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More Voters Trust Biden on Race Relations

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Increase in views that outbreak is hurting Trump

West Long Branch, NJ – Joe Biden currently holds an 11-point lead over Donald Trump in the presidential race as more voters say they trust the challenger to handle race relations in the country. The latest national Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll also finds somewhat more confidence in Biden’s ability to handle the post-pandemic recovery efforts with more voters thinking that the outbreak will hurt Trump’s reelection prospects than said the same two months ago. Most voters feel that limitations on holding in-person events during the pandemic will have no impact on the campaign’s tone.

Biden currently has the support of 52% of registered voters and Trump has the support of 41%. The Democrat’s lead has been slowly widening. It stood at 50% to 41% last month, 48% to 44% in April, and 48% to 45% in March.

“The race continues to be largely a referendum on the incumbent. The initial reaction to ongoing racial unrest in the country suggests that most voters feel Trump is not handling the situation all that well,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. [Note: Most of the interviewing for this poll was completed before Trump’s appearance outside the White House on Monday.]

One-third of voters (33%) say that race relations will be a major factor in their vote for president this year and another 17% say it will be a minor factor. About half (49%) say it will not be a factor at all in their vote choice. More voters of color (44%) than white voters (27%) say that race relations will be a major factor. However, there are partisan differences among white voters who feel this way – ranging from 48% of white Democrats to 35% of white independents and just 4% of white Republicans who say that race relations will be a major factor in their decision.

Overall, more voters express confidence in Biden than say the same about Trump when it comes to handling race relations. Just over half have confidence in Biden’s ability to deal with this issue (17% a great deal and 35% some), while 17% do not have much confidence and 29% have none at all. Only 4 in 10 voters, though, have confidence in Trump (22% a great deal and 18% some), while 10% do not have much confidence and fully half – 50% – have none at all.

Republicans tend to hold extreme views on both candidates’ abilities. Nearly 6 in 10 GOP voters (58%) have a great deal of confidence in Trump’s ability to handle race relations and an identical 58% have no confidence at all in Biden. On the other hand, nearly all Democrats (89%) have no confidence at all in Trump on this issue, but just 32% say they have a great deal of confidence in Biden. However, most of the remaining Democratic voters express some confidence (53%) in his ability to handle race relations. Few independents have a great deal of trust in either Trump (12%) or Biden (13%) on this issue, but they are far more likely to express no confidence at all in the incumbent (50%) versus the challenger (27%).

“The lack of a public campaign during the pandemic may be hurting Trump, but it is not necessarily helping Biden. Trump has not been able to lean on the large rallies that generate positive feedback for him, but Biden has not been much of a presence at all on the public stage. Many voters think the Democrat could do a good job, but they haven’t seen enough of him to judge for certain,” said Murray. [Note: The poll was conducted before Biden’s speech in Philadelphia on Tuesday.]

Turning to the post-pandemic recovery, just under half of the nation’s voters have either a great deal (33%) or some (14%) confidence in Trump’s ability to deal with the recovery, while 12% do not have much confidence and 40% have none at all. Just over half have either a great deal (18%) or some (36%) confidence in Biden’s ability to deal with the recovery, while 12% do not have much and 33% have none at all.

The fact that more voters have a great deal of confidence in Trump than Biden when it comes to the coronavirus recovery is due to greater certainty among the president’s partisan base. Among Republican voters, 74% have a great deal of confidence in Trump and 75% have none at all in Biden. In comparison, while 70% of Democrats have no confidence at all in Trump’s ability to handle the recovery, just 34% say they have a great deal of confidence in Biden.

“Biden may have issued a multipoint recovery plan for the coronavirus outbreak, but it’s a bit like the proverbial tree falling in an empty forest. Even if you are a Democrat, it’s a little difficult to express your full-throated endorsement of a plan you haven’t heard about,” said Murray.

More voters think that Trump’s handling of the outbreak has made it less likely (38%) rather than more likely (18%) that he will be reelected in November. This marks a shift from April when opinion on this question was almost evenly divided (31% less likely to 27% more likely). Another 41% say that Trump’s handling of the pandemic will have no impact on his reelection prospects, which is up slightly from 36% two months ago.

