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Tight Race for President

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Decrease in voters who say their finances are improving

West Long Branch, NJ – Joe Biden holds a negligible 3 point lead over Donald Trump in the race for president, according to a national Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll. The probable Democratic nominee has a larger edge, though, among voters in key swing counties across the country. The poll also finds that fewer voters say their financial situation is improving compared to a year ago, although most say it is stable for now.

 Biden has the support of 48% of registered voters and Trump has the support of 45% if the presidential election was today. Another 3% say they would vote for an independent candidate and 4% are undecided. Biden has an 89% to 6% advantage over Trump among Democratic voters, while Trump has a similar 90% to 7% lead among Republicans. Independents split 45% for Trump and 44% for Biden.

“The race looks tight right now between Trump and the probable Democratic nominee. But as we learned in 2016, the outcome will be determined by the Electoral College rather than the national popular vote. The poll results suggest Biden may actually be starting out with an advantage in crucial swing areas of the country,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

In the nearly 2,500 “red” counties that Trump won by an average of 36 points in 2016, his current standing for this year’s election is similar at 63% who support him and 32% who support Biden. In the 360 “blue” counties that Hillary Clinton won by about 35 points on average, 60% of voters support Biden and 30% back Trump.  In approximately 300 “swing” counties where the margin of victory was less than ten points for either candidate – accounting for about one-fifth of the total U.S. electorate – 50% back Biden compared with 41% who support Trump. In 2016, Clinton won the cumulative vote in these counties by a single percentage point.

The poll also finds that Biden has a substantial 56% to 34% advantage over Trump among voters under 35 years old.  Trump has a 53% to 40% lead among voters aged 35 to 54, while Biden has a small edge of 50% to 46% among voters aged 55 and older. Other key demographic groups break along typical partisan lines.  Biden has overwhelming support among women of color (77% to 14%), strong support among white women with a college degree (63% to 33%), and sizable support among men of color (53% to 39%).  Trump holds strong leads among white women without a college degree (66% to 29%) and white men without a college degree (58% to 34%). He has a smaller edge among white men who are college graduates (51% to 44%).

2020 PRESIDENTIAL SUPPORT by RACE, GENDER, EDUCATION
  TOTAL White men, no college degree White men, college graduates Men of other races, Latino White women, no college degree White women, college graduates Women of other races, Latino
Donald Trump 45% 58% 51% 39% 66% 33% 14%
Joe Biden 48% 34% 44% 53% 29% 63% 77%
REP advantage –3 +24 +7 –14 +37 –30 –63
               

Both candidates have seen improvements in their personal ratings over the past month. Biden currently has a split 43% favorable to 43% unfavorable rating among voters, which is up from his 40% to 53% rating in February. Trump registers a slightly negative 46% favorable to 49% unfavorable opinion, but that is better than his 44% to 53% rating last month. For Biden, the shift in favorability has come mainly from Democrats, as he went from the back of the primary pack to the probable nominee. He currently has an 80% favorable to 11% unfavorable rating among Democratic voters, which is up from 69% to 23% last month. Trump’s improvement has come mainly from independents – now at 45% favorable to 47% unfavorable with this group, up from 42% to 55% in February.

The Monmouth University Poll also asked about voters’ finances. Most (62%) say their current financial situation is stable, while 25% say they are struggling and just 12% say their situation is improving. Compared to a year ago, more voters say their situation is either stable (55% in April 2019) or struggling (20% in 2019), while fewer say it is improving (24% in 2019). Just over half of the electorate (52%) currently says that federal actions over the last three years have had no impact on their financial situation. Another 29% say the federal government actions have helped them and 18% say those actions have hurt them financially.

“The coronavirus situation is just starting to hit American family finances. It will be important to track these trends and the impact they might have on the 2020 presidential contest,” said Murray.

Voters are split on whether Trump is giving enough attention to the issues that are most important to them (47%) or if he should be giving those issues more attention (48%). This is a slight improvement for the president from last summer (42% giving enough attention to 54% wish he would give more attention in June 2019).

The poll also finds that nearly two-thirds of American voters say they are either very (34%) or somewhat (31%) optimistic about the 2020 presidential election. These results are basically unchanged from last month (35% very and 30% somewhat optimistic).  Thirty percent say they are more enthusiastic about voting this year compared to past elections, 17% are less enthusiastic, and 52% feel the same level of enthusiasm. This is a slight shift from February, when 39% felt more enthusiastic, 21% less enthusiastic, and 40% the same. The dip in feeling more enthusiastic has come mainly from Republicans (36%, down from 47%) and independents (21%, down from 34%). On the other hand, fewer Democrats feel less enthusiastic about November’s election now (18%) than said the same last month (30%).

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from March 18 to 22, 2020 with 851 adults in the United States. The results in this release are based on 754 registered voters and have a +/- 3.6 percentage point sampling margin of error.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS     

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

[Q1-10 previously released.]

11. How likely is it that you will vote in the November election – are you certain to vote, likely to vote, are you not sure, or are you unlikely to vote?

