US National Voting Intention
(October 17-18)

October 20, 2020
R&WS Research Team
Approval Rating | Coronavirus | Donald Trump | Joe Biden | US Elections | US Politics | US Presidential Election 2020 | Vote by Mail | Voting Intention

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Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest US national voting intention poll finds Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by 11%, an increase of 3% since last week. Altogether, our final results (with changes from October 10 in parentheses) are as follows:

Joseph R. Biden (Democrat) 51% (+2)

Donald J. Trump (Republican) 40% (-1)

Jo Jorgensen (Libertarian) 1% (–)

Howie Hawkins (Green) 1% (–)

Other (Another Third Party / Write In) 1% (–)

Don’t Know 6% (-1)

Likelihood to vote remained stable, with 70% this week saying they have already voted or are certain to vote. However, as Election Day approaches, the proportion that has already voted increased from 14% to 22% over the course of the past week. The percentage of those voting for Joe Biden who said they already voted increased from 22% to 32%. Among respondents saying they were voting for Donald Trump, this percentage increased from 9% to 18%.

While early voting figures may appear especially promising for Joe Biden, they might not provide an accurate picture of this election. Only 23% of respondents voting for Joe Biden say they are voting in person on election day. The majority (53%) are voting by mail. By comparison, just a quarter of those voting for Donald Trump say they are voting by mail, while nearly half (48%) will be voting in person on election day. Clicking on the first chart in this write up, above, will allow you to see how the voting intention results will look by means of voting.

Of those voting by mail, 55% say they have sent their signed and completed ballot to their county’s board of elections, an increase from 40% one week prior. 6% say they have not yet requested their ballot, a decrease from 13% (which may also be partly explained by fewer respondents this week saying they were voting by mail, compared to last week).

Coronavirus Pandemic: Optimism versus Pessimism

The above figures on postal versus in-person voting are broadly reflective of how 62% of likely Donald Trump voters say they would feel ‘comfortable’ or ‘very comfortable’ voting in person on Election Day, compared to only 32% of likely Joe Biden voters.

Beyond voting in-person on Election Day, likely Joe Biden are also noticeably more likely to say they feel unsafe going to a restaurant or bar (especially indoors), shopping for groceries, visiting a friend’s house, greeting a friend with a handshake, or even going outside their home at all.

In fact, optimism or pessimism regarding the coronavirus pandemic differs between these two groups of voters. Respondents who said they were voting for Donald Trump were more likely to believe ‘the worst is behind us’ with respect to the timeline of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, while respondents who said they were voting for Joe Biden were significantly more likely to believe ‘the worst is ahead of us.’

When prompted with a statement suggesting that the coronavirus pandemic would be over in a year’s time, a majority of respondents voting for Donald Trump agreed. A plurality of those voting for Joe Biden disagreed.

In terms of policies, this difference between optimism and pessimism translates to likely Donald Trump voters leaning towards wanting coronavirus regulations to be less restrictive (even at the risk of a rise in coronavirus cases), while likely Joe Biden voters leaned more strongly towards wanting coronavirus regulations to be more restrictive (even at the risk of further damage to the economy).

The Final Debate

In lieu of a debate, last week featured two town halls for each candidate. 37% and 38% respectively said they watched Donald Trump’s and Joe Biden’s town halls, although these groups did not overlap entirely.

This week will feature the second and final Presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. 57% of respondents said they will watch it.

The Enthusiasm Gap

Enthusiasm for voting for Donald Trump returned to where it was a month ago, with 61% of those voting for Donald Trump saying they were ‘very enthusiastic’ about voting for their candidate. Likewise, for the first time in a month, more than half of those voting for Joe Biden said they were ‘very enthusiastic’ about voting for their candidate.

Meanwhile, there have been only slight changes with regards to who respondents think is more likely to win the election.

With two weeks to go until Election Day, Joe Biden continues to lead nationally by a considerable margin. A third of his voters say they have voted already, but time is running out for the rest of those voting by mail. The USPS advises postal voters to send in their ballots one week prior to the election at the latest. One final Presidential debate will take place on Thursday, giving the President one final chance to change voters’ minds about him. As he continues to campaign aggressively, he will also look to maximize in person voting among his supporters who generally feel more comfortable going outside and taking part in regular activities despite the coronavirus pandemic.

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. Follow us on Twitter

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