The poll also finds that favorability ratings for both candidates have dipped in the past month. Trump registers a negative 38% favorable to 57% unfavorable opinion, which is more negative than prior polls. The incumbent had a 40% favorable to 53% unfavorable rating in May, a 42% to 50% rating in April, a 46% to 49% rating in March, and a 44% to 53% rating in February. Biden’s rating stands at 42% favorable and 49% unfavorable, which compares with 41% to 44% in May, 41% to 42% in April, 43% to 43% in March, and 40% to 53% in February. The number of voters with no opinion of Biden increased from 8% in February to 17% in April. This has decreased to 9% in the current poll, with most of that opinion shifting into the unfavorable column.

The Monmouth University Poll also posed a generic ballot test for the U.S. House of Representatives election, which shows 52% of voters currently supporting the Democratic candidate in their district and 43% backing the Republican. This result is similar to last month’s poll (52% to 42%) as well as to polling at a similar point in the last midterm election (48% to 41% in June 2018). Democrats went on to win the national House vote by 8 points that November (53% to 45%).

Voter optimism has dipped slightly since earlier this spring. Currently, 62% feel optimistic about the 2020 presidential election, which is down slightly from 65% in March. Another 34% feel pessimistic, which is up from 27% three months ago. The drop has occurred among partisans on both sides of the aisle, but Republicans (76%) remain more optimistic than Democrats (58%) overall. Optimism among independents has been holding fairly steady and currently registers at 55%.

The poll also finds that most voters think the coronavirus outbreak will have little impact on the tone of the race. When asked about having fewer in-person campaign events due to the outbreak, 19% see this as a good thing and 21% see this as a bad thing, but 59% say it does not matter to them. Slightly more voters say that fewer in-person events will lead to a more negative (23%) than more positive (12%) campaign overall, but 62% say this will make no difference to the tone of the 2020 campaign.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from May 28 to June 1, 2020 with 807 adults in the United States. The results in this release are based on 742 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.)

[Q1-3 previously released.]

[Q4-27 held for future release.]

28. 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?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSJune
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
Certain to vote86%80%82%86%
Likely to vote 9%12%10%10%
Not sure 3%6%5%3%
Unlikely to vote2%2%2%1%
(VOL) Definitely won’t vote0%0%1%0%
(n)(742)(739)(743)(754)

29. 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?]

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS (with leaners)June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
Donald Trump41%41%44%45%
Joe Biden52%50%48%48%
(VOL) Other candidate5%3%5%3%
(VOL) No one1%1%1%0%
(VOL) Undecided1%5%3%4%
(n)(742)(739)(743)(754)

30. If the election for U.S. House of Representatives was held today, would you vote for the Republican or the Democratic candidate in your Congressional district? [ITEMS WERE ROTATED] [If UNDECIDED: At this time do you lean more toward the Republican or more toward the Democratic candidate?]

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS (with leaners)June
2020
May
2020
Republican43%42%
Democratic52%52%
(VOL) Other candidate 1%1%
(VOL) No one1%0%
(VOL) Undecided4%5%
(n)(742)(739)

[QUESTIONS 31 & 32 WERE ROTATED]

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

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSJune
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
Feb.
 2020
Jan.
2020
Dec.
2019
Nov.
2019
Sept.
2019
Very favorable26%24%24%29%35%35%33%34%30%
Somewhat favorable12%16%18%17%9%8%13%10%13%
Somewhat unfavorable9%9%7%7%6%4%5%4%6%
Very unfavorable48%44%43%42%47%51%47%50%50%
No opinion5%7%7%5%3%2%2%2%3%
(n)(742)(739)(743)(754)(827)(847)(838)(835)(1,017)

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

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSJune
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
Feb.
 2020
Jan.
2020
Dec.
2019
Nov.
2019
Sept.
2019
Very favorable15%15%15%18%16%19%18%18%20%
Somewhat favorable27%26%26%25%24%23%25%25%26%
Somewhat unfavorable18%16%17%17%17%16%16%17%18%
Very unfavorable31%28%25%26%36%33%34%33%27%
No opinion9%16%17%13%8%8%7%7%9%
(n)(742)(739)(743)(754)(827)(847)(838)(835)(1,017)

33. Has Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak made it more likely or less likely that he will be reelected in November, or has it made no difference either way?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSJune
2020
April
2020
More likely18%27%
Less likely38%31%
No difference41%36%
(VOL) Don’t know2%6%
(n)(742)(743)

[QUESTIONS 34 & 35 WERE ROTATED]

34. How much confidence do you have in Donald Trump’s ability to handle the post-pandemic recovery – a great deal, some, not much, or none at all?

