Prior to the first Presidential debate on 29 September took place, Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ nationwide polling in the United States sought to identify how closely voters identify with the stances of each candidate on the core issues. To do so, we presented respondents with a list of issues and asked them to indicate on a 0 to 10 scale how closely they believed they aligned with Donald Trump’s stance on that issue. We then repeated the same process, but in relation to Joe Biden’s stances.
Depending on the issue, between 12-18% of respondents say they are fully aligned with President Trump’s stance (in other words, 10 out of 10 alignment). The issues with the highest proportion of respondents who expressed full alignment with the President were free speech (18%), the economy (17%), and immigration (17%). On the other hand, the lowest levels of full alignment with the President were on cultural issues (12%), healthcare (13%), foreign policy (14%), and religion (14%).
Across all issues, the proportion of respondents who say their views are fully unaligned with President Trump’s was much higher than the proportion who say their views are fully aligned. The issues where the highest proportion of respondents said they are fully unaligned the President’s stances are immigration (33%), cultural issues (32%), healthcare (32%), religion (32%), and America’s history (32%).
Altogether, 15% of respondents on average completely align themselves with the President’s views across the key issues, while double (31%) say they do not align themselves with the President at all on the issues.
Interestingly, a similar proportion of respondents said their views are fully aligned with Joe Biden’s (13-19%) as those who said their views are fully aligned with Donald Trump’s (12-18%). Similar to Donald Trump, a relatively high proportion of respondents completely aligns with Joe Biden’s stance on free speech (19%), but the same percentage also said they are fully aligned with Biden on healthcare (19% for Biden, compared to 13% for Trump). The former Vice President’s views on China (13%) and policing (14%) were least popular among the public.
Although a similar proportion of the public is completely aligned with the two candidates on the key issues, far fewer say they are fully unaligned with Joe Biden (17-20%) than those who say they are fully unaligned Donald Trump (28-33%). Overall, these figures are indicative of Biden being more of an unknown candidate than President Trump. Across all issues, on average, 16% completely align themselves with Joe Biden’s stances, while 19% do not align themselves with him at all.
Close analysis of the support base of each candidate is particularly revealing. Altogether, 30-44% of those who say they will vote for Donald Trump say their views are fully aligned with the President’s views. Meanwhile, 37-44% of likely Donald Trump voters say they are fully unaligned with Joe Biden’s views.
The President’s stances on immigration (44% fully align), free speech (43%), and policing (43%) are the most popular with his support base, while his views on healthcare (30%) and cultural issues (30%) are less popular. Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s supporters are most opposed to Joe Biden’s views on policing (44% not at all aligning), immigration (43%), and China (43%). Altogether, on average, 38% of Donald Trump’s likely voters say they are completely aligned with his views, and an average of 41% say they are fully unaligned with Biden’s views.
On the other hand, likely Joe Biden voters are far less likely to fully align with the views of their preferred candidate than they are to simply be fully unaligned with the views of Donald Trump. 24-36% of Joe Biden’s likely voters completely align themselves with their preferred candidate’s stances, with Biden’s views on free speech (36% fully align) and healthcare (35%) resonating the most with his likely voters. The views of the Democratic nominee on China (24% not at all aligning), foreign policy (26%), and the economy (26%) are the least popular within his base.
However, these figures are dwarfed by the proportion of Joe Biden’s supporters who do not align themselves at all (53-63%) with the President’s views. The President’s stances on immigration (63% not aligning at all) and cultural issues (60%) were the least appealing to Joe Biden’s supporters, Although Donald Trump’s views on the economy (53% not aligning at all), China (54%), and free speech (54%) were relatively less controversial among likely Biden voters, a majority still view themselves as completely unaligned with the President on these issues.
Altogether, 29% of Joe Biden’s likely voters say on average they are fully aligned with Biden’s views. In stark contrast, 57% of likely Biden voters say they are fully unaligned with the President’s views. This contrast highlights the extent to which many likely Joe Biden voters are united primarily in their opposition to Donald Trump.
In the debate on Tuesday, President Donald Trump attempted to draw out this characteristic about Joe Biden, with comments such as, “You just lost the left” and successfully getting his opponent to stake claims on policing and the Green New Deal. Whether this attempt at splitting Biden’s base of support has succeeded remains to be seen. As evidenced by our findings above, opposition to Donald Trump remains significantly strong enough for likely Biden voters that they appear to be willing to ignore the lower degree of alignment they have with their preferred candidate. Redfield & Wilton Strategies will see if any changes have occurred here in our next national poll.