Across several months, Redfield & Wilton Strategies have monitored the attitudes of the US public regarding the personal characteristics of the two major Presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Joe Biden. At this stage, a majority of US respondents think that Biden is the candidate who best understands the problems afflicting America (50%) and who cares about people like them (52%) By contrast, only 37% of respondents think that Donald Trump is the candidate who best understands the problems afflicting America, and only 34% think that Trump is the candidate who cares the most about people like them.
Biden is also viewed as the most unifying of the two candidates, and also as the more honest one. Overall, we found that a strong plurality of the US public thinks that Biden is more likely than Trump to bring Americans together (49%) or to tell the truth (47%).
Notably, less than a third of respondents think that Donald Trump is more likely to bring Americans together than Biden (32%), or that Trump is more likely to tell the truth than Biden (30%). When looking at respondents’ voting intention, we found that those who will vote for Biden are more likely to answer that he tells the truth (87%), against 77% of likely Trump voters who think that the President tells the truth. Interestingly, 5% of likely Trump voters believe Biden is more likely to tell the truth, and nearly a fifth (19%) don’t know.
The incumbent President performs best in our poll in relation to his position towards China. Indeed, 47% of respondents think that Donald Trump is more likely to be tough on China than Biden, whereas 36% think Biden would be tougher on China than Trump.
This week’s results appear to confirm our prior research that Trump is best positioned on China in the eyes of the public. It also follows from our July poll which revealed that 62% of Americans consider China to be a threat to the US and its interests.
Although Americans broadly consider that Trump is more likely than Biden to be tough on China, nearly half of respondents say that Biden is the candidate who can best work with foreign leaders (49%), compared to 37% who think this about Trump. Moreover, a clear plurality (48%) believe Biden is the candidate most likely to stand up for the interests of the United States, whereas 41% think that Trump would be more likely. The two candidates are strongly opposed on issues around foreign policy, and respondents may believe that Trump’s “America First” agenda deprioritizes close ties with international leaders and organisations.
Lastly, regarding perceptions of each candidate’s handling of economic matters, our results point towards a clear divide. Our previous polling on economic issues has produced mixed results: on 12 August, a plurality considered that Trump would be more likely to lead a strong economic recovery. However, on 20 August, a plurality believed Biden would be most likely to deliver a strong economic recovery. At this stage, 44% of respondents think that Biden can get the economy going again and 43% believe that Trump can, a result which lies within the margin of error of this poll.
Public trust in the economic competency of the candidates is highly connected to voting intention: 95% of those who intend on voting for Trump in November believe that Trump is more likely to get the economy going again, whereas 85% of Biden voters think that Biden is more likely to do this. Although the public is strongly divided at a nationwide level, research conducted by us earlier in August highlights that a plurality of voters in the six swing states (Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) continue to trust Trump on the economy.
Overall, Biden scores relatively well in relation to personal characteristics, especially in regard to honestly or empathy. The President has repeatedly anchored his bid around his economic agenda, yet Biden may have closed Trump’s lead in regard to economic trust.However, Trump continues to score well when respondents are asked who will be tougher on China, although a plurality of US public also believe that Biden would do more to stand up for the country’s interests and to work well with foreign leaders. Redfield & Wilton Strategies will continue to monitor perceptions of Trump and Biden as Election Day gets closer, especially in the key swing states, and around the key issues of the economy and China.