NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll Results & Analysis: Election 2020, Trump & the Issues

Biden Up 11 Points Over Trump Nationally

Former Vice President Joe Biden (53%) has a double-digit lead over President Donald Trump (42%) among registered voters nationally including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate. In late June, Biden (52%) had an eight-point advantage against Trump (44%). This NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll was conducted almost entirely before Biden’s Vice Presidential selection of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris.

Presidential Tossup Nationally
If November's election for president were held today, whom would you support if the candidates are: [If undecided: If you had to decide today, are you leaning more towards:]
Source: NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll National Registered Voters. Interviews conducted August 3rd - August 11th, 2020, n=1118 MOE +/- 3.6 percentage points.
  • Biden now has majority support (52%) among independent voters and outpaces Trump by 16 points among this group.

  • Biden draws support from Black voters, women, white voters with a college degree, voters in big and small cities, and suburban voters.

  • Trump’s strength lies among white Evangelical Christians, white voters without a college degree, and those who live in rural areas.

  • White voters, men, and voters in small towns divide. Trump previously edged or led Biden among these groups in June.

  • Biden leads among voters who dislike both Biden and Trump, 52% to 33%.

  • 12% of voters are persuadable, that is, voters who are undecided or who support a candidate but might vote differently.

70% of voters with a candidate preference strongly support their choice. 76% of Trump’s supporters, compared with 64% of Biden’s, express this level of support.

“Biden is well-positioned going into this unconventional convention season,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist Poll. “Trump was already playing catchup. If the Biden-Harris ticket closes the so-called enthusiasm gap, it will be a steeper climb for the president.”

74% of Trump’s supporters, compared with 44% of Biden’s, say their ballot will be in favor of their choice of candidate. 50% of Biden’s supporters report they are voting against Trump while only 22% of Trump’s backers are voting against Biden.

Both Biden and Trump have upside down favorable ratings, but Biden (net -7) is not perceived as negatively as Trump (net -25).

President Donald Trump’s job approval rating stands at 39% among adults nationally, down from 42% earlier this month. 43% of Americans report they strongly disapprove of Trump’s job performance. 26% strongly approve.

Biden is perceived as the candidate to better handle the coronavirus and race relations. Adults divide about who would be better to handle the economy.

Who do you think would be better when it comes to dealing with:

Source: NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll National Adults. Interviews conducted August 3rd – August 11th, 2020, n=1261 MOE +/- 3.3 percentage points.

Other Findings

Factors Influencing the Vote

Nearly half of Americans say each of the top issues — coronavirus (48%), race relations (49%), or the economy (48%) — is not a factor in deciding their vote because they have already made up their minds about their presidential pick. Still, when asked to describe how important each issue is to deciding their vote, 38% of Americans say the economy will play a major factor, 34% describe the pandemic in this way and 31% see race relations as the top motivating factor.

Trump or Pence?

Registered voters say they would rather have Trump (44%) as president than Mike Pence (37%). This is driven by Republicans who prefer Trump (82%) to Pence (16%).

Generic Congressional Ballot

49% of registered voters say they are more likely to vote for the Democratic congressional candidate in their district than the Republican (43%). In February, the Democrats had an 8-point advantage.

The Threat of Coronavirus

Americans’ perceptions of the coronavirus have changed since March. More Americans (71%) now see it as a real threat than a situation that is blown out of proportion (27%). Five months ago, 56% saw the virus as a threat, and 38% thought it was exaggerated.

Trusted Sources on Coronavirus Information

Americans are more likely to trust coronavirus information communicated to them by public health experts than other sources. 75% of Americans say they have a great deal or good amount of trust in the information these experts share. This compares with 62% for state and local governments, 46% for news media, and 31% for President Trump. There has been a decline in the proportion of Americans who say they trust each of these sources for information about coronavirus since March.

Reopening America in the COVID-19 Era

Americans’ attitudes about reopening aspects of American life in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic have become more positive. Yet, caution still exists. Americans are more likely to say it is a good idea to allow people to eat outside at restaurants (80%) than they are to think it is a good idea to allow Americans to return to work (58%); to open restaurants for people to eat in (43%); to have students return to school (40%); to allow children to take part in local or school sports (35%); or to allow large groups of people to attend religious, social, or sporting events (27%).

Most Americans (74%) think it is a good idea to pass a national mandate to require people to wear a mask in a public place.

Due to coronavirus, do you think it is a good idea or bad idea to do each of the following:

(% “Good idea”)

Source: NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll National Adults. Interviews conducted August 3rd – August 11th, 2020, n=1261 MOE +/- 3.3 percentage points.

Trend: Due to coronavirus, do you think it is a good idea or bad idea to do each of the following:

(% “Good idea”)

Source: NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll National Adults. Interviews conducted August 3rd – August 11th, 2020, n=1261 MOE +/- 3.3 percentage points.

A Coronavirus Vaccine

60% of Americans report they would choose to be vaccinated if a vaccine for the coronavirus is made available to them, including 71% of Democrats, 61% of independents, and 48% of Republicans. 35% of Americans would not get vaccinated.

Voting By Mail

If given the opportunity to vote by mail due to the coronavirus, 50% of Americans say that they will cast their ballot in person, up from 38% in May. 43% say they will mail in their ballot, down from 50%. 62% of Biden’s supporters plan to vote by mail, and 36% intend to do so in person. In contrast, only 24% of Trump’s supporters will mail in their ballot, and 72% will go to the polls.

Race Relations in the United States

67% of residents nationally believe Trump’s response to the protests in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd has mostly increased tensions.

Americans are not convinced that increasing the involvement of federal law enforcement in the protests in Portland, Oregon and other cities around the country is a good idea. 48% say it is a bad idea, and 44% think it is a good one. Nearly two in three Black residents (64%) consider increased federal law enforcement to be a negative while white Americans divide.

A majority of Americans (53%) still perceive the demonstrations against racial injustice to be legitimate protests, but fewer do so now compared with June (62%). 38% believe these gatherings are mostly people acting unlawfully, up from 28% previously.

Nearly six in ten Americans (57%) have a favorable opinion of the Black Lives Matter Movement. 34% have an unfavorable one. Although Black residents (83%) are more likely to have a positive impression of the movement, majorities of Latinos (59%) and whites (51%) also share this view.