Public Opinion on Coronavirus and The Vote: Navigator Update

Friday, October 16th, 2020

Welcome to NAVIGATOR – a project designed to better understand the American public’s views on issues of the day and help advocates, elected officials, and other interested parties understand the language, imagery, and messaging needed to make and win key policy arguments.

This release features findings from a national online survey of 1,003 registered voters conducted October 8-12, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • Joe Biden remains well-liked as a plurality report hearing mostly positive things about him and seeing only or mostly positive advertisements about him.
  • With many Americans reporting having already voted, most who have not yet voted are split between mail-in and voting in person on Election Day.
  • Top concerns about the election include Trump not accepting results and trying to prevent votes from being counted.

Biden Sustains Boost in Popularity Over Last Two Months

Joe Biden remains popular among a majority of Americans.

    • Among independents, Joe Biden enjoys net +6 popularity (48% favorable/42% unfavorable).
    • Donald Trump’s popularity is underwater by 13 points (43% favorable/56% unfavorable), and among independents, he’s at net -22 (35% favorable/57% unfavorable).

While Majority Are Hearing Mostly Negative Things About Trump, Plurality Hearing Mostly Positive Things About Biden

For Trump, recent exposure among Americans has been mostly negative (58%) or a mix of positive and negative (25%), but for Biden, recent exposure among Americans has been mostly positive (44%) or a mix (30%).

  • While 29% of Republicans say they are seeing or hearing mostly positive things about Trump, 69% of Democrats say the same about Biden.

In Advertisements, Americans Are Seeing Mix of Positive and Negative on Trump, Mostly Positive on Biden

In looking at advertisements specifically, Americans report seeing positive, negative, and a mix of positive and negative in roughly equal numbers on Trump – while more than two in five say they are seeing mostly positive Biden ads.

  • Pluralities of independents say they aren’t seeing any ads on Trump (45%) or Biden (39%).

Three in Five Report Watching “A Lot” or “Some” of the Vice Presidential Debate

Two in five Americans report watching “only a little” or “none” of the vice presidential debate.

  • Comparatively, 69% of Americans say they watched “a lot” or “some” of the recent presidential debate.

Majority View Harris’s Vice Presidential Debate Performance Positively While Only Two in Five Say Same of Pence’s

Independents hold roughly equal views of the vice presidential nominees’ performances in the debate.

  • By comparison, after the presidential debate, 52% of Americans had a positive impression of Joe Biden’s performance and only 30% said the same of Trump’s performance.

One in Ten Report Having Already Voted and Most Who Haven’t Intend to Vote Early In Person or By Mail

With more than one in ten reporting they have already voted, of those who do not yet report having voted, about a third plan to vote by mail or in person on Election Day each.

  • Among Democrats, nearly one in five (17%) report having already voted, while only 4% of independents and Republicans each say they have already voted.

Half Plan to Vote Before November 3rd in Addition to Those Who Report Having Already Voted

Though two in five still plan to vote on Election Day, a majority plan to vote before Election Day or have already voted.

  • Republicans and independents (49% each) are most likely to vote on Election Day.

Clear Majority Continue to Say It Will Take Longer Than a Day to Know Who Won

Two in three continue to say it will take longer than a day to know who won the presidential election with just one in four saying we will know on election night or the day after.

  • In a follow-up, 73% say we will know the results within a week of Election Day – though 18% say it will take a few weeks to longer than a month for the results to be final.

Public Grows Slightly More Confident in Biden Victory, But Most Still Think Their Candidate of Choice Will Win

A growing share of Americans say Biden will win the election, up a net +6 since last week.

  • While Democrats have grown a net 4 points more confident that Biden will win in the last week, among Republicans, confidence in a Trump victory has declined a net 8 points.

Confidence in Election Count Remains High

Three in four are confident their ballot will be counted correctly and fairly, and there has been a 4-point increase since last week in the share who are confident the results at large will be counted correctly and fairly.

  • Four in five (79%) Biden voters have confidence their ballot will be counted correctly and 71% of Trump voters say the same. On the election overall, 72% of Biden voters and only 64% of Trump voters say the same.

Top Concerns About November Election Revolve Around Trump Not Accepting Election Results, Interfering

While partisans are concerned about the opposite party not accepting results or interfering with votes, independents are much more concerned about Trump not accepting the results or interfering with them than Joe Biden.

Voter Suppression Continues to Worry Americans More than Voter Fraud

Nearly half are more concerned about voter suppression while less than two in five are more concerned about voter fraud.

  • While 71% of Biden voters are more concerned about voter suppression, 71% of Trump voters are more concerned about voter fraud.