Covid-19, racism, and economic growth are the top three issues people chose as important. The societal context around this election – a global pandemic, the ensuing economic fallout, and months of protests nationwide – will not remain in the background.
Biden and Trump have little choice but to shape their campaigns around these conditions. With little room to push other issues where they are strongest into the spotlight, they must instead position themselves within what’s happening on the ground.
Biden will say that current efforts to contain the pandemic within the United States have failed, and he’s already stated that, if elected, he’ll take a science-first approach to tackling Covid-19.
When it comes to race relations, Biden has taken position carefully (with some gaffes in the not-so-distant past). He’s denounced rioting, looting, and all violence, but has recognized systemic racism and the need for peaceful protest. This is consistent with Biden’s more “centered” approach as he tries to appeal to moderates after elements of his party have moved further to the left since his days as vice president.
Trump is relying heavily on his touted past success with the economy, and is trying to paint himself as the law and order candidate.
An area to keep an eye on from both candidates is college football. With some major conferences postponing their seasons due to Covid-19, Biden and Trump are seeing this as an opportunity to create an angle to appeal to voters.
What’s also important is how the issues are split over party lines. We found stark differences between those voting for Biden and those voting for Trump.
Here are the five most important issues for Biden voters (the percentage in brackets shows the proportion of Biden voters saying an issue is in their top three for importance):
- Covid-19 (51%)
- Racism/race relations (49%)
- Healthcare (30%)
- Ethics in government (21%)
- Poverty/inequality (20%)
And here are the five most important issues for Trump voters (the percentage in brackets shows the proportion of Trump voters saying an issue is in their top three for importance):
- Economic growth/jobs (44%)
- Covid-19 (26%)
- Immigration (24%)
- National security (24%)
- Ethics in government (21%)
Covid-19 is far less of an issue for Trump supporters than those who say they’ll vote for Biden, and vice versa for economic growth. Trump has made a lot of noise about his success with the latter, but the virus has obviously hit the economy hard.
In addition to Covid-19, one other issue makes the top five for both sets of voters: ethics in government. “Drain the swamp,” referring to getting rid of corruption, was a rallying cry of Trump’s 2016 campaign. Since then, though, Trump himself has faced accusations of corruption.
Do both sets of voters see “ethics in government” in the same way? In theory, yes – but it’s possible people will only see an ethical violation if it’s their least favorite candidate who’s doing it.
Conventions struggle to grab attention
With the party conventions recently ending, we wanted to find out how much attention people paid to them and what influence they may have had on voting preference.
We asked our respondents about both the Democratic National Convention (DNC) and the Republican National Convention (RNC), starting off with how much of it they actually followed.