Even though the presidential election is less than four months away, a poll conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies on the 9th of July found that virtually half (49%) of likely Biden voters would support Biden standing down as candidate in favour of another Democrat who was shown to have a greater chance of winning. A plurality (41%) of likely Trump voters would similarly support Trump standing down if another Republican candidate appeared more likely to win. However, while 34% of likely Trump voters oppose changing their party’s nominee, only 19% of likely Biden voters feel the same.
When asked about alternative candidates they would pick, likely Biden voters primarily rallied behind Michelle Obama, while Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren also attracted a fair amount of support. Only 9% of likely Biden voters said they do not know who they would pick to replace him if he chose to stand down, which is likely thanks to the crowded Democratic field in the primaries earlier this year.
The alternative candidates that garnered the most support were Mike Pence (39%), Donald Trump Jr. (32%), and Ted Cruz (17%). However, 21% of likely Trump voters said they did not know what alternative candidate they would support, which is likely a product of Republicans not having had to consider alternative candidates since the 2016 election.
Among the Democratic crowd, the popularity of Michelle Obama is remarkable given that she has never expressed interest in running for President, but it may be indicative of significant nostalgia among likely Biden voters for the Obama years. While such a high number would perhaps lead some to consider having Michelle Obama as Vice Presidential candidate, the Democratic side would be wise to consider that a majority (51%) of total respondents agree that Biden’s pitch to the American voter is more about returning to how things were before Trump than a vision of a new future. Would the Democratic Party actually want to increase that perception?
Furthermore, the majority (54%) of likely Biden voters are voting for him primarily because they oppose Donald Trump, compared to 46% who are voting for Biden primarily because they support him. By contrast, 80% of likely Trump voters say they are voting for him primarily because they support Trump compared to just 20% who are voting for Trump primarily because they oppose Biden.
After the heat of the primary race, Democrats still show doubt over whether they made the right choice in nominating Joe Biden. If Trump continues to lag in the polls as a result of his performance during the coronavirus crisis, this doubt may subside. However, the high enthusiasm among likely Trump voters for their chosen nominee and their greater degree of comfort voting in person given the coronavirus situation may make the difference in determining the turnout and results in November.