In addition to voting intention, one important question to ask respondents to our polls is who they themselves think will win the election. Back in May, we at Redfield & Wilton Strategies asked respondents in six US swing states the following question: Taking aside whether you want him to win or to lose, how likely do you think President Donald Trump is to win or lose his re-election bid? In May, we found that in all states, a plurality of respondents believed that Trump was more likely to win than to lose.
In all six states, belief in who is going to win correlates strongly with partisan lines. For example, belief among 2016 Trump voters that their preferred candidate will be re-elected in November lies within a range of 62% to 74%. It is also interesting to note that a significant minority of former Hillary supporters suspect that Trump will have another four years at the White House: in Pennsylvania, for instance, 11% of those who voted for Clinton in 2016 believe that Donald Trump is set to win in November.
In Michigan (36%) and Wisconsin (34%), a plurality of respondents believe that Joe Biden will win in November. Notably, in these two states, 11% and 12% of those who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 forecast a Biden victory.
While this question can serve as a measure of confidence and belief among likely voters in their respective candidates, it remains to be seen whether the public’s predictions on who will win the Presidency will impact voter turnout in November. Strong belief that a certain candidate will win may motivate some voters to turnout, while convincing others that their vote will not matter. For example, if voters in these swing-states believe that their least favoured candidate will win, a fear of losing may well drive up turnout, yet voters may also be resigned to defeat and not make the effort to cast their ballot. Conversely, if members of the public think that their candidate will win, their positive outlook may motivate them to vote, yet they may also act with complacency and not turn-out in high numbers.
Regardless, this question can be useful. Not only would it measure confidence among a candidate’s supporters, but it can also highlight whether an election result would come as a surprise to the public or as something expected. At this moment, given the roughly even split among the swing states, and the high proportion of respondents saying ‘equally likely’ or ‘don’t know,’ it is clear that swing states voters recognize that it is only June and there is a long way to go until November.
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.