Monmouth National Poll: More Voters Trust Biden on Race

Former EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg says that Joe Biden lacks political discipline and the ability and inclination to reflect on the possible impact of his interpersonal actions and statements before he acts or speaks. These flaws threaten Biden's ability to effectively deliver his center-left Democratic message.

Joe Biden currently holds an 11-point lead over Donald Trump in the presidential race as more voters say they trust the challenger to handle race relations in the country. The latest national Monmouth Poll also finds somewhat more confidence in Biden’s ability to handle the post-pandemic recovery efforts with more voters thinking that the outbreak will hurt Trump’s reelection prospects than said the same two months ago. Most voters feel that limitations on holding in-person events during the pandemic will have no impact on the campaign’s tone.

Biden currently has the support of 52% of registered voters and Trump has the support of 41%. The Democrat’s lead has been slowly widening. It stood at 50% to 41% last month, 48% to 44% in April, and 48% to 45% in March.

“The race continues to be largely a referendum on the incumbent. The initial reaction to ongoing racial unrest in the country suggests that most voters feel Trump is not handling the situation all that well,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. [Note: Most of the interviewing for this poll was completed before Trump’s appearance outside the White House on Monday.]

One-third of voters (33%) say that race relations will be a major factor in their vote for president this year and another 17% say it will be a minor factor. About half (49%) say it will not be a factor at all in their vote choice. More voters of color (44%) than white voters (27%) say that race relations will be a major factor. However, there are partisan differences among white voters who feel this way – ranging from 48% of white Democrats to 35% of white independents and just 4% of white Republicans who say that race relations will be a major factor in their decision.

Overall, more voters express confidence in Biden than say the same about Trump when it comes to handling race relations. Just over half have confidence in Biden’s ability to deal with this issue (17% a great deal and 35% some), while 17% do not have much confidence and 29% have none at all. Only 4 in 10 voters, though, have confidence in Trump (22% a great deal and 18% some), while 10% do not have much confidence and fully half – 50% – have none at all.

Republicans tend to hold extreme views on both candidates’ abilities. Nearly 6 in 10 GOP voters (58%) have a great deal of confidence in Trump’s ability to handle race relations and an identical 58% have no confidence at all in Biden. On the other hand, nearly all Democrats (89%) have no confidence at all in Trump on this issue, but just 32% say they have a great deal of confidence in Biden. However, most of the remaining Democratic voters express some confidence (53%) in his ability to handle race relations. Few independents have a great deal of trust in either Trump (12%) or Biden (13%) on this issue, but they are far more likely to express no confidence at all in the incumbent (50%) versus the challenger (27%).

“The lack of a public campaign during the pandemic may be hurting Trump, but it is not necessarily helping Biden. Trump has not been able to lean on the large rallies that generate positive feedback for him, but Biden has not been much of a presence at all on the public stage. Many voters think the Democrat could do a good job, but they haven’t seen enough of him to judge for certain,” said Murray. [Note: The poll was conducted before Biden’s speech in Philadelphia on Tuesday.]

Turning to the post-pandemic recovery, just under half of the nation’s voters have either a great deal (33%) or some (14%) confidence in Trump’s ability to deal with the recovery, while 12% do not have much confidence and 40% have none at all. Just over half have either a great deal (18%) or some (36%) confidence in Biden’s ability to deal with the recovery, while 12% do not have much and 33% have none at all.

The fact that more voters have a great deal of confidence in Trump than Biden when it comes to the coronavirus recovery is due to greater certainty among the president’s partisan base. Among Republican voters, 74% have a great deal of confidence in Trump and 75% have none at all in Biden. In comparison, while 70% of Democrats have no confidence at all in Trump’s ability to handle the recovery, just 34% say they have a great deal of confidence in Biden.

“Biden may have issued a multipoint recovery plan for the coronavirus outbreak, but it’s a bit like the proverbial tree falling in an empty forest. Even if you are a Democrat, it’s a little difficult to express your full-throated endorsement of a plan you haven’t heard about,” said Murray.

More voters think that Trump’s handling of the outbreak has made it less likely (38%) rather than more likely (18%) that he will be reelected in November. This marks a shift from April when opinion on this question was almost evenly divided (31% less likely to 27% more likely). Another 41% say that Trump’s handling of the pandemic will have no impact on his reelection prospects, which is up slightly from 36% two months ago.

The poll also finds that favorability ratings for both candidates have dipped in the past month. Trump registers a negative 38% favorable to 57% unfavorable opinion, which is more negative than prior polls. The incumbent had a 40% favorable to 53% unfavorable rating in May, a 42% to 50% rating in April, a 46% to 49% rating in March, and a 44% to 53% rating in February. Biden’s rating stands at 42% favorable and 49% unfavorable, which compares with 41% to 44% in May, 41% to 42% in April, 43% to 43% in March, and 40% to 53% in February. The number of voters with no opinion of Biden increased from 8% in February to 17% in April. This has decreased to 9% in the current poll, with most of that opinion shifting into the unfavorable column.

            The Monmouth University Poll also posed a generic ballot test for the U.S. House of Representatives election, which shows 52% of voters currently supporting the Democratic candidate in their district and 43% backing the Republican. This result is similar to last month’s poll (52% to 42%) as well as to polling at a similar point in the last midterm election (48% to 41% in June 2018). Democrats went on to win the national House vote by 8 points that November (53% to 45%).

            Voter optimism has dipped slightly since earlier this spring. Currently, 62% feel optimistic about the 2020 presidential election, which is down slightly from 65% in March. Another 34% feel pessimistic, which is up from 27% three months ago. The drop has occurred among partisans on both sides of the aisle, but Republicans (76%) remain more optimistic than Democrats (58%) overall. Optimism among independents has been holding fairly steady and currently registers at 55%.

            The poll also finds that most voters think the coronavirus outbreak will have little impact on the tone of the race. When asked about having fewer in-person campaign events due to the outbreak, 19% see this as a good thing and 21% see this as a bad thing, but 59% say it does not matter to them. Slightly more voters say that fewer in-person events will lead to a more negative (23%) than more positive (12%) campaign overall, but 62% say this will make no difference to the tone of the 2020 campaign.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from May 28 to June 1, 2020 with 807 adults in the United States. The results in this release are based on 742 registered voters and have a +/- 3.6 percentage point sampling margin of error.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

 

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS     

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

[Q1-3 previously released.]

[Q4-27 held for future release.]

28.    How likely is it that you will vote in the November election – are you certain to vote, likely to vote, are you not sure, or are you unlikely to vote?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS

June
2020

May
2020

April
2020

March
2020

Certain to vote

86%

80%

82%

86%

Likely to vote

9%

12%

10%

10%

Not sure

3%

6%

5%

3%

Unlikely to vote

2%

2%

2%

1%

(VOL) Definitely won’t vote

0%

0%

1%

0%

(n)

(742)

(739)

(743)

(754)

29.    If the election for President was today, would you vote for … Donald Trump the Republican or Joe Biden the Democrat? [NAMES WERE ROTATED] [If UNDECIDED: If you had to vote for one of the following candidates at this moment, who do you lean toward – Donald Trump or Joe Biden?]

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS

(with leaners)

June
2020

May
2020

April
2020

March
2020

Donald Trump

41%

41%

44%

45%

Joe Biden

52%

50%

48%

48%

(VOL) Other candidate

5%

3%

5%

3%

(VOL) No one

1%

1%

1%

0%

(VOL) Undecided

1%

5%

3%

4%

(n)

(742)

(739)

(743)

(754)

30.    If the election for U.S. House of Representatives was held today, would you vote for the Republican or the Democratic candidate in your Congressional district? [ITEMS WERE ROTATED] [If UNDECIDED: At this time do you lean more toward the Republican or more toward the Democratic candidate?]

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS

(with leaners)

June
2020

May
2020

Republican

43%

42%

Democratic

52%

52%

(VOL) Other candidate

1%

1%

(VOL) No one

1%

0%

(VOL) Undecided

4%

5%

(n)

(742)

(739)

[QUESTIONS 31 & 32 WERE ROTATED]

31.    Is your general impression of Donald Trump very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable, or do you have no opinion?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS

June
2020

May
2020

April
2020

March
2020

Feb.
2020

Jan.
2020

Dec.

2019

Nov.
2019

Sept.
2019

Very favorable

26%

24%

24%

29%

35%

35%

33%

34%

30%

Somewhat favorable

12%

16%

18%

17%

9%

8%

13%

10%

13%

Somewhat unfavorable

9%

9%

7%

7%

6%

4%

5%

4%

6%

Very unfavorable

48%

44%

43%

42%

47%

51%

47%

50%

50%

No opinion

5%

7%

7%

5%

3%

2%

2%

2%

3%

(n)

(742)

(739)

(743)

(754)

(827)

(847)

(838)

(835)

(1,017)

32.    Is your general impression of Joe Biden very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable, or do you have no opinion?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS

June
2020

May
2020

April
2020

March
2020

Feb.
2020

Jan.
2020

Dec.

2019

Nov.
2019

Sept.
2019

Very favorable

15%

15%

15%

18%

16%

19%

18%

18%

20%

Somewhat favorable

27%

26%

26%

25%

24%

23%

25%

25%

26%

Somewhat unfavorable

18%

16%

17%

17%

17%

16%

16%

17%

18%

Very unfavorable

31%

28%

25%

26%

36%

33%

34%

33%

27%

No opinion

9%

16%

17%

13%

8%

8%

7%

7%

9%

(n)

(742)

(739)

(743)

(754)

(827)

(847)

(838)

(835)

(1,017)

33.    Has Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak made it more likely or less likely that he will be reelected in November, or has it made no difference either way?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS

June
2020

April
2020

More likely

18%

27%

Less likely

38%

31%

No difference

41%

36%

(VOL) Don’t know

2%

6%

(n)

(742)

(743)

[QUESTIONS 34 & 35 WERE ROTATED]

34.    How much confidence do you have in Donald Trump’s ability to handle the post-pandemic recovery – a great deal, some, not much, or none at all?

REGISTERED VOTERS

June
2020

Great deal

33%

Some

14%

Not much

12%

None at all

40%

(VOL) Don’t know

0%

(n)

(742)

35.    How much confidence do you have in Joe Biden’s ability to handle the post-pandemic recovery – a great deal, some, not much, or none at all?

REGISTERED VOTERS

June
2020

Great deal

18%

Some

36%

Not much

12%

None at all

33%

(VOL) Don’t know

1%

(n)

(742)

36.    The coronavirus outbreak has made it more likely that there will be fewer in-person campaign events this election season. From your perspective, will having fewer in-person campaign events be a good thing or a bad thing, or doesn’t it matter to you?

REGISTERED VOTERS

June
2020

Good thing

19%

Bad thing

21%

Doesn’t matter

59%

(VOL) Don’t know

1%

(n)

(742)

37.    Do you think having an election with fewer in-person events will lead to a more positive or more negative campaign overall, or will it make no difference to the tone of the campaign?

REGISTERED VOTERS

June
2020

More positive

12%

More negative

23%

No difference

62%

(VOL) Don’t know

3%

(n)

(742)

38.    Do you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the 2020 presidential election? [Is that very or somewhat optimistic/pessimistic?]

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS

June
2020

May
2020

April
2020

March
2020

Feb.
2020

Very optimistic

31%

30%

28%

34%

35%

Somewhat optimistic

31%

34%

34%

31%

30%

Somewhat pessimistic

19%

17%

17%

15%

18%

Very pessimistic

15%

12%

12%

12%

12%

(VOL) Neither, don’t care

2%

3%

4%

3%

3%

(VOL) Don’t know

2%

3%

6%

5%

2%

(n)

(742)

(739)

(743)

(754)

(827)

 

COMPARISON: REGISTERED VOTERS

June
2020

May
2020

April
2020

March
2020

Feb.
2020

2016:

Aug.
2016

June
2015

Optimistic

62%

64%

62%

65%

65%

 

55%

69%

Pessimistic

34%

29%

29%

27%

30%

 

39%

25%

(VOL) Neither

2%

3%

4%

3%

3%

 

3%

4%

(VOL) Don’t know

2%

3%

6%

5%

2%

 

3%

2%

(n)

(742)

(739)

(743)

(754)

(827)

 

(803)

(829)

2016 QUESTION WORDING: Thinking about the 2016 election, do you feel optimistic or pessimistic about electing a new president?

39.    Compared to past elections, are you more enthusiastic than usual, less enthusiastic, or about the same as past elections?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS

June
2020

May
2020

April
2020

March
2020

Feb.
2020

2016:

Aug.
2016*

June
2015*

More enthusiastic

28%

26%

23%

30%

39%

 

21%

21%

Less enthusiastic

24%

21%

17%

17%

21%

 

46%

22%

About the same

47%

52%

59%

52%

40%

 

31%

57%

(VOL) Don’t know

0%

1%

1%

1%

1%

 

2%

1%

(n)

(742)

(739)

(743)

(754)

(827)

 

(803)

(829)

     *Asked about the 2016 Presidential election

[B1-B7 previously released.]

[NOTE: QUESTIONS B8-B10 WERE ONLY ASKED 5/29-6/1; n=696, m.o.e= +/-3.7%]

B8.    Will race relations be a major factor, minor factor, or not a factor in your vote for president this year?

REGISTERED VOTERS

June
2020

Major factor

33%

Minor factor

17%

Not a factor

49%

(VOL) Don’t know

1%

(n)

(696)

 

[QUESTIONS B9 & B10 WERE ROTATED]

B9.    How much confidence do you have in Donald Trump’s ability to handle race relations – a great deal, some, not much, or none at all?

REGISTERED VOTERS

June
2020

Great deal

22%

Some

18%

Not much

10%

None at all

50%

(VOL) Don’t know

0%

(n)

(696)

B10.  How much confidence do you have in Joe Biden’s ability to handle race relations – a great deal, some, not much, or none at all?

REGISTERED VOTERS

June
2020

Great deal

17%

Some

35%

Not much

17%

None at all

29%

(VOL) Don’t know

2%

(n)

(696)

[Q40-57 held for future release.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from May 28 to June 1, 2020 with a national random sample of 807 adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 279 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 528 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. The results in this poll release are based on a subsample of 742 registered voters. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information (ACS 2018 one-year survey). Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Dynata (RDD sample). For results based on the registered voter sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)

REGISTERED VOTERS

 

 

29% Republican

38% Independent

33% Democrat

 

48% Male

52% Female

 

26% 18-34

21% 35-49

30% 50-64

22% 65+

 

65% White

13% Black

16% Hispanic

  6% Asian/Other

 

68% No degree

32% 4 year degree

 

 

MARGIN OF ERROR

unweighted  sample

moe
(+/-)

REGISTERED VOTERS

 

742

3.6%

SELF-REPORTED

PARTY ID

Republican

192

7.1%

Independent

290

5.8%

Democrat

258

6.1%

IDEOLOGY

Liberal

210

6.8%

Moderate

286

5.8%

Conservative

238

6.4%

GENDER

Male

364

5.1%

Female

378

5.1%

AGE

18-34

135

8.4%

35-49

203

6.9%

50-64

221

6.6%

 

65+

172

7.5%

INCOME

<$50K

210

6.8%

$50 to <100K

244

6.3%

$100K+

249

6.2%

RACE

White, non-Hispanic

550

4.2%

Other

176

7.4%

COLLEGE GRADUATE

No degree

319

5.5%

4 year degree

420

4.8%

WHITE COLLEGE

White, no degree

229

6.5%

White, 4 year degree

320

5.5%

2016 VOTE BY COUNTY

 

Trump 10+ pts

259

6.1%

Swing <10 pts

164

7.7%

Clinton 10+ pts

316

5.5%

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