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Election Meddling Concerns

Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020

Democrats suspect Russia, Republicans point finger at the Democrats

West Long Branch, NJ – American voters are simultaneously confident and concerned about the integrity of the upcoming election. While many Democrats are worried about Russian meddling, Republicans think the Democratic Party will be responsible for any election interference. The Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll also finds that Joe Biden currently holds a 10-point lead over Donald Trump in the presidential race.

Biden is currently supported by 51% of registered voters and Trump by 41%. The remaining vote is scattered across third-party candidates, including Libertarian Jo Jorgensen (2%), the Green Party’s Howie Hawkins (1%), and other candidates (1%), while 4% of voters are undecided.  This is similar to the Democrat’s late June lead of 52% to 39% with third-party candidates named and 53% to 41% without third-party candidates named. Biden’s edge stood at 52% to 41% in early June, 50% to 41% in May, 48% to 44% in April, and 48% to 45% in March.

Slightly more voters say they are certain about their support for Biden (39%) than say the same about Trump (35%). This is similar to the “firm support” gap in late June, when it was 40% Biden to 34% Trump. Fully half (50%) of registered voters continue to say they are not at all likely to support the incumbent (identical 50% in late June), while 40% say the same about the challenger (39% in late June).

“Trump has stopped his slide in the poll, but Biden maintains a lead among all registered voters nationally,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Voter opinion of Biden stands at 42% favorable and 47% unfavorable. It was 44%–44% in late June and 42%–49% in early June. Trump has a more negative 40% favorable and 54% unfavorable opinion. It was 38%–55% in late June and 38%–57% in early June. Combining these ratings finds that 39% have a favorable opinion of Biden only, 37% have a favorable opinion of Trump only, and 3% have a favorable opinion of both. Just over 1 in 5 registered voters (22%), though, do not have a favorable opinion of either candidate. Biden is the preferred presidential choice among this group by 55% to 17%.

Turning to how the upcoming election will be administered, just over 6 in 10 voters say they are confident – 21% very and 42% somewhat – that the November election will be conducted fairly and accurately. This includes majorities of Democrats (68%), Republicans (65%), and independents (57%) alike. Another 24% are not too confident and 12% are not at all confident in the how the fall election will be conducted.

At the same time most voters feel at least somewhat confident in how the election will be run, nearly 3 in 4 say they are concerned about the possibility that election meddling could undermine the integrity of the results (37% very concerned and 35% somewhat concerned). Concern over potential election meddling includes large majorities of Democrats (78%), Republicans (66%), and independents (70%). Overall, 39% of American voters express both confidence and concern in how the upcoming election will be run. Democrats (47%) are more likely than Republicans (36%) and independents (33%) to feel this way.

While majorities of all partisan groups are concerned about potential election meddling, they differ over the expected causes. A sizable number of Democratic voters who are worried about possible election meddling believe a foreign power will be involved, with 40% pointing the finger at Russia while 9% name China and 4% name another country. Far fewer Republicans, though, expect election interference from outside our borders (12% China, 6% Russia, and 3% another country).

A significant number of Democrats also expect that Trump (31%) along with the Republican Party (16%) will play a role in possible election meddling. Government election officials (5%), as well as the Post Office (2%), are also mentioned by concerned Democrats as potential culprits. A majority (55%) of GOP voters, on the other hand, believe the Democratic Party would be the most likely perpetrator of any election interference. Another possible cause named by Republicans is vote-by-mail (11%). Also, 4% of Republicans name Biden, 2% name Trump, 2% name the Republican Party, and 2% cite the media as potential sources of election meddling.

“The U.S. intelligence community has been unambiguous in calling out Russia, and to a lesser extent China, for both past and planned election interference. However, the Trump camp has been fairly successful in deflecting their supporters away from these actors and instead focusing on Democratic efforts to expand voting access,” said Murray.

A majority (58%) of American voters think it is a good idea to make it easier to cast ballots by mail this year. Another 37% say this is a bad idea. Nearly all Democrats (90%) say expanding vote-by-mail is a good idea but few Republicans (20%) agree. Six in ten (60%) independents say it is a good idea. Nearly half of all voters report they are either very (32%) or somewhat (17%) likely to cast their own general election ballot by mail. This includes 72% of Democrats and 48% of independents, but just 22% of Republicans.

The Monmouth University Poll finds that 64% of voters feel optimistic about the 2020 presidential election. Voter optimism was somewhat lower (55%) in August 2016, just after both parties’ nominating conventions. The shift in the current numbers is due mainly to Republicans – 81% feel optimistic now versus 61% in August 2016. The 4-year trend on this question is basically unchanged for Democrats (66% now and 67% in 2016) and independents (48% now and 40% in 2016).

