NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll Results: Election 2020 & President Trump

Biden Leads Trump by 9 Points Nationally

Former Vice President Joe Biden (52%) has a 9-point advantage over President Donald Trump (43%) among likely voters nationally, including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate.

National Presidential Tossup
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 Likely Voters. Interviews conducted Sept. 11th – Sept. 16th, 2020, n=723 MOE +/- 4.3% percentage points.
  • Biden draws strength from white voters with a college education likely to cast a ballot – especially white women with a college degree – nonwhite voters, women, those who live in the cities and their suburbs, and voters under the age of 45.

  • Trump has the advantage among white evangelical Christians likely to vote, white voters without a college education – especially white men without a college degree – and likely voters who live in rural areas or small towns.

  • White voters overall, men, and likely voters age 45 or older are more divided.

  • Biden (57%) leads Trump (36%) among independents.

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

  • Among registered voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, Biden leads Trump, 52% to 42%. In August, Biden (53%) was ahead of Trump (42%) by 11 points.

80% of likely voters with a candidate preference strongly support their choice. 91% of Trump’s supporters, compared with 71% of Biden’s, express this level of support.

“What jumps out from these poll results is how different Trump’s support is among white voters,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist Poll. “Trump carried these voters over Clinton by 20 points in 2016 and, now, white voters are evenly divided between Biden and Trump. Biden’s standing among white voters more than offsets his weaker showing with nonwhite voters.”

81% of likely voters who favor Trump say they are casting their ballot for the president. 16% report their support of Trump is in opposition to Biden. Those who support Biden divide. 50% say they are casting their ballot for him while 45% say their support reflects opposition to Trump.

When looking at the four-way contest in the race for the White House, Biden receives the support of 49% of likely voters to 42% for Trump, 5% for Libertarian Jo Jorgensen, and 2% for Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins.

President Trump moves toward the general election with a 40% job approval rating among adults nationally. This is comparable to the 39% score he received in August. 29% of Americans strongly approve of the job the president is doing, within the range of the 26% he had in August. 42% strongly disapprove, similar to the 43% with this opinion last month.

While Trump’s approval rating on how he is handling the coronavirus is upside down (40% approve to 56% disapprove), he fares better on the issue of the economy. 49% of Americans approve of Trump’s approach on the economy while 45% disapprove. In April, 50% approved of how Trump was handling the economy, and 48% disapproved.

Among likely voters, compared with Biden, Trump is perceived as the candidate who would better handle the economy by a narrow margin. Biden outdistances Trump as the candidate who voters think can better handle the coronavirus and race relations. Likely voters give a slight advantage to Biden over Trump when it comes to who would better handle the issue of crime.

Candidate Who Would Better Handle the Issues

Source: NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll National Likely Voters. Interviews conducted Sept. 11th – Sept. 16th, 2020, n=723 MOE +/- 4.3% percentage points.

Other Findings

Top Issue

One in five Americans (20%) consider the economy to be the issue that is most important to them. Coronavirus (13%), climate change (11%), health care (8%), and race relations (8%) round out the top five.

President Trump and Election Security

A majority of Americans (53%, unchanged from January) think the U.S. is either very prepared or prepared to keep November’s elections safe and secure. Many are confident their state and local governments will run a fair election (69% to 29% not confident). Although a majority (52%) express confidence in the United States Postal Service to deliver election-related mail to voters and election officials in a timely manner, 46% express doubt. A majority of Americans (51%), including 58% of independents, think President Trump is encouraging election interference. 38% believe he is making the election safer.

Even if their choice of candidate in this year’s presidential election does not win, 50% of likely voters will still consider the election results to be accurate. 37% will not consider the results to be valid. Interestingly, there is little difference between Democrats (46% to 39%) and Republicans (47% to 41%) on this question.

48% of likely voters plan to vote in person on Election Day. 35% expect to vote by mail or absentee ballot, and 14% say they will vote at an early voting location. A plurality of Biden supporters (46%) plan to vote by mail or absentee ballot. About two in three Trump supporters (66%) plan to vote in person on Election Day, almost twice the number of Biden’s backers (35%).

Coronavirus: Trusted Information

Americans are more likely to place, at least, a good amount of trust in the information they receive about the coronavirus from public health officials (69%) and state and local governments (57%) than in the information they receive from the news media (38%) or President Trump (33%).

Trusted Sources for Coronavirus Information

(% Great deal/Good amount of trust)

Source: NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll National Adults. Interviews conducted Sept. 11th – Sept. 16th, 2020, n=1152 MOE +/- 3.5% percentage points.

A Post-Pandemic Society

Nearly seven in ten Americans (69%) think it will take six months or longer for life to return to normal as states reopen after the coronavirus outbreak. This includes 49% who believe it will take a year or longer. 20%, down from 32% in May, believe it will take less than six months for daily life to reflect what it was before.

Most Democrats (86%) and nearly three in four independents (73%) believe it will take six months or longer to return to normal. Even a plurality of Republicans, 48%, say it will be at least six months before daily life resumes.

Americans divide about whether or not they will choose to receive a coronavirus vaccine if one is made available to them. 49% will be vaccinated, and 44% will opt not to be. This marks a major shift since August when 60% said they would choose to take the vaccine, and 35% would not. Independents now divide (48% say they will receive the vaccine to 44% who will not). In August, 61% of independents reported they would be immunized, and 35% said they would not get vaccinated. A majority of Republicans, 54%, now report they will not be vaccinated while 40% will. In contrast, last time, 48% of Republicans said they would take the vaccine, and 44% said they would not. Democrats are most likely to opt to be immunized. 61% say they will get vaccinated, and 31% say they will opt out.

Race Relations

A shift has occurred among Americans’ perceptions about the protests surrounding the actions of police against George Floyd and Jacob Blake. Residents divide with 48% saying the protests are mostly legitimate and 45% reporting they are mostly people acting unlawfully. In August, 53% thought of the protests as legitimate while 38% saw them as unlawful actions.

54% of Americans, compared with 57% last month, have a favorable impression of the Black Lives Matter Movement. 40%, up from 34%, have an unfavorable opinion.

Protest Perceptions

Source: NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll National Adults. Interviews conducted Sept. 11th – Sept. 16th, 2020, n=1152 MOE +/- 3.5% percentage points.