LUNCHTIME POLITICS: A Hard Look at VP Candidates – China – Utah, New York – Social Distancing – Voting by Mail

Your Daily Polling Update for Thursday, May 28, 2020

Down 2 since Tuesday

RON’S COMMENT: Over the past nine days, President Trump’s job approval has dropped from 45% to 42%…. Today’s average is based on three polls, ranging from 40% (Politico) to 45% (Economist). The third poll had it at 42%…. Trump’s disapproval rating averages 56% today (+2 since Tuesday), which is 14 points higher than his approval rating…. See the trend in Trump’s job approval average since the beginning of 2020 at approval trend.

Among general election voters

(Economist) Biden over Trump: +3 (45-42)
(Optimus) Biden over Trump: +11 (45-42)
Average: Biden +7
RON’S COMMENT: Two polls, poles apart…. The Economist poll shows a tightening in the presidential race; last week, Biden led this poll by 5 points…. But, the Optimus poll has Biden ahead by a sizable 11 points…. Note that the Economist poll is the most recent of the two.
Biden over Trump: +2 (47-45)
RON’S COMMENT: Trump won Arizona in 2016 by nearly 4 points. While Republicans won the state in five of the last six presidential elections, Democrats believe they can take it this year.

Trump over Biden: +3 (44-41-8)
RON’S COMMENT: This poll shows a surprisingly close race in Utah, a strong Republican state. Republicans have carried Utah in every presidential election since 1968. Trump won the state in 2016, but with only 46% of the vote. Hillary Clinton received 28% and independent Evan McMullin received 22%.
Biden over Trump: +25 (57-32)
RON’S COMMENT: No surprise here. Trump lost New York state by 22 points in 2016––and appears to be headed for another loss in his home state…. Though Biden easily carries New York in this poll, his personal popularity rating in the state is not nearly as good as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s: Biden 51% favorable/40% unfavorable vs. Cuomo 66% favorable/30% unfavorable.

Among general election voters

Mark Kelly (D) over Sen. Martha McSally (R): +10 (51-41)
RON’S COMMENT: GOP incumbent McSally has a tough battle on her hands. Democrat Kelly has led every recent poll. Handicappers rate the race tossup or lean Democrat.

Among independents and Democrats nationwide

If former Vice President Joe Biden selected each of the following as his vice-presidential candidate in the November 2020 presidential election, would you be more likely to vote for him, less likely to vote for him, or would it make no difference in your vote?
% = Much more likely to vote for Biden/Much less likely to vote for Biden
Elizabeth Warren: 8%/16%
Amy Klobuchar: 6%/11%
Kamala Harris: 6%/13%
Stacey Abrams: 5%/13%
Gretchen Whitmer: 4%/11%
Tammy Baldwin: 3%/8%
Michelle Lujan Grisham: 2%/8%
Val Demings: 2%/9%
Catherine Cortez Masto: 2%/10%
% = Much more likely to vote for Biden/Much less likely to vote for Biden
Elizabeth Warren: 25%/4%
Kamala Harris: 21%/5%
Amy Klobuchar: 14%/4%
Stacey Abrams: 14%/5%
Gretchen Whitmer: 9%/3%
Val Demings: 8%/4%
Tammy Baldwin: 7%/3%
Michelle Lujan Grisham: 7%/3%
Catherine Cortez Masto: 7%/4%
RON’S COMMENT: These two lists tell us more about potential VP candidates than most other polling measurements we’ve seen. That’s because we’re looking only at voters who have strong feelings about each contender––the kind of intensity that will most likely motivate voting for and against the Democratic ticket. We also look at the two most strategically relevant groups for Biden’s candidacy––independents (swing voters) and Democrats (turning out the base): 

  • The top list looks at independent voters––those who are most likely to be swing voters in the general election. As you can see, none of the VP contenders do well among independents and all of them are net negative. Warren has the highest negative, at 16%.
  • The bottom list looks at Democratic voters. All the VP contenders are net positive (no surprise)––but only low to modest percentages of Democrats (between 7% and 25%) say each contender would make them much more likely to vote for Biden.
  • Conclusion: There is no one candidate on this list who helps Biden solidify his base plus would help him appeal to independents. The attention Warren and Harris received as presidential candidates have raised their name ID and helped their standings among Democrats nationwide. Even though they would probably help Biden solidify his base among Democrats better than most other contenders, their standings among independents––voters Biden needs to beat Trump in critical states––is weak. 
  • Question: Is the strongest candidate for VP even on the list? Or is there someone else out there who would help Biden both solidify his base plus strengthen him with independents?

Among U.S. voters nationwide

Ally or enemy: Do you consider [China] to be an ally or an enemy of the United States? 
Ally/friendly: 14%
Unfriendly/enemy: 71%
RON’S COMMENT: 22% of Democrats and 13% of Republicans say China is an ally or friendly.
Cause of the pandemic: Do you think China’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak led to the worldwide pandemic? 
Yes: 68%
No: 13%
Not sure: 19%
RON’S COMMENT: 50% of Democrats, 61% of independents and 79% of Republicans say China’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak led to the worldwide pandemic.
Punish China: Do you think the U.S. should or should not take some action for the express purpose of punishing China for the COVID-19 pandemic? 
Should punish China: 42%
Should not punish China: 34%
Not sure: 24%
RON’S COMMENT: Though 68% of U.S. voters think China’s handling of the outbreak caused the worldwide pandemic, only 42% think the U.S. should punish China…. 23% of Democrats, 39% of independents and 62% of Republicans say the U.S. should punish China.
Xi Jinping: Do you have a favorable or an unfavorable opinion of Xi Jinping? 
Favorable: 10%
Unfavorable: 60%
RON’S COMMENT: The Chinese leader’s favorability in the U.S. is now lower than that of Vladimir Putin’s, 10% vs. 14%.
Trump: Do you approve or disapprove of the way President Trump is handling China? 
Approve: 43%
Disapprove: 48%
RON’S COMMENT: 16% of Democrats, 38% of independents and 78% of Republicans approve of the way President Trump is handling China.

Among voters nationwide

When do you think it will be safe to end social distancing measures and reopen businesses as normal? 
Before or by Sept. 1: 34% 
After Sept. 1: 50%
Not sure: 15% 
RON’S COMMENT: 18% of Democrats, 33% of independents and 54% of Republicans say it will be safe to end social distancing measures and reopen businesses as normal before or by Sept. 1.

Among voters nationwide

Do you approve or disapprove of voting by mail? 
Approve: 65%
Disapprove: 30%
RON’S COMMENT: 84% of Democrats, 53% of independents and 42% of Republicans approve of voting by mail.

Presidential job rating average based on recent nationwide polls.
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: Optimus/Firehouse Strategies, May 16-23
VP SELECTION: Politico/Morning Consult, May 22-26
UTAH: KUTV/Y2 Analytics, May 9-15
NEW YORK: Siena College, May 17-21
ARIZONA: HighGround Public Affairs Consultants, May 18-22
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Publication schedule: Lunchtime Politics will publish Tuesdays and Thursdays during the weeks ahead, but will add special editions when important new data becomes available. As soon as political polling gears up again, we will return to regular daily publication. Thanks to all our readers and best of health, Ron

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