Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest US national voting intention poll of 5,745 US adults finds Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by 10%, a decrease of 1% since last week. Altogether, our final results (with changes from October 17-18 in parentheses) are as follows:

Joseph R. Biden (Democrat) 51% (–)

Donald J. Trump (Republican) 41% (+1)

Jo Jorgensen (Libertarian) 1% (–)

Howie Hawkins (Green) 1% (–)

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

Don’t Know 5% (-1)

Early Voting

Likelihood to vote increased slightly by 2 points, with 72% this week saying they have already voted or are certain to vote. With just over a week to go until Election Day, a third (33%) say they have already voted, compared to 22% last week. The percentage of those voting for Joe Biden who say they have already voted increased by 12% from 32% to 44%. Among respondents saying they were voting for Donald Trump, this percentage increased by 11 points from 18% to 29%.

While Joe Biden voters are significantly more likely to have cast their ballot by this point, only 23% of Biden’s voters intend to vote in person on election day, compared to 52% who say they will vote by mail (absentee ballot). By contrast, 45% of likely Donald Trump voters will vote in person, on election day, and only 28% will vote by mail. A similar proportion of each candidate’s supporters will vote in person, prior to 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.

Among those voting by mail, 70% have sent their completed and signed ballot to their county’s Board of Elections, increasing from 55% last week. Notably, 6% have not yet requested their ballot, which is the same proportion as a week ago. A further 7% have requested their ballot but have not yet received it in the mail, and 17% have received their ballot but are yet to complete it or send it to their county’s Board of Elections.

Over three-quarters (76%) of those who intend to vote for Joe Biden via mail-in ballot have sent off their completed and signed ballot, compared to 69% of likely Donald Trump supporters who say they will vote using the absentee ballot method.

Nevertheless, only half (50%) of those who have already sent their completed and signed ballot to their county’s Board of Elections have received confirmation that their ballot has been received. A further 27% have not received confirmation but expect to eventually, while 23% do not anticipate receiving any confirmation that their ballot has been received. A clear majority (55%) of Joe Biden voters who have voted by mail have received confirmation their ballot has been received, compared to only 39% of likely Donald Trump supporters. A number of US States do not notify absentee ballot voters that their votes have been received.

Record early voting figures this year come at a time when those voting for the Democratic nominee tend to feel particularly uncomfortable voting in-person given the ongoing coronavirus situation. Overall, a third (33%) of all likely Joe Biden supporters would feel uncomfortable casting their ballot in person, compared to just 16% of all likely Donald Trump voters. Although most of those who would feel uncomfortable voting in person are likely to have cast their ballot via mail-in, 10% of those who would feel uncomfortable voting in person also say they intend to cast their ballot on election day.

The degree of discomfort that voters have with voting in person has not changed substantially across several months. Over several polls conducted in July, August, September and October, we have found between 22-25% of all respondents saying they would be ‘very uncomfortable’ or ‘uncomfortable’ voting in person, including between 27-33% of likely Joe Biden voters, and 12-18% of likely Donald Trump voters. It appears a significant factor behind the Democratic Party’s early voting push has been that their voters are afraid about in-person voting.

Due to the logistical complexity of mail-in ballots and the discrepancy in how likely Donald Trump voters and likely Joe Biden voters intend to vote, it is very possible that the election result will not be known for some time after the Election Day on November 3rd. A majority (52%) of likely Joe Biden voters and almost half (49%) of likely Donald Trump voters believe that their favored candidate should wait to see how the situation develops, even if it does appear that they are losing or that they have lost the election. This result marks no change from a fortnight ago. An increasingly small proportion of respondents (16%) say Joe Biden or Donald Trump should concede the election in these circumstances. Donald Trump voters (24%) remain slightly more likely to favor the incumbent President calling for a recount than voters for Joe Biden (21%).

Enthusiasm for Voting

For several months, our polling has consistently underlined that likely Donald Trump supporters display significantly higher levels of enthusiasm about voting for the incumbent President than likely Joe Biden showcase to vote for the former Vice President. This trend has continued into the penultimate week of the campaign: 60% of likely Donald Trump voters are very enthusiastic about voting for the incumbent President, compared to 50% of likely Joe Biden supporters who say they are very enthusiastic about casting their ballot for the former Vice President.

Although greater enthusiasm among Donald Trump supporters could suggest that voters who favor the incumbent President may be more motivated to complete the voting process, our research this week demonstrates that likely voters for each candidate are equally likely to be ‘very enthusiastic’ about voting in this election. Overall, 56% of the US public are very enthusiastic about casting a ballot during the 2020 cycle, including 61% of likely Joe Biden supporters and 61% of likely Donald Trump voters, highlighting once again that a sizable segment of Biden’s voters is highly motivated to vote not for the Democratic candidate but against Donald Trump.

Despite Joe Biden’s commanding lead in overall voting intention, a plurality (47%) think that most of their neighbors and the people living in their area are voting for Donald Trump, while 43% think that their neighbors are voting for Joe Biden. Indeed, around a quarter (23%) of likely Joe Biden voters think most of their neighbors are voting for Donald Trump, while just 12% of likely Donald Trump voters believe most of their neighbors are casting their ballot for Joe Biden. This result may be due the relatively higher levels of enthusiasm among those voting to re-elect Donald Trump. Another possible explanation, as the first chart highlights, can be found in the fact that Joe Biden holds a significant lead among voters who disagree that they know their neighbors well and trust them. As such, some of those who intend to vote for the former Vice President could be proscribing voting attitudes they oppose towards neighbors they neither know well nor trust.

