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Biden Supporters Are More Worried About the Health Risks of Voting

  • July 03, 2020

One factor that isn’t included in most likely-voter screens is enthusiasm. It is certainly possible that the candidate with an enthusiasm edge might hold a turnout edge, but an unenthusiastic vote counts just as much as an enthusiastic one, and most registered voters show up in presidential elections anyway.

Even so, Mr. Biden does not appear to be at a meaningful enthusiasm disadvantage: 65 percent of his supporters said they were “very enthusiastic” about voting this November, compared with 66 percent of Mr. Trump’s supporters. Importantly, the survey question asked whether respondents were enthusiastic about voting, not whether they were enthusiastic about the candidate they supported — where Mr. Biden appears to be at a more significant disadvantage.

Perhaps more surprising, Mr. Biden also enjoys a nine-point lead in a vote-history-based model of the likely electorate, even though this electorate is whiter, older and more Republican than the battleground electorate as a whole, reflecting surprising strength among voters with a robust track record of voting. He also enjoys a nine-point lead using the standard Times/Siena likely voter approach, which blends vote history and self-reported intentions.

The lack of an overall gap between registered and likely voters obscures some modest underlying regional variation. Mr. Biden is at a modest turnout disadvantage in the Sun Belt states, where he depends on young and nonwhite voters, which are two typically low-turnout groups. Mr. Trump, on the other hand, appears to be at a slight disadvantage among likely voters in the Rust Belt, where he depends on the support of white voters without a college degree, another low-turnout group.

Of course, all of this could change before the election. Mr. Biden’s position among likely voters may deteriorate if he loses ground among high-turnout older voters or, less likely, high-turnout college-educated voters. And anyone could become more or less likely to vote, even if no one’s opinion on a candidate changes. For these reasons, many public pollsters don’t report results among likely voters until after Labor Day.

The coronavirus might require even greater caution this cycle.

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