Currently, 40% of American voters feel more enthusiastic about this election compared to past elections, 17% are less enthusiastic, and 43% say they feel about the same level of enthusiasm. There was far less enthusiasm four years ago when 21% felt more enthusiastic, 46% less enthusiastic, and 31% about the same. While Republicans are largely responsible for the increase in voter optimism compared to four years ago, voter enthusiasm has gone up the most among Democrats (47% feel more enthusiastic than usual now versus 20% in 2016). There have been smaller increases in feeling more enthusiastic among Republicans (42% now compared to 32% in 2016) and independents (31% now compared to 15% in 2016).

In terms of the candidates being able to put the country on the road to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, just under half express confidence in Trump – 30% very confident and 15% somewhat confident – while just over half feel less confident – 9% not too confident and 45% not at all confident. Biden does slightly better at 16% very confident and 32% somewhat confident versus 12% not too confident and 36% not at all confident.

“This is the type of result we have been seeing on issue questions throughout the campaign. Voters tend to have strongly held views of Trump, both positive and negative. Biden does slightly better in the net ratings overall. It’s just that voters don’t have as firm a sense of the challenger,” said Murray.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from August 6 to 10, 2020 with 868 adults in the United States. The results in this release are based on 785 registered voters and have a +/- 3.5 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.)

[Q1-12 held for future release.]

13. 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 VOTERSAug.
2020
Late June
2020
Early June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
Certain to vote85%85%86%80%82%86%
Likely to vote 10%10%9%12%10%10%
Not sure 3%3%3%6%5%3%
Unlikely to vote2%1%2%2%2%1%
(VOL) Definitely won’t vote0%0%0%0%1%0%
(n)(785)(733)(742)(739)(743)(754)

14. If the election for President was today, would you vote for … Donald Trump the Republican, Joe Biden the Democrat, Jo Jorgensen the Libertarian, Howie Hawkins of the Green Party, or another candidate? [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)August
2020
Late June
2020*
Late June
2020*
Early June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
Donald Trump41%39%41%41%41%44%45%
Joe Biden51%52%53%52%50%48%48%
Jo Jorgensen2%4%n/an/an/an/an/a
Howie Hawkins1%<1%n/an/an/an/an/a
Other candidate*1%2%4%5%3%5%3%
(VOL) No one1%<1%<1%1%1%1%<1%
(VOL) Undecided4%3%2%1%5%3%4%
(n)(785)(359)(733)(742)(739)(743)(754)

     * Late June poll asked two versions of the vote questions with and without 3rd party candidates named.

       “Other” was a volunteered response in March to early June polls.

[14A.  If Trump/Biden voter, ASK: Are you certain about your vote choice, or might you change your mind before election day?]

[QUESTIONS 15 & 16 WERE ROTATED]

15. What is the likelihood that you might vote for Donald Trump in November – very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not at all likely?

REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2020
Late June
2020
Certain for Trump (from Q14/A)35%34%
Very likely 2%2%
Somewhat likely 6%6%
Not too likely4%6%
Not at all likely50%50%
(VOL) Don’t know3%1%
(n)(785)(733)

16. What is the likelihood that you might vote for Joe Biden in November – very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not at all likely?

REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2020
Late June
2020
Certain for Biden (from Q14/A)39%40%
Very likely 4%3%
Somewhat likely 9%9%
Not too likely5%6%
Not at all likely40%39%
(VOL) Don’t know3%2%
(n)(785)(733)

[QUESTIONS 17 & 18 WERE ROTATED]

17. 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
Aug.
2020

Late June
2020

Early June
2020

May
2020

April
2020

March
2020

Feb.
 2020

Jan.
2020

Dec.
2019

Nov.
2019

Sept.
2019
Very favorable23%22%26%24%24%29%35%35%33%34%30%
Somewhat favorable17%16%12%16%18%17%9%8%13%10%13%
Somewhat unfavorable8%9%9%9%7%7%6%4%5%4%6%
Very unfavorable46%46%48%44%43%42%47%51%47%50%50%
No opinion7%7%5%7%7%5%3%2%2%2%3%
(n)(785)(733)(742)(739)(743)(754)(827)(847)(838)(835)(1,017)

18. 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
Aug.
2020

Late June
2020

Early June
2020

May
2020

April
2020

March
2020

Feb.
 2020

Jan.
2020

Dec.
2019

Nov.
2019

Sept.
2019
Very favorable17%16%15%15%15%18%16%19%18%18%20%
Somewhat favorable25%28%27%26%26%25%24%23%25%25%26%
Somewhat unfavorable14%13%18%16%17%17%17%16%16%17%18%
Very unfavorable33%31%31%28%25%26%36%33%34%33%27%
No opinion12%12%9%16%17%13%8%8%7%7%9%
(n)(785)(733)(742)(739)(743)(754)(827)(847)(838)(835)(1,017)

[QUESTIONS 19 & 20 WERE ROTATED]

19. How confident are you that Donald Trump can put the country on the road to recovery from the pandemic – very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not at all confident?

REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2020
Very confident30%
Somewhat confident15%
Not too confident9%
Not at all confident45%
(VOL) Don’t know1%
(n)(785)

20. How confident are you that Joe Biden can put the country on the road to recovery from the pandemic – very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not at all confident?

REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2020
Very confident16%
Somewhat confident32%
Not too confident12%
Not at all confident36%
(VOL) Don’t know3%
(n)(785)

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

TREND: REGISTERED
VOTERS
Aug.
2020
Late June
2020
Early June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
Feb.
2020
Very optimistic29%31%31%30%28%34%35%
Somewhat optimistic35%32%31%34%34%31%30%
Somewhat pessimistic20%18%19%17%17%15%18%
Very pessimistic12%13%15%12%12%12%12%
(VOL) Neither, don’t care3%3%2%3%4%3%3%
(VOL) Don’t know1%4%2%3%6%5%2%
(n)(785)(733)(742)(739)(743)(754)(827)
COMPARISON: REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2020
Late June
2020
Early June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
Feb.
2020
2016:Aug.
2016
June
2015
Optimistic64%63%62%64%62%65%65% 55%69%
Pessimistic32%31%34%29%29%27%30% 39%25%
(VOL) Neither3%3%2%3%4%3%3% 3%4%
(VOL) Don’t know1%4%2%3%6%5%2% 3%2%
(n)(785)(733)(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?

22. How motivated are you to vote in the November election for president – very motivated, somewhat motivated, or not that motivated?

REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2020
Late June
2020
Very motivated83%86%
Somewhat motivated9%9%
Not that motivated7%5%
(VOL) Don’t know0%0%
(n)(785)(733)

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

TREND: REGISTERED
 VOTERS
Aug.
2020
Late June
2020
Early June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
Feb.
2020
2016:Aug.
2016*
June
2015*
More enthusiastic40%40%28%26%23%30%39% 21%21%
Less enthusiastic17%15%24%21%17%17%21% 46%22%
About the same43%44%47%52%59%52%40% 31%57%
(VOL) Don’t know1%1%0%1%1%1%1% 2%1%
(n)(785)(733)(742)(739)(743)(754)(827) (803)(829)

     *Asked about the 2016 Presidential election

24. How likely are you to cast your vote by mail in the November election rather than in person – very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not at all likely?

REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2020
May
2020*
Very likely32%31%
Somewhat likely17%20%
Not too likely11%13%
Not at all likely39%34%
(VOL) Won’t vote at all0%n/a
(VOL) Don’t know2%3%
(n)(785)(739)

*Wording in May was “How likely are you to cast your vote by mail this November?

25. Do you think it is a good idea or bad idea to make it easier for more voters to cast their ballots by mail this year?

REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2020
Good idea58%
Bad idea37%
(VOL) Depends4%
(VOL) Don’t know2%
(n)(785)

26. Overall, how confident are you that the November election will be conducted fairly and accurately – very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not at all confident?

REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2020
Very confident21%
Somewhat confident42%
Not too confident24%
Not at all confident12%
(VOL) Don’t know1%
(n)(785)

27. And how concerned are you about the possibility that election meddling could undermine the integrity of the results – very concerned, somewhat concerned, not too concerned, or not at all concerned?

REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2020
Very concerned  37%
Somewhat concerned  35%
Not too concerned16%
Not at all concerned10%
(VOL) Don’t know1%
(n)(785)

[AMONG THOSE WHO ARE VERY/SOMEWHAT CONCERNED; n=568, m.o.e.=/-4.1%]

27A. Who do you think is most likely to be the source of any election meddling? [LIST WAS NOT READ] [Note: Results add to more than 100% because multiple responses were accepted]

REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2020
Democrats23%
Biden2%
Pelosi1%
Republicans9%
Trump19%
Russia23%
China10%
Other country5%
Media2%
VBM, Post Office5%
Government, election officials4%
Social media1%
Other8%
No answer9%
(n)(568)

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from August 6 to 10, 2020 with a national random sample of 868 adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 302 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 566 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. The results in this poll release are based on a subsample of 785 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 3.5 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
38% Independent
32% Democrat
 
47% Male
53% Female
 
28% 18-34
22% 35-49
26% 50-64
23% 65+
 
64% White
13% Black
16% Hispanic
  7% Asian/Other
 
67% No degree
33% 4 year degree
 
 

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

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs