue for a plurality of voters ahead of November: 30% of the US public say that the economy is the key policy area likely to determine how they vote in November. Following the economy, healthcare is the most important electoral issue for 21% of respondents. Meanwhile, 9% say they will decide their vote primarily based on law and order issues, while a further 6% consider the environment to be their central issue.

The US public increasingly trusts Joe Biden on the economy. At the moment, 42% of Americans say that Joe Biden is more likely to lead a strong economic recovery, while just 36% believe the same for Donald Trump. This proportion represents a substantial five-point increase in Joe Biden’s lead on the economy when compared to last week.

Supreme Court Vacancy

In the week since our latest poll, President Trump has nominated Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. The opening of a Supreme Court vacancy has had little impact on half (50%) of all respondents, who are now neither more nor less likely to vote. However, 37% of respondents say they are now more likely to vote on the basis of the new Supreme Court vacancy.

Whereas a clear plurality (38%) say that the opening of a Supreme Court vacancy does not make them any more (or less) likely to vote for a particular candidate, a quarter (25%) of all respondents say they are now more likely to vote for Joe Biden due to the opening of a Supreme Court vacancy. This figure includes 5% of likely Donald Trump voters who say that the opening of this vacancy makes them more likely to vote for Biden. On the other hand, only 3% of likely Joe Biden voters (and 18% of the overall sample) say they are more likely to vote for Donald Trump now that there is this additional vacancy.

An overwhelming majority (83%) have not changed their mind on whether or how they are voting (not just for the President but also further down the ballot) due to the opening of a Supreme Court vacancy. On the other hand, 17% of the US public have changed their mind, including 19% of likely Donald Trump voters and 15% of likely Joe Biden voters.

Meanwhile, Coney Barrett’s nomination has had a limited impact on overall public trust in the Supreme Court. At this stage, a plurality (43%) of respondents say they would trust the Supreme Court to come to a fair decision regarding the outcome of the election, the same proportion as last week. Meanwhile, 32% of Americans would not trust the Supreme Court’s to come to a fair decision, an increase of two points since last week.

For the first time in our polling, however, a plurality of Joe Biden (40%) voters would not trust the Supreme Court to come to a fair decision, outweighing the minority (38%) that would. By contrast, the clear majority (56%) of likely Donald Trump voters continue to trust the Supreme Court to come to a fair decision, while less than a quarter (22%) would not. Among these two subgroups, there has been noticeable changes, in opposite directions, in the last three weeks.

A Contested Result?

Due to the logistical complexity of mail-in ballots and the discrepancy in how likely Donald Trump voters and likely Joe Biden voters intend to vote, it is highly possible that the election result will be contested. Overall, 42% intend to cast their vote in person on Election Day, the same proportion as last week.Meanwhile, 18% intend to vote in person prior to Election Day, a rise of 1 point since last week and within the margin of error of this poll.Finally, 33% say they will vote by mail (absentee ballot), a decrease by 2 points compared to last week. 7% of those who said they will certainly vote are nonetheless yet to decide the means by which they will vote in the Presidential Election.

The proportion of likely Donald Trump voters who will vote in person on election day has remained the same as last week at 58%. However, 35% of likely Joe Biden voters now say they will vote in person on Election Day, an increase of 4 points since last week.

So far, 36% of those who intend to vote by mail have received a ballot, an increase of 9% since last week. Meanwhile, 14% of those who intend to vote by mail have sent a completed and signed ballot to their county’s Board of Elections (up by two points from a week ago), while 63% have not yet received their ballot in the mail.

At this stage, voters are evenly split on the chances of each candidate in November, with 34% saying they think Donald Trump is more likely to emerge as the winner and the same percentage answering Joe Biden, who had trailed the incumbent by three points on this question last week.

Despite the public’s even split over who is most likely to win the election, Joe Biden’s 10% national lead remains a considerable margin for Donald Trump to surmount with just five weeks until Election Day, especially as Joe Biden is increasingly trusted as a candidate who can lead a strong economic recovery. Nevertheless, with millions of Americans set to tune into the Presidential Debates this week, Donald Trump has a key opportunity to close the gap on his Democrat rival.

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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