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PollerCoaster 2020: The Home Stretch

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PollerCoaster 9

WHAT’S BREAKING THROUGH

SUMMARY

Crooked Media has partnered with Change Research to conduct a series of 2020 polls. You can view the complete crosstabs here, and see more insights here.


WHOM WE POLLED

  • Crooked Media and Change Research surveyed 1125 likely voters nationwide from October 23-24 to find out what kind of news is breaking through in the final weeks of the 2020 campaign. 

BIDEN VS. TRUMP

  • Biden leads 51-43%. 
    • 2% plan to support third party candidates
    • 2% are undecided 
    • 57% say they’ve already voted
    • Biden’s favorability rating is 48-48%; Trump’s favorability is 43-55%
  • Here’s how Biden’s lead breaks down by 2016 vote: 
    • 92-3% among those who voted for Clinton
    • 5-92% among those who voted for Trump in 2016
    • 44-31% among those who voted third party in 2016
    • 57-32% among those who did not vote in 2016
  • Here’s who different groups of voters support:
    • Biden leads by 17 among women, while Trump is up 2 among men.
    • Biden leads among all age groups except 50-64, where he’s basically tied
    • Biden is up 78-16 among Black voters, 52-41 among Latino voters, and 48-47 among white voters. (The nonwhite groups are based on fairly small sample sizes, so there’s a high margin of error.)

      • Biden leads 53-42 with white women, while Trump is up 54-42 among white men.
      • Trump leads 52-42 with white non-college women, 64-32 with white non-college men. Biden leads 66-30 among white women with a degree, 57-39 with white men with a degree.
    • Biden leads 61-34 with urban voters, 56-38 among those in the suburbs, and trails 37-59 among rural voters. Compared with self-reported 2016 votes, Biden has gained 6 points compared to Hillary Clinton’s margin with urban voters, 3 points among those in the suburbs, and 6 points among rural voters.
    • Trump is up 95-3 among Republicans who list Fox News as a top source, and 81-12 among Republicans who don’t.

WHEN DID PEOPLE MAKE UP THEIR MIND?

  • 74% have always known who they’d vote for (Biden’s lead with these voters is 52-46%)
  • 8% decided between March and May (Biden’s ahead 69-20%)
  • 6% decided between June and August (Biden’s ahead 59-39%) 
  • 2% decided after the first debate, 3% in the first three weeks of October, 2% since the last debate

WHAT ARE PEOPLE HEARING?

  • A lot! More than 9 in 10 voters are “closely” following news about the election – 69% “very closely.”
    • Biden voters are more likely to be following the news very closely (75%) than Trump voters (65%)
    • Fox News-watching Republicans are more likely to be following the news very closely (76%) than Non-Fox News-watching Republicans (43%)
  • The coverage people are seeing about Biden is mostly positive; the stories about Trump are overwhelmingly negative. Even among Trump voters, they’re seeing as much negative coverage of Trump as positive. Of course, to them, this is evidence of media bias against Trump — a topic that came up over and over among Trump voters in an open-ended question about debate coverage. The top Trump-related news stories are COVID and the debate, but by far the single word voters used most to describe recent coverage of him is “lies” or “liar.” For Biden, the top story is Hunter’s business dealings, though this was mentioned as a top story almost entirely by Trump voters. When others talk about the coverage they’re seeing about Biden, they use words like “empathetic,” “compassionate,” “presidential,” and “good.”
    • Voters are hearing mostly positive things about Biden (52-31%)
    • Voters are hearing mostly negative things about Trump (20-68%), including:
      • 57% of undecided and third party voters 
      • 43% of Republicans 
    • Trump voters are living in a different information universe. We asked voters how much they’d heard about a series of news stories from last week that included events in politics, international affairs, sports, and popular culture. The goal was to see which stories were breaking through to which voters. 

Here’s what we found: 

A few observations: 