Meanwhile, there has been a minimal change with regards to who respondents think is more likely to win the election. Currently, 37% of Americans believe Joe Biden is more likely to win, while 32% think Donald Trump is. 17% don’t know, and 14% say the main candidates are equally likely to win.

The Final Debate

This week’s national poll was conducted shortly after the final Presidential Debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Overall, 60% of those polled said they watched the final debate. By contrast, 69% watched the first debate on 30 September.  

A fifth (20%) of Americans believe that Donald Trump delivered a ten out of ten performance at the final Presidential Debate, which is substantially greater than after the first debate (11%). By contrast, 17% of the US public consider Joe Biden’s final debate performance deserves full marks, compared to 14% who considered the former Vice President gave a 10 out of 10 showing at the first debate. Ultimately, in contrast to the first debate, more Americans think Donald Trump gave a performance worthy of full marks than believe Joe Biden did. However, a similar percentage considered Donald Trump’s performance was 8 out of 10 or higher (40%), as said Joe Biden’s was (42%).

Among likely Joe Biden supporters, the overwhelming majority (69%) think the former Vice President gave a performance worthy of a mark of 8 out of 10 or higher. Notably, 83% of likely Donald Trump voters say his performance at the final debate was 8 out of 10 or above, compared to just 49% who held this view of his showing at the first debate. Clearly, Donald Trump’s supporters were much more satisfied with his performance at the final debate than at the first contest.

Despite greater satisfaction among likely Donald Trump supporters, a clear majority (54%) say that Joe Biden is the candidate who would do the most to fight for them and their interests. Just 41% say Donald Trump is the candidate who would do the most for them, the same proportion as last time.

Three weeks ago, our research noted that voters were increasingly aligning with the views of Donald Trump. Despite the President’s debate performance being perceived more positively, 19% of respondents continue to fully align with President Trump across ten key issues, a proportion which has not changed since three weeks ago. Moreover, an average of 27% consider themselves completely unaligned with the President, an increase of 3% since the start of the month.

Prior to the first debate, an average of 16% of Americans aligned themselves completely with Joe Biden’s views across ten key issues, while 19% held opinions they considered completely unaligned with the former Vice President. At this stage, an average of 18% believe they are completely aligned with the former Vice President, while 16% on average view themselves as completely unaligned.

Better or Worse Off

In the sole debate of the 1980 Presidential Campaign, Republican challenger Ronald Reagan posed a question to voters which boosted his campaign and has been crucial in all Presidential Elections since: “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” In our latest polling, an equal proportion of the American public consider themselves to ‘better off” (29%) as believe they are worse off (29%) when compared to four years ago. A plurality (36%) say they are in about the same position as October 2016.

A clear plurality (43%) of those who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 think they are better off than they were when the President was elected, while 36% say they are in the same position, and 16% consider themselves worse off. Meanwhile, 40% of Hillary Clinton voters say they are worse off, while 38% report being in about the same position as 2016, and 18% think they are better off.

Around a fifth (19%) of those who intend to vote for Joe Biden in the 2020 Presidential Election are better off than they were when his term as Vice President ended, highlighting that a substantial proportion of voters are voting based upon reasons other than personal circumstance. Nevertheless, a slight plurality (39%) of Joe Biden voters feel worse off relative to where they were four years ago, while 37% say they are in the same position. Among likely Donald Trump voters, 45% consider themselves better off, 35% believe their circumstances have not changed, and 15% believe they are worse off.

Notably, there is no discernible differentiation depending on the level of formal education respondents have received: 30% of those who graduated from high school but did not complete higher education view themselves as better off, in contrast to 29% of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, and 29% of those who have not graduated high school. 

Among those who say they are better off, 57% consider that Donald Trump is a key factor that has contributed to their life improving, while 36% do not. Answers are strongly partisan: 87% of likely Donald Trump supporters believe his Presidency has contributed to their life improving, while 82% of likely Joe Biden voters say it has not.

Similarly, among those who say they are worse off, 60% consider that Donald Trump is a key factor that has contributed to their life deteriorating, while 30% do not.

Although respondents are equally divided on how the last four years has impacted their personal situation, a strong majority (56%) of Americans say the country is worse off now than it was four years ago. Furthermore, only around a quarter (24%) think the country is better off than it was four years ago. Just a tenth (11%) say the country is in the same position now as four years ago, and 9% don’t know.

Notably, nearly a quarter (23%) of likely Donald Trump voters say the country is ‘worse off’ than it was in 2016, although it is likely that a substantial proportion of this group does not hold the President responsible for what they perceive as America’s decline. Indeed, a majority (53%) of Donald Trump voters think that the country is better off. By contrast, only 5% of likely Joe Biden voters think the country is better off than when Donald Trump was elected, and an overwhelming majority (83%) think it is worse off. Among those who don’t know who they will vote for, nearly half (48%) consider the country worse off, while 8% think it is better off and 13% say it is in the same position as in 2016.

With a week to go until Election Day, Joe Biden continues to lead the national race by a significant margin. However, less than half of his voters say they have voted already, with time running out for the rest of those voting by mail and in person prior to election day. The final Presidential debate had a limited impact on the race, and voters are on average somewhat more likely to align themselves with the views of Joe Biden, rather than Donald Trump. In the final week of campaigning, Donald Trump can point to the fact that a substantial proportion of Americans feel better off than when his Presidency started, despite his administration contending with the coronavirus crisis this year.

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.

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