LUNCHTIME POLITICS: Voting Method – Capital Punishment – McConnell Leads, Graham Tied

Your Daily Polling Update for Thursday, September 17, 2020

Down 2 from yesterday

RON’S COMMENT: Trump falls back by 2 points from yesterday’s 46%…. Today’s average is based on six polls, ranging from 38% (Politico) to 51% (Rasmussen). Without these extremes it would still be 44%…. Trump’s disapproval rating averages 54% today (+1 from yesterday)…. See the trend in Trump’s job approval average since the beginning of 2020 at approval trend.

Among general election voters

Nationwide Popular Vote
(Reuters) Biden +9 (50-41)
(Rasmussen) Trump +1 (50-41)
Average of last four polls: Biden +5.8
RON’S COMMENT: Rasmussen often shows Trump doing better than other polls and Reuters polling often shows Trump doing worse than other polls. This is why we average polls––and why you should never get too excited or depressed by any one poll in a presidential race.
In the States
States Trump carried in 2016: 
NORTH CAROLINA (USA Today): Biden +3
ARIZONA (Monmouth): Biden +2
KENTUCKY (Quinnipiac): Trump +20
SOUTH CAROLINA (Quinnipiac): Trump +6
UTAH (USA Today): Trump +18
States Clinton carried in 2016: 
MAINE (Quinnipiac): Biden +21
RON’S COMMENT: This new polling has Biden leading North Carolina and Arizona, but the race remains tight in both states. The average of the last four polls in North Carolina shows Biden ahead by 1 point and the average of the last four polls from Arizona has Biden ahead by 4.3 points. Also: 

  • Trump carried Kentucky in 2016 by 30 points and South Carolina by 14 points. He leads both states, but the numbers are closer now.
  • Trump won Utah in 2016 by 18 points in a three-way race. This poll gives him the same lead.
  • Trump lost California by 30 points in 2016. This poll shows him with a similar deficit. 
  • This Maine poll has Biden surprisingly far ahead; he also leads both of the state’s Congressional districts. Keep in mind: Quinnipiac polls often show Democrats doing better than other polls.

Among voters in each state

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) over Amy McGrath (R): +12 (53-41)
COMMENT: Handicappers rate this Senate race safe or likely Republican.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) and Jaime Harrison (D): even (48-48)
COMMENT: Most observers expect Graham to win re-election, although polls have been showing a close race. This poll indicates that Graham’s problem is less partisan than it is personal:  

  • Graham’s personal rating is 44% favorable/49% unfavorable. 
  • Harrison’s personal rating is 47% favorable/34% unfavorable.
  • By a margin of 49-40, voters say Graham is not honest. By a margin of 48-24, voters say that Harrison is honest
  • By a margin of 55-25, voters say Harrison cares about average people. By a margin of 48-45, voters say that Graham does not care about average people. 
  • But: Voters by a 52 – 44 margin want to see the Republican Party win control of the Senate.
  • Handicappers rate the race likely or lean Democratic.

Sara Gideon (D) over Sen. Susan Collins (R): +12 (54-42)
RON’S COMMENT: This is by far the biggest lead we’ve seen for Gideon. Quinnipiac polls often show Democrats doing better than other polls. Nonetheless, the last four pols put Gideon ahead by an average of 6.5 points, a clear lead…. Handicappers rate the contest tossup.

Cal Cunningham (D) over Sen. Thom Tillis (R): +4 (42-38)
COMMENT: The average of the last four polls has Cunningham ahead by 3.3 points…. Handicappers rate this race a tossup.
Mark Kelly (D) over Sen. Martha McSally (R): +4 (50-46)
RON’S COMMENT: The average of the last four polls has Kelly ahead by 6.5 points…. Handicappers rate the contest tilt or lean Democratic.

Among voters nationwide

How do you plan on voting in 2020? 
In person on election day: 35% 
In person before the election (early voting): 21% 
By mail: 42%
RON’S COMMENT: 52% of Trump’s voters will vote in person on election day versus 22% of Biden’s supporters. 56% of Biden’s voters will vote by mail versus 25% of Trump’s voters. Also: 22% of Biden’s voters and 21% of Trump’s voters will in person (early) before the election.

Among voters nationwide

Do you favor the death penalty for murder? 
Yes, always: 17% 
Yes, sometimes, depending on the circumstances: 55%
No, the death penalty is wrong: 22% 
Don’t know: 6%
RON’S COMMENT: 60% of Biden supporters and 89% of Trump supporters support the death penalty for murder “always” or “sometimes.” The groups with the largest percentages saying they never support the death penalty are those with postgraduate degrees (34%) and Biden supporters (35%).

Presidential job rating average based on recent nationwide polls.
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: Reuters/Ipsos, Sept. 11-15; Rasmussen, Sept. 9-15
KENTUCKY, MAINE, SOUTH CAROLINA: Quinnipiac, Sept. 10-14 
ARIZONA: Monmouth, Sept. 11-15
VOTING METHOD, CAPITAL PUNISHMENT: The Economist/YouGov, Sept. 13-15
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Publication schedule: Lunchtime Politics publishes daily, Monday thru Friday, between now and the Nov. 3 election. Thanks to all our readers and best of health, Ron

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