    • For Trump voters, the election is being decided on a completely different set of issues. It’s not that they’re voting for Trump because they think is handling of the pandemic has been perfect – only 74% of Trump voters approve of his Covid performance. It’s that they believe the election is as much about rioting or looting, Hunter Biden, or the supposed radicalization of the left as it is about Covid. 
  • Trump voters have heard far more recently about Hunter Biden than they’ve heard about the new spike in Covid cases. And they’re barely hearing about stories like Trump calling Anthony Fauci “a disaster,” or saying “lock them all up” about Gretchen Whitmer.
  • The top two issues — SCOTUS and the debate — were selected roughly equally by Biden and Trump voters. Most other stories — including less partisan ones like early turnout and New Zealand’s election — were more familiar to Biden voters; the biggest gap was on Trump’s Chinese bank account, which only 19% of Trump voters but 75% of Biden voters had heard at least a decent amount about. On the other hand, Trump voters were disproportionately more likely to have heard at least a decent amount about Hunter Biden’s dealings: 85% of Trump voters and 54% of Biden voters had heard at least a decent amount.
  • The Hunter Biden story was significantly more familiar to Fox-viewing Republicans (91%) than Non-Fox Republicans (73%).
    • Though there was some variation on which stories broke through among which demographics, the one story that disproportionately reached a specific audience was AOC/Ilhan Omar’s Twitch stream. 44% of voters under 35 had heard at least a decent amount about it; no other age group was above 14%. And 20% of all Latinx voters heard a lot about it.
    • One final point on these stories: though Chris Pratt’s views aren’t the entertainment story of the century, it’s notable that not even 20% of voters have heard about any of the stories about anything other than American politics, while over 80% are paying close attention to the election and the pandemic. It’s another reminder of the unprecedented interest in this election, and the unprecedented disaster that is Donald Trump.
  • We also asked an open-ended question about what voters remembering hearing about last week. They heard most about COVID, Hunter and the debate — but differ massively by partisanship and news source.
  • 27% mentioned COVID, 18% mentioned Hunter Biden, 15% mentioned the debate; next highest was SCOTUS, at 5%, while other stories were at 2% or less. 
  • 39% of Biden voters had been hearing most about COVID, while only 13% of Trump voters had. There was a 4-point gap between Fox and Non-Fox Republicans on COVID. 
  • The gap was even bigger on Hunter Biden: 35% of Trump voters mentioned him, while 5% of Biden voters did (recall that this is an open-ended question, so it’s not that Biden voters weren’t hearing about Hunter at all; it’s just not the first thing that came to mind). On Hunter, the Fox/Non-Fox Republican gap was 6 points.
  • Interestingly, Biden voters were much more likely to mention the debate than Trump voters: 21% to 9%.
    • Twice as many people mentioned Biden and China as mentioned Trump’s Chinese bank account or Trump paying more taxes in China taxes than in America (though these were only mentioned by 2% and 1% of respondents).
  • A few other observations on what’s breaking through:
    • A majority of voters — 51% — say Trump’s handling of COVID-19 has been the biggest news story of the election. 
      • This includes 19% of Trump voters, as well as 17% of third party or undecided voters 
      • Trump voters’ top issue, narrowly, was “rioting and looting,” at 24%; “the Democratic Party moving left” and Hunter’s business dealings were selected by 19% and 18% of Trump voters, respectively. (6% of Trump voters wrote in responses; by far the top response was mainstream media being biased against Trump.) 
      • 36% of Non-Fox News Republicans say COVID was the top story, almost double the 19% among Fox Republicans. Interestingly, while Fox Republicans are much higher than Non-Fox Republicans on “rioting and looting” and the Democrats moving left, more Non-Fox Republicans say Hunter Biden than Fox Republicans. The killing of George Floyd and subsequent protests were selected by 16% of voters under 35, as well as 11% of Latinx voters (the number among African Americans, 6%, matched the entire electorate).
    • People have been hearing a ton about the presidential election, and much less about the Senate. 89% said they’ve heard a lot about the presidential election recently, but only 32% have heard a lot about the Senate (32% have heard only a little bit or none at all). 

WHO PEOPLE THINK IS WINNING

  • Voters largely know Biden is ahead in the polls. 48% think Biden is leading in the polls (20% think he’s winning by a lot), while 25% think Trump is leading (17% think by a lot). 10% of Trump voters realize Biden is leading, while 0% of Biden voters think Trump is. Third party and undecided voters also realize Biden’s up: 41% think he leads, while 13% think Trump does.
  • But they’re split on who will actually win. 41% think Trump will win, and another 41% think Biden will. People are more sure on Trump: 24% think he’ll almost definitely win, while 13% say the same about Biden. The certainty is all partisan: 55% of Trump voters think Trump will almost definitely win, while only 25% of Biden voters say he almost definitely will. Among third party and undecided voters, 32% think Trump will win and 17% think Biden will — but nearly all of them only say their selection will “probably” win.
  • The top reason for the divide: PTSD among Biden voters, distrust of the fake polls among Trump voters. We asked those who gave conflicting answers on the two questions above why they did so. 48% of Biden voters said that 2016 convinced them that Trump will outperform the polls; another 28% generally distrust polls, and 25% think Trump will rig the election. Among Trump voters, 31% say 2016 convinced them Trump will win, and 62% said they generally distrust polls. Only 2% of Trump voters who answered this question thought Democrats would rig the election. 5% of Trump voters, but 0% of Biden voters, think things will change between now and November 3.
  • About half of one percent of voters are complacent because the polling is so lopsided. Of those who said either that one candidate led by a lot or that one candidate would almost definitely win, we asked if they might skip voting because their vote wouldn’t matter. Only 1% of those who answered this question — roughly half of all respondents — said they might skip voting.