REGISTERED VOTERSJune
2020
Great deal33%
Some14%
Not much12%
None at all40%
(VOL) Don’t know0%
(n)(742)

35. How much confidence do you have in Joe Biden’s ability to handle the post-pandemic recovery – a great deal, some, not much, or none at all?

REGISTERED VOTERSJune
2020
Great deal18%
Some36%
Not much12%
None at all33%
(VOL) Don’t know1%
(n)(742)

36. The coronavirus outbreak has made it more likely that there will be fewer in-person campaign events this election season. From your perspective, will having fewer in-person campaign events be a good thing or a bad thing, or doesn’t it matter to you?

REGISTERED VOTERSJune
2020
Good thing19%
Bad thing21%
Doesn’t matter59%
(VOL) Don’t know1%
(n)(742)

37. Do you think having an election with fewer in-person events will lead to a more positive or more negative campaign overall, or will it make no difference to the tone of the campaign?

REGISTERED VOTERSJune
2020
More positive12%
More negative23%
No difference62%
(VOL) Don’t know3%
(n)(742)

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

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSJune
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
Feb.
2020
Very optimistic31%30%28%34%35%
Somewhat optimistic31%34%34%31%30%
Somewhat pessimistic19%17%17%15%18%
Very pessimistic15%12%12%12%12%
(VOL) Neither, don’t care2%3%4%3%3%
(VOL) Don’t know2%3%6%5%2%
(n)(742)(739)(743)(754)(827)
COMPARISON: REGISTERED VOTERSJune
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
Feb.
2020
2016:Aug.
2016
June
2015
Optimistic62%64%62%65%65% 55%69%
Pessimistic34%29%29%27%30% 39%25%
(VOL) Neither2%3%4%3%3% 3%4%
(VOL) Don’t know2%3%6%5%2% 3%2%
(n)(742)(739)(743)(754)(827) (803)(829)

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

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

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSJune
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
Feb.
2020
2016:Aug.
2016*
June
2015*
More enthusiastic28%26%23%30%39% 21%21%
Less enthusiastic24%21%17%17%21% 46%22%
About the same47%52%59%52%40% 31%57%
(VOL) Don’t know0%1%1%1%1% 2%1%
(n)(742)(739)(743)(754)(827) (803)(829)

     *Asked about the 2016 Presidential election

[B1-B7 previously released.]

[NOTE: QUESTIONS B8-B10 WERE ONLY ASKED 5/29-6/1; n=696, m.o.e= +/-3.7%]

B8. Will race relations be a major factor, minor factor, or not a factor in your vote for president this year?

REGISTERED VOTERSJune
2020
Major factor33%
Minor factor17%
Not a factor49%
(VOL) Don’t know1%
(n)(696)

[QUESTIONS B9 & B10 WERE ROTATED]

B9. How much confidence do you have in Donald Trump’s ability to handle race relations – a great deal, some, not much, or none at all?

REGISTERED VOTERSJune
2020
Great deal22%
Some18%
Not much10%
None at all50%
(VOL) Don’t know0%
(n)(696)

B10. How much confidence do you have in Joe Biden’s ability to handle race relations – a great deal, some, not much, or none at all?

REGISTERED VOTERSJune
2020
Great deal17%
Some35%
Not much17%
None at all29%
(VOL) Don’t know2%
(n)(696)

[Q40-57 held for future release.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from May 28 to June 1, 2020 with a national random sample of 807 adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 279 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 528 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. The results in this poll release are based on a subsample of 742 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 (ACS 2018 one-year survey). 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  
 
29% Republican
38% Independent
33% Democrat
 
48% Male
52% Female
 
26% 18-34
21% 35-49
30% 50-64
22% 65+
 
65% White
13% Black
16% Hispanic
  6% Asian/Other
 
68% No degree
32% 4 year degree
 
 

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

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs