Public Opinion on Coronavirus: 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 1,019 registered voters conducted August 6 – 10, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • There is overwhelming support for expanded voting access, including vote by mail.
  • Biden voters are disproportionately likely to vote by mail, and Trump voters are more likely to vote in-person on Election Day or in-person before Election Day.
  • The public is aware that results of the election this year will likely not be final on election night and wants news organizations to be cautious in predicting the winner.

Broad Support For Expanding Voting Access

Despite recent narratives of increased voter fraud and other unproven criticisms of expanding mail voting, a majority “strongly support” a range of measures that increase access to vote by mail.

  • Even among 2016 Trump voters, 64% support fully funding the USPS to ensure that mail-in and absentee voting happens without problems.
  • Net support for universal vote by mail (+46) is 7 points higher now than in a late-May Navigator survey (+39), and net support for fully funding the Post Office (+68) is 5 points higher than it was in May (+63).

Democrats Disproportionately Likely to Vote By Mail

Two in five Americans say they will vote by mail or absentee ballot, while a little over a third say they plan to vote in-person on Election Day.

Biden Leads Nationally, With Massive Differences Between Mail and In-Person Voters

Biden leads Trump in the presidential vote by 10 points – among mail voters, he leads by 50 points.

  • Among in-person Election Day voters, however, Trump instead leads by 35 points, and among those who plan to vote in-person before Election Day, he leads by 4 points

Most Americans Aware It May Take a Few Days to Declare a Winner: Only a Third Expect Results Election Night

A majority say it will take longer than a day to know who won the presidential election this year, but nearly three in four saying they expect to know within a week or sooner.

  • Nearly one in six say the results will not be final until a few weeks or later after the election – with 6% saying a month or longer.

Across Parties and News Consumption, Public Wants News Organizations to Be Cautious in Reporting Election Results

More than two in three say if there are still many votes to count in the presidential election, news organizations need to be cautious in predicting who won, rather than doing their best to quickly get the public an answer.

  • There is little differentiation across levels of broadcast news consumption, with Fox News Republicans (73%) and MSNBC viewers (70%) as the most likely to say news organizations need to be cautious in reporting results.

Top Election Concerns: Voter Suppression, Voter Fraud, Foreign Interference

While 64% of Republicans are concerned strong Biden supporters will not accept the election result if he loses, 80% of Democrats are concerned strong Trump supporters will not accept the election result if he loses.

Americans Split on Whether Voter Suppression or Voter Fraud is the Bigger Problem

Concerns are split largely by party, with nearly three in four Democrats more concerned about voter suppression and 68% of Republicans more concerned about voter fraud.