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Biden Leads Trump in Florida, But President Favored to Win New Term

paul-owers/powers@fau.edu | Fri May 15, 2020

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Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has pushed ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump in Florida, but Trump still is favored to win re-election, according to a statewide survey of registered Florida voters by the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative (FAU BEPI).

Biden polled at 53 percent to Trump’s 47 percent, a reversal from the March survey, when Trump narrowly led Biden. Still, 53 percent of respondents say the president will beat Biden in November. Meanwhile, 78 percent of Trump supporters say they’re excited for their candidate, while 64 percent of Biden supporters report excitement.

Independent voters, expected to be a key group in deciding the race for the White House, prefer Biden by a slight margin of 41 percent to 39 percent. However, 63 percent of independents voting for Trump are excited to support him, while 50 percent of independents for Biden are excited to support him.

“While Joe Biden does not seem to generate the enthusiasm that past candidates have garnered, it might not matter,” said Kevin Wagner, Ph.D., a professor of political science at FAU and a research fellow of the Initiative. “Many Democrats seem motivated by the desire to defeat President Trump.”

Biden may generate more excitement after he chooses a vice presidential running mate, but a clear favorite among his Florida supporters has not yet emerged. U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris was the preference of 23 percent of respondents, while U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren earned 16 percent. Biden has said he plans to select a female running mate.

Respondents were evenly split at 45 percent on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. His overall approval rating dropped to 43 percent, while his disapproval rose to 46 percent. In March, his approval was at 49 percent and his disapproval at 41 percent.

Biden, the former U.S. vice president, enjoys overwhelming support in the Democratic stronghold of South Florida, leading 61 percent to 30 percent, but Trump is winning the rest of the state, 48 percent to 42 percent.

The most important issue for voters is the economy (28 percent), followed by someone who can beat Trump (20 percent), health care (18 percent), re-electing Trump (13 percent) and immigration (12 percent). Democrats cited beating Trump as the most important issue, followed by health care, while Republicans say the economy is the most important issue, followed by re-electing Trump. Among independent voters, immigration was the most important topic.

“For independents in Florida, this election is not about beating or re-electing Donald Trump like it is for partisans,” said Monica Escaleras, Ph.D., director of FAU BEPI in the College of Business. “Instead, these voters are looking for solutions to immigration, the economy and health care.”

As for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, 51 percent approve of the job he is doing, down 3 percentage points from March, while 32 percent disapprove. When it comes to how he is handling the coronavirus, 49 percent approve and 36 percent disapprove.

The survey of 928 registered Florida voters was conducted May 8-12. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points. It is important to remember that subsets carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. The data was weighted by ethnicity, age, education, party affiliation, region and gender, based on a 2016 voter model. Data was collected using both an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines provided by Aristotle Inc. and an online panel provided by Dynata. The polling results and full cross-tabulations are available at www.business.fau.edu/bepi.

-FAU-