Public Opinion on Coronavirus and The Vote: Navigator Update

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 1,002 registered voters conducted September 26-28, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • Democrats are following news about the Supreme Court more closely than Republicans.
  • A conservative Court could disrupt a clear public consensus on cases like Roe v. Wade and Citizens United.
  • Americans believe their preferred candidate is most likely to win the election, but Trump voters are more confident that Trump will “definitely” win.

Republicans Who Watch Fox News and Democrats Are Following the Supreme Court Vacancy Most Closely

Nearly three in four Americans report following the recent vacancy on the Supreme Court “very” or “somewhat” closely, with less than a quarter saying they are following “not too” or “not at all closely.”

Americans Do Not Want Barrett Nomination to Be Considered Before the Election

ABy a 6-point margin, the public thinks Trump was wrong to nominate Amy Coney Barrett, and the margin grows to 11 points when asked whether the nomination should be considered by the U.S. Senate.

Early Reviews of Barrett Are Mixed, But Many Don’t Know Enough to Say

While views of Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett are largely defined by partisanship, nearly a third of both Democrats and Republicans view John Roberts favorably.

  • More than half (57%) of Democrats have an unfavorable view of Brett Kavanaugh and 56% say the same of Amy Coney Barrett.

ACA Remains Top SCOTUS Issue, While Abortion Has Risen in Importance Over the Past Week

Since last week, the Affordable Care Act, racial justice, and immigration remain top issues in terms of how the Court decides these cases, while more Americans this week rate abortion as one of the most important issues.

  • Democrats (34%), independents (38%), and Republicans (45%) also all place gun laws as a high Court priority.

The Affordable Care Act Continues to Grow More Popular

Three in five have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act, up 15 points since June 2019 and 5 since May 2020.

  • Among Republicans, the ACA has grown 15-points more popular since June 2019 (from 19% to 34%).

Conservative Court Threatens Cases For Which There Is Already Consensus

A majority of Americans hold more progressive views on cases expected to come before a new Court: majorities agree with the rulings of Roe and Obergefell and disagree with Citizens United.

Americans Most Concerned About Court Overturning ACA

Top concerns for Americans in thinking about what could happen if Trump’s next Supreme Court nominee is confirmed include the ACA, campaign finance, climate change, and political division.

“Power Grab” and “Hypocritical” Are Top Descriptors of Republicans’ Recent Actions on the Supreme Court

Americans see “power grab” and “hypocritical” as the top descriptors of Republicans’ actions on the Supreme Court.

  • Among independents, top descriptions include “hypocritical,” “wrong priorities,” and “rushed.”

Focusing on Specific Rights That Are At Risk in a New Court Is More Effective Than Ideological Imbalance

In a messaging experiment where all respondents were shown a message on Amy Coney Barrett’s qualifications, and half were shown a rebuttal about specific rights at risk and the other about the conservative imbalance of a post-RBG Court, rights that are at risk are far more compelling as a reason to not confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.

Among Persuadables, Distraction from the Pandemic, ACA Are Top Reasons to Wait Until Election for New Justice

Progressive Arguments Stand Up Well to Conservative Arguments on the SCOTUS Fight

Counters to conservative messaging supporting Trump’s nomination are all more effective.

More Now Say They Will Vote in Person on Election Day Than Will Vote By Mail

For the first time in Navigator’s tracking of vote method intention since early August, a plurality now say that they will vote in person on Election Day, though still nearly two in five plan to vote by mail.

  • Since August 24, intent to vote by mail has especially dropped among Democrats (down 7, from 53% to 46%) and independents (down 7, from 35% to 28%).

Half of Americans Plan to Vote Before Election Day – With a Third Voting in the Next Three Weeks

A third of Americans plan to vote sometime between now and October 20 , while more than two in five plan to vote on Election Day by either mail/absentee ballot or in person.

  • Democrats are most likely to vote sometime between now and October 20th (42%) while Republicans are most likely to vote on Election Day (54%).

An Overwhelming Majority Believe the 2020 Presidential Election Is Most Important in Their Lifetime

Nine in ten Americans believe this November’s presidential election will be the most important of their lifetimes.

  • Democrats are more likely than Republicans to strongly agree that this presidential election is the most important in their lifetimes by an a 11-point margin.

Most Americans Believe Their Preferred Candidate Will Win the Presidential Election

While nine in ten supporters of Trump and Biden believe their respective candidate will win the November election, Trump voters feel Trump will “definitely” win (63%) than Biden voters think Biden will “definitely” win (44%).

Growing Awareness That Presidential Result May Not Be Clear on November 4th

The majority of Americans believe it will take longer than a day to know who won the presidential election, up double digits since just a month ago in August.

  • In a follow-up question, 51% say that we will know within a couple of days or sooner, while 17% say it may take a few weeks or longer until we have the results.

Concerns About Voter Suppression Outweigh Concerns About Fraud

A near-majority now are more concerned about voter suppression than voter fraud in the November election, up a net 7 points since September 14.

  • Among Republicans, there has been a 7-point net shift in the share who are more concerned about voter suppression than voter fraud (from -50 to -43) since September 14.

Majority Worried By Range of Trump’s Recent Actions Regarding Voting in the Upcoming Election

A majority of Americans are worried about Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, efforts to confirm a new Justice to have a favorable Court on Election Day, and efforts to increase concern about voter fraud.