REGISTERED VOTERS March
2020
Certain to vote 86%
Likely to vote  10%
Not sure  3%
Unlikely to vote 1%
(VOL) Definitely won’t vote 0%
(n) (754)

12. If the election for President was today, would you vote for … Donald Trump the Republican or Joe Biden the Democrat? [NAMES WERE ROTATED] [If UNDECIDED: If you had to vote for one of the following candidates at this moment, who do you lean toward – Donald Trump or Joe Biden?]

REGISTERED VOTERS March
2020
Donald Trump 45%
Joe Biden 48%
(VOL) Other candidate 3%
(VOL) No one 0%
(VOL) Undecided 4%
(n) (754)

[QUESTIONS 13 & 14 WERE ROTATED]

13. Is your general impression of Donald Trump very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable, or do you have no opinion?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS March
2020
Feb.
 2020
Jan.
2020
Dec.
2019
Nov.
2019
Sept.
2019
Very favorable 29% 35% 35% 33% 34% 30%
Somewhat favorable 17% 9% 8% 13% 10% 13%
Somewhat unfavorable 7% 6% 4% 5% 4% 6%
Very unfavorable 42% 47% 51% 47% 50% 50%
No opinion 5% 3% 2% 2% 2% 3%
(n) (754) (827) (847) (838) (835) (1,017)

14. Is your general impression of Joe Biden very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable, or do you have no opinion?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS March
2020
Feb.
 2020
Jan.
2020
Dec.
2019
Nov.
2019
Sept.
2019
Very favorable 18% 16% 19% 18% 18% 20%
Somewhat favorable 25% 24% 23% 25% 25% 26%
Somewhat unfavorable 17% 17% 16% 16% 17% 18%
Very unfavorable 26% 36% 33% 34% 33% 27%
No opinion 13% 8% 8% 7% 7% 9%
(n) (754) (827) (847) (838) (835) (1,017)

15. Do you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the 2020 presidential election?  [Is that very or somewhat optimistic/pessimistic]?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS March
2020
Feb.
2020
Very optimistic 34% 35%
Somewhat optimistic 31% 30%
Somewhat pessimistic 15% 18%
Very pessimistic 12% 12%
(VOL) Neither, don’t care 3% 3%
(VOL) Don’t know 5% 2%
(n) (754) (827)
COMPARISON: REGISTERED VOTERS March.
2020
Feb.
2020
2016: Aug.
2016
June.
2015
Optimistic 65% 65%   55% 69%
Pessimistic 27% 30%   39% 25%
(VOL) Neither 3% 3%   3% 4%
(VOL) Don’t know 5% 2%   3% 2%
(n) (754) (827)   (803) (829)

2016 QUESTION WORDING: Thinking about the 2016 election, do you feel optimistic or pessimistic about electing a new president?

16. Compared to past elections, are you more enthusiastic than usual, less enthusiastic, or about the same as past elections?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS March
2020
Feb.
2020
2016: Aug.
2016*
June.
2015*
More enthusiastic 30% 39%   21% 21%
Less enthusiastic 17% 21%   46% 22%
About the same 52% 40%   31% 57%
(VOL) Don’t know 1% 1%   2% 1%
(n) (754) (827)   (803) (829)

     *Asked about the 2016 Presidential election

17. Thinking about your current financial situation, would you say you are struggling to remain where you are financially, basically stable in your current financial situation, or is your financial situation improving?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS March
2020
April
2019
April
2018
Jan.
2017
Struggling 25% 20% 23% 28%
Stable 62% 55% 52% 53%
Improving 12% 24% 24% 19%
(VOL) Don’t know 1% 1% 1% 0%
(n) (754) (711) (681) (708)

18. Have the actions of the federal government over the past three years helped, hurt, or had no real impact on your financial situation?

REGISTERED VOTERS March
2020
Helped 29%
Hurt 18%
No real impact 52%
(VOL) Don’t know 2%
(n) (754)

19. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with President Trump, has he been giving enough attention to the issues that are most important to your family or do you wish he would give more attention to issues that are important to your family?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS March
2020
June
2019
Nov.
2018
Sept.
2017
Aug.
2017
May
2017
March
2017
Giving enough attention 47% 42% 40% 38% 42% 35% 39%
Wish he’d give more attention 48% 54% 55% 53% 50% 61% 54%
(VOL) Don’t know 5% 4% 5% 8% 9% 4% 7%
(n) (754) (660) (716) (857) (706) (896) (722)

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from March 18 to 22, 2020 with a national random sample of 851 adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 340 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 511 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. The results in this poll release are based on a subsample of 754 registered voters. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information (CPS 2018 supplement). Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Dynata (RDD sample). For results based on the registered voter sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
REGISTERED VOTERS  
 
30% Republican
35% Independent
35% Democrat
 
49% Male
51% Female
 
28% 18-34
34% 35-54
38% 55+
 
65% White
13% Black
15% Hispanic
  7% Asian/Other
 
66% No degree
34% 4 year degree
 
 

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and crosstabs by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs

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