Sep 24, 2020 - Politics & Policy

New interactive tool shows Biden's mail voting danger

Data: SurveyMonkey; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios
Data: SurveyMonkey; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Voters who disapprove of President Trump most strongly are by far the most likely to vote by mail in the presidential election, according to an Axios analysis of exclusive data from SurveyMonkey and Tableau.

Why it matters: The new data shows just how strongly the mail-in vote is likely to favor Joe Biden — with potentially enormous implications in the swing states due to the greater risk of rejection with mail ballots.

  • The data suggests this could be an especially strong factor in the battleground states of Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and Pennsylvania.

Driving the news: Today, SurveyMonkey and Tableau, in partnership with Axios, are launching a data-rich Election 2020 interactive tool. It features self-service visual analytics that will allow us — and you — to go deep to examine variables, including voting intentions by race and age, that could determine the election.

How it works: The tool tracks the Trump vs. Biden race nationally and at the state level. But it also offers a closer look at what really drives voter differences on everything from approval to the environment to immigration.

  • It's built on nearly 700,000 responses since June and will grow to encompass more than 1m interviews by the election, said SurveyMonkey chief research officer Jon Cohen.
  • Users can create their own models and visual analyses by changing assumptions.
  • Results can be filtered by location, time period, party ID, and other variables such as race, gender, age, education level, issue and intensity of response. More data will be added over the coming weeks.
  • It includes sufficient sample sizes to break down smaller slices of the electorate including Black and Asian-American voters.

The big picture: The large-scale, continuous survey shows Biden leading Trump nationally 53%-44% among registered voters this month, compared with 52%-45% since June.

  • It also shows the race shifting in Biden's favor this month in the three states that gave Trump his bare win in 2016, 53%-43% in Michigan, 52%-45% in Pennsylvania; and 51% to 46% in Wisconsin.

Yes, but: The findings give us new means to pinpoint how and where Trump may benefit most if absentee ballots are blocked or rejected at higher rates.

Details: In Arizona, where voting by mail is tradition, the analysis finds 90% of registered voters who strongly disapprove of Trump are likely to vote by mail, compared with 46% of those who strongly approve of the president.

  • In Nevada, where a judge recently dismissed a lawsuit by Trump's campaign to challenge ballots from being sent to all voters because of the pandemic, 75%who strongly disapprove of Trump are likely to vote by mail, compared with 21% who strongly approve of him.
  • In Michigan, the contrast was 79% to 24%.
  • In Wisconsin, it was 77% to 15%.
  • In Florida, it was 75% to 27%.
  • In Pennsylvania, it was 74% to 8%.

For the record: “We are running the most robust voter education program in the history of presidential campaigns,” said TJ Ducklo, national press secretary for the Biden campaign.

  • “We’re investing an unprecedented amount in paid media to ensure voters know their options to vote early, vote by mail, or vote on election day, and how to execute those options effectively."

Between the lines: The extent of the anti-Trump leanings of likely mail voters is just one of many findings that emerge from the data.

  • Another potential danger sign for Biden: 18 percent of registered Black voters under age 30, and 14 percent of registered Black voters age 30 to 44, say they don't intend to vote for president at all.
  • Biden leads Trump 76 percent to 11 percent among all registered Black voters —  leading Trump in all age groups — but the new data is a reminder that there's a significant number who may still sit on the sidelines.

What they're saying: Axios' Alexi McCammond reports that at an Engagious/Schlesinger focus group this week, nine Black voters in Pennsylvania who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and then stayed home or voted third party in 2016 said they didn't feel energized about Biden's candidacy.

  • That's in large part because they feel ignored by Democrats — and Kamala Harris's presence on the ticket isn't enough to excite them.
  • "Don't just say: ‘You should vote for me because I like Black people. I went to the Black barbecue. I got this Black woman running with me and you don't like Donald Trump? So why wouldn’t you vote for me?’" said Barry L. "That’s how [Democrats] sound to me.”
  • When shown a video clip of then-candidate Donald Trump asking Black voters in 2016 "what do you have to lose" by ditching the Democratic Party, Lakeisha A. responded: “This is kind of sour coming from him, but it is kind of true ... I’ve even questioned why I’m a Democrat.”

Methodology: These data come from a series of SurveyMonkey online polls conducted for Tableau and Axios, June 8 - Sept 21, 2020, among a national sample of 674,284 adults in the U.S.

  • Respondents for this survey were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day.
  • Data have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age 18 and over.
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