Between August 2nd and 4th, Heritage Action commissioned a poll interviewing 400 likely general election voters per state in Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin for a total sample of 1,600 likely voters. We asked where voters stand on today's most pressing issues and the election coming this fall. Across these interviews, we gained valuable insights into policy battleground state voters' attitudes regarding the handling of the COVID-19 crisis, the economy, civil unrest, and attacks against police.
Total sample: 1600
Total sample margin-of-error: +/- 2.45%
Individual state sample: 400
Individual state margin-of-error: 4.9%
General Election Outlook
When we asked whether voters plan to support Republicans or Democrats in the upcoming election, the responses were split, with 43 percent supporting either side. 14 percent remained undecided. Each state's responses equally split within one point (statistically within the margin of error).
We asked voters who they plan to vote for between President Trump and Joe Biden. 48 percent answered Trump. 48 percent answered Biden. Only 4 percent were undecided. In terms of favorability, both President Trump and Joe Biden were viewed unfavorably by 2 points. In each state, the race is a statistical tie.
We asked voters to tell us which issue is most important to them for this election, open-ended. Unsurprisingly, totaling 30 percent of responses, "COVID-19", was the most common response.
While COVID-19 is clearly the top issue in this election, it would be a mistake to view COVID-19 in a vacuum, isolated from other issues. COVID-19 is a broad environmental phenomenon that directly affects virtually every other issue, especially the economy and civil unrest. Our survey sheds light on some of the attitudes shaped by COVID-19, and these attitudes will be described in the following sections.
For months now, Americans tuning into the nightly news have witnessed rioting, looting, and chaos sweep the country.
We presented respondents with two statements regarding the nation's civil unrest and asked them to tell us which state they believed best represented their opinion. One statement read, "These protests are a result of years of injustice and inequality suffered by Americans who are minorities as a result of systemic racism in our police departments and in government in general." The other statement read, "These protests have stopped being about racial injustice and have become violent riots by people who hate America and want to tear down our government and radically change American culture."
49 percent believe the protests have become violent riots and are no longer about social justice, while 43 percent believe protests are a result of racism and injustice.
In the wake of civil unrest, Democrat-run cities continue to push a policy of defunding and abandoning their police forces. As Biden hits the campaign trail, defunding police has become a national Democratic rallying point.
We asked respondents, "Do you favor or oppose the movement to significantly cut funding for police departments across the country, known as defund the police?" 79 percent opposed the movement compared to only 16 percent supporting the movement. Public opinion overwhelmingly supports the police.
Digging deeper, we presented respondents with two conflicting statements and asked them to tell us which one best represented their own opinion. One statement read, "Our country was founded on the rule of law which gives us stability and order, and we cannot continue to be so without police to enforce our laws." The other statement read, "We need to rethink policing in our country because much of the money we spend on police should be spent on social services, welfare programs, and schools instead." 62 percent believe we need police to enforce our laws, while only 29 percent think we need to rethink policing.
COVID-19 has thrown our nation into a state of chaos, and, from our survey, it is clear that policy battleground state voters have come to rely on policing for stability. Any move to destabilize our rule of law and civil society will be broadly unpopular.
Economic issues remain a strength for President Trump. In the battleground states we surveyed, Trump carried a +2 net job approval. Trump's job approval in economic matters was +11.
Likely voters in battleground states are plagued by economic uncertainty. We asked respondents to describe their financial outlook for the upcoming year. Only 25 percent responded, "I am certain my financial situation will improve over the next year." 50 percent answered, "I am hopeful but not certain my financial situation will improve over the next year." 14 percent reported, "I am fearful my financial situation will get worse over the next year."
The COVID-19 crisis's economic destruction certainly caused voters' broad financial anxiety. We asked voters, "Which party do you trust more to rebuild the economy following the COVID-19 pandemic?" 48 percent answered, "Republicans," compared to 42 percent responding, "Democrats."
COVID-19: The Health vs. Economic Disconnect
COVID-19 has attacked Americans on both health and economic fronts. In some national polls, health concerns appear to top economic concerns, but these national polls include many respondents from left-leaning states like California and New York. Our battleground state survey asked, "Do you think the recent COVID-19 outbreak has caused more of a health crisis or economic crisis?" 45 percent answered, "Economic," compared to only 23 percent answering, "health," creating a 22 point gap. While COVID-19's toll on Americans' health is important and should not be discounted, media narratives consistently overlook Americans' economic suffering in battleground states.