The Story in Six Swing States

May 21, 2020
Coronavirus | Healthcare | The Economy | USA Elections

This page provides only the summary analysis of our latest research across six US Swing States.

As part of its research into the 2020 Presidential Election, Redfield & Wilton Strategies conducted polls of registered voters in six key states: Arizona, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. All six of these states were won by Donald Trump in 2016. With the exception of Arizona and North Carolina, these states were also won by Barack Obama in 2012. It is highly likely that the result of the 2020 election will be determined by these so-called swing states.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joseph Biden leads against Donald Trump in all six polls. His leads are greatest in the Midwest and lowest in North Carolina and Florida. However, a significant number of respondents who are likely to vote indicated that they did not know how they will vote. In every state but Florida, a higher percentage of those who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 than of those who voted for Hillary Clinton indicated that they did not know how they would vote, indicating that public voting sentiment may still swing in Donald Trump’s favor. Moreover, the President’s overall approval rating was positive in three states. When asked whether they thought Donald Trump was more likely to win or to lose his re-election bid, respondents themselves tended to give the President favorable odds of winning.

The two main policy areas prioritized by likely voters are the economy (around 40% in each state) and healthcare (around 23% in each state). For President Donald Trump, the emphasis voters place on the economy may help him, as around 40% of respondents in each state cited his handling of the economy as a compelling reason to vote for him. 42% to 47% agreed with a statement saying the economy is more likely to mount a strong recovery if Donald Trump is re-elected. In each state, fewer respondents disagreed. At the same time, respondents do not seem optimistic of a quick recovery, with three-quarters to 80% of respondents aligning themselves with a statement saying the US Economy will need some time to recover. Moreover, majorities in all six states indicated that their concerns are closer towards fearing the lockdown and social-distancing measures active across the United being eased too quickly than being extended for too long.

With respects to the coronavirus crisis, majorities in four states (and 49% in the other two states) said no, the President has not handled the crisis well. His approval ratings for his handling of the coronavirus crisis specifically is worse than his overall approval rating. About 40% in each state think a President Joe Biden would have handled the crisis better. Majorities of no more than 60% think the extent to which the coronavirus has spread through the United States could have been avoided. Looking forward, respondents’ expectations aligned closer to the rate of spread of the virus being slowed rather than reduced to zero. Closer to home, respondents tended to approve of their respective Governors’ decisions to issue a stay-at-home order as well as their decisions to either extend or ease such measures.

Meanwhile, Candidate Joe Biden is struggling with the Tara Reade allegation. His alleged misconduct with women is one of the most compelling reasons cited by respondents not to vote for him. At least three quarters of respondents had heard of this allegation. Of this group, about two-thirds in each state thought the allegation was either ‘more’ or ‘just as’ credible as Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh from Fall 2018. 16% to 24% of those who are currently likely to vote for Biden in November say he should be replaced as a direct consequence of this allegation. In all six states, more than a third of those who are likely to vote for Biden in November would altogether prefer he be replaced with someone else, such as a Governor who has performed well during the coronavirus crisis.

Respondents tend to remember the past two presidencies by Democratic Presidents positively. More than a quarter cite Biden’s relationship with former President Obama and nearly a third in every state cited his positions on healthcare and important domestic issues as compelling reasons to vote for him. Respondents are more likely to think that the Democratic candidate “cares about people like me,” “can bring America together,” “understands the problems afflicting America,” and “can work with foreign leaders.” To his detriment, respondents generally did not think the former Vice President “tells the truth,” “is in good physical and mental health,” or “will be tough on China.”

The key strong points for the Republican candidate, on the other hand, appear to be that he “knows how to get things done,” “reflects America’s can-do spirit,” “stands up for America’s interests,” and––in particularly strong contrast to his opponent––“will be tough on China.” Nonetheless, “his character” is cited by 34% to 42% of respondents as a compelling reason not to vote for him.

This page provides only the summary analysis of our latest research across six US Swing States.

This research was also published in The Telegraph.

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.