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Ohio, Texas, and California 2020: Trump with Narrow Leads in Ohio and Texas, but has Widespread Expectation of Being Re-elected

The latest Emerson College/Nexstar Media polls of Texas, California, and Ohio show President Donald Trump with a slight advantage in Ohio and Texas in the general election against presumptive Democratic nominee former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump also appears to be who voters in these states expect to win in November, as a majority expect him to secure a second term. 

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to deeply affect the country, Governors in all three states maintain strong approval and partisan divides are stark in individual opinions on the country’s future.


General Election and Approval Ratings

In Ohio, a state that has historically been key to a Republican Presidential win in the general election, President Trump has a net positive approval rating, 48% approval to 45% disapproval. Republican Governor Mike DeWine has 71% approval and 15% disapproval among voters in the state. n=725, +/-3.5%.

Trump leads Biden by three points among Ohio voters, 46% to 43%; when undecided voters are included, Trump’s lead slightly tightens to 51% to 49%. Despite the close ballot test, 62% of Ohio voters think Trump will be re-elected.

A majority of Ohio voters, 56%, would prefer to vote by mail instead of vote in person in November because of safety concerns related to the coronavirus.

In Texas, a potential new battleground state, President Trump is at 46% approval and 44% disapproval. Republican Governor Greg Abbott has 54% approval and 32% disapproval among voters in the state. n=800, +/-3.4%.

Trump leads Biden by six points among Texas voters, 47% to 41%, but when undecided voters are included, Trump’s lead tightens to four points, 52% to 48%. Despite the close ballot test, a clear majority of voters in Texas, 61%, expect Trump to be re-elected.

A slight majority in Texas, 51%, would rather vote by mail this year because of concerns about safety related to the virus.

In California, one of the most Democratic states in the country, voters give President Trump a low job performance review with 59% disapproval and 30% approval. Conversely, the Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom received a 65% approval rating with 20% disapproval. n=800, +/-3.4%

Biden leads Trump by 30 points, 59% to 29%, among California voters. Undecided voters are split in their support, and when included the margin stays the same at 65% to 35%. Despite Biden’s 30 point lead, only 54% of California voters think he will win come November.

Spencer Kimball, Director of Emerson College Polling, notes "Despite the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on society, this data does not find a shift in the Presidential race in Ohio, Texas or California."



In California, a state that has mail balloting in place, a majority of 76% said they prefer to vote by mail to voting in person this November because of safety concerns related to the virus.

Excitement Factor, Vice Presidential Pick, and Most Important Issue

Across all three states, Trump voters are reporting higher levels of excitement than Biden voters. In Ohio, 70% of Trump voters are extremely or very excited to vote for him, while only 39% of Biden voters report the same level of excitement. In Texas, 67% of Trump voters are extremely or very excited, compared to 40% of Biden voters. In California, things are slightly closer, with 55% of Trump voters reporting as extremely or very excited, compared to 48% of Biden voters.

Lack of enthusiasm for Biden can also be seen with 48% of Ohio Democratic voters, 51% of Texas Democratic voters, and 46% of California Democratic voters saying they would rather have NY Governor Andrew Cuomo as the Democratic party nominee.

A plurality of Ohio Democratic voters, 29%, want Biden to choose Sen. Elizabeth Warren as his Vice President, followed by Sen. Kamala Harris at 19%, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former State Sen. Stacey Abrams tied for 3rd at 11%, with 22% saying someone else. Among Texas Democratic voters, Warren is also the top pick, with 34% saying they would like to see Biden pick her as VP, followed by Harris at 21% and Abrams at 10%, with 22% saying someone else. California Democratic voters would most like to see home-state Sen. Kamala Harris as Biden’s VP, with 25%, followed by Warren at 24% and Klobuchar at 13%, with 23% saying someone else. 

In Ohio, the most important issue for voters is the economy at 30%, but the second most important issue at 25% is someone who can beat Trump. Healthcare comes in third at 15%, followed by re-electing Trump at 14%.

In Texas, the most important issue for voters is the economy at 32%, followed by beating Trump at 22%, healthcare at 16%, and re-electing Trump at 15%.

In California, the most important issue for voters is the economy at 32%, followed by beating Trump at 30%, and healthcare at 17%.




Coronavirus

When asked about the Coronavirus, 22% in Ohio, 20% in Texas, and 16% in California say they have or know someone who has tested positive.

As the unemployment rate nationwide continues to grow, 32% in Ohio, 26% in Texas, and 33% in California report that they or someone in their household has lost their job as a result of the coronavirus.

Voters in all three states were asked about their comfort level for resuming daily activities with some spacing precautions: In Ohio, a slight majority, 51%, is comfortable with going to a restaurant, 67% are comfortable going to the beach or a park, and 43% are comfortable going to the gym with some spacing precautions. In Texas, 40% are comfortable going to a restaurant, 58% are comfortable going to the beach or a park, and 32% are comfortable going to the gym with some spacing precautions. In California, 35% are comfortable going to a restaurant, 55% are comfortable going to the beach or a park, and only 26% feel comfortable going to the gym with some spacing precautions.

There is a large partisan divide in all three states on these issues, seen in the charts below: 





Key Takeaways
  • Significant partisan divide surrounding return to normalcy
  • Trump voters consistently report higher levels of excitement than Biden voters
  • Across the three states, over 25% report job loss in their household due to crisis
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"Despite the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on society, this data does not find a shift in the Presidential race in Ohio, Texas or California."
Spencer KimballDirector of Emerson College Polling
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