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August 2020: Presidential Race Tightens After Party Conventions

Since the Emerson College July national poll, President Donald Trump has tightened the presidential race to a two-point margin, and is now trailing former Vice President Joe Biden 49% to 47%. In July, former V.P. Joe Biden held a four-point lead over President Trump –– 50% to 46%.

Spencer Kimball, Director of Emerson College Polling explains “the Republican convention gave Trump his most positive week of news coverage which likely attributes to his bounce in this month’s poll and increasing job approval.” 

Voters planning to vote early in person are breaking for Trump 50% to 49% while those who plan to vote in person on election break for the President 57% to 37%. Voters who said they plan to vote by mail break for Biden 67% to 28%.



Trump leads with male voters 50% to 45% and Biden leads with female voters 52% to 44%.  

Biden leads with independents 50% to 42%. Trump has an 83% to 14% lead over Biden with Republicans while Biden leads Trump 79% to 18% among Democratic voters.

Looking at the 2016 voting patterns, Trump voters from 2016 break for the President 91% to 7% for Biden while Clinton voters from 2016 are breaking for Biden 88% to 9% for Trump. Voters who went with a third party candidate in 2016 are breaking for Biden nearly 3:1 at 59% to 18%. New voters in 2020 are breaking from the President 51% to 44%.

Biden leads with all minority groups, albeit by different ranges. Biden leads with Asians 76% to 11%, Blacks/African Americans 77% to 19%, and Hispanic voters break for Biden 60% to 37%. White voters break for President Trump 56% to 41%.

Biden leads with voters over 65 years old 55% to 41% and with younger voters 18-29 at 61% to 34%. Trump leads with voters 30-49 53% to 41% and with voters 50-64 with 51% and Biden at 47%.

For the first time since he’s taken office, Trump’s job approval rating is approaching a majority, at 49% approval and 47% disapproval. This is a jump of four points since July, where Trump had 45% approval and 51% disapproval. Trump’s approval is the highest among those aged 30-49 (55% approval), and lowest among those aged 18-29 (37% approval). His approval among those aged 65 and older has fallen almost ten percent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, from 50% approval in February to 41% approval today.

Caller ID

The August National Emerson College poll was conducted August 30-31, 2020. The sample consisted of likely Democratic, Republican, and Independent voters, n=1567, with a Credibility Interval (CI) similar to a poll’s margin of error (MOE) of +/-2.4 percentage points. The data sets were weighted by gender, age, education, party affiliation, race and region based on 2016 voter turnout modeling. It is important to remember that subsets based on gender, age, party breakdown, ethnicity, and region carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. Data was collected using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines (n=770) and an online panel provided by MTurk (n=797).

Key Takeaways
  • Trump's approval at highest point since 2016
  • General election gap tightening-- Biden now leads by 2
  • Trump continues to lose ground with voters 65 and older
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The Republican convention gave Trump his most positive week of news coverage which likely attributes to his bounce in this month’s poll and increas...
Spencer KimballEmerson College Polling director
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Emerson Polling
emersonpolling@emerson.edu
+1 617.824.3491
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Emerson Polling
emersonpolling@emerson.edu
+1 617.824.3491
Media