skip to main content
Gallup Blog
Gallup Election 2020 Coverage
Gallup Blog

Gallup Election 2020 Coverage

Gallup Election 2020 Coverage

October 22, 2020

Americans' mentions of the top problem facing the country today are light on economic worries and international concerns while heavy on the coronavirus pandemic and government.

In the latest poll, conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 15, the percentage of U.S. adults naming the coronavirus as the top problem is back up to 30% after slipping to 25% in September -- but still not as high as it was in April (45%). Government/Poor leadership is cited by 23%, followed by race relations at 10%.

Mentions of the economy in general are at 9% this month, up slightly from September (5%). When combining all economic-oriented issues cited, including unemployment and the wealth gap, 14% of Americans mention some aspect of the economy, up from 9% last month.

Top 10 Most Important Problems on Americans' Minds Ahead of the Election
What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?
Aug 31-Sep 13, 2020 Sep 30-Oct 15, 2020
% %
Coronavirus/Diseases 25 30
The government/Poor leadership 25 23
Race relations/Racism 13 10
Economy in general 5 9
Unifying the country 6 5
Crime/Violence 8 5
Healthcare 3 4
Unemployment/Jobs 2 3
Judicial system/Courts/Laws 3 3
Environment/Pollution/Climate change 2 3
Net non-economic problems 91 87
Net economic problems 9 14
"Net non-economic problems" and "Net economic problems" are the percentages of Americans naming at least one issue in each category of problems.
Gallup

At a time when the U.S. is not involved in any major military conflicts, international problems do not make the top 10 -- similar to what Gallup found just before the 2012 presidential election. The only issue in this domain currently cited by even 1% of Americans is relations with China.

Gallup has asked its "most important problem facing the country" question monthly since March 2001, and prior to that asked it frequently over the years since 1939. The last time economic mentions were this low immediately preceding a presidential election in which an incumbent was running was in 1964. At that time, a number of international concerns and domestic racial issues were the dominant responses.

Mentions of the Economy as Most Important Problem in Presidential Reelection Years
Final preelection readings in years when incumbent is running
Net economic mentions
%
2020 Sep 30-Oct 15 14
2012 Oct 15-16 72
2004 Oct 11-14 40
1996 Jul 25-28 40
1992 Aug 28-Sep 2 69
1984 Sep 28-Oct 1 48
1980 Oct 10-13 66
1976 Oct 22-25 65
1972 Oct 13-16 31
1964 Oct 8-13 13
"Net economic mentions" is the percentage naming one or more economic issues, something Gallup has computed since 1996. Figures for 1964-1992 are combined mentions of the leading economic issues cited over the years (the economy, unemployment, inflation and the federal budget deficit).
Gallup

This doesn't mean the economy won't be an important factor in the 2020 election. In fact, the economy ranks as the No. 1 issue that voters say will matter to them in their vote for president. However, 2020 presents an unusual situation in which members of both major political parties may have strong incentives not to mention the economy as the nation's top problem.

  • Republicans may not mention it as the top problem because they associate the economy with President Donald Trump's job performance on the issue, which they review positively.
  • Democrats may not name it because they see addressing the COVID-19 situation as the higher priority, at a time when many see the battle against the virus and keeping the economy open as a zero-sum game.

Key Election Insights

Several recent Gallup reports on Trump's ratings and voting in 2020 provide important context for the nation's electoral climate.

  • Gallup's semifinal job approval rating on Trump before Election Day is 43%, well short of the 50% threshold met by most incumbents who have won reelection. The only exception to date was George W. Bush, whose approval rating varied between 48% and 51% in the days leading up to his reelection in 2004.

Learn how Trump's rating compares historically and about the record political polarization of his latest approval rating: Trump Job Rating Steady; Other Mood Indicators Tick Up

  • Joe Biden leads Trump 54% to 47% in Gallup's historical "scalometer" measure of candidate favorability.

Read all about the historical context for these figures: Candidate Favorable Ratings Up Over 2016, but Still Low

  • A record-high 77% of U.S. voters say the 2020 election matters more to them than previous elections have, with Democrats leading Republicans 85% to 79% in expressing this sentiment. Fewer independents feel this way, although the 69% saying so comes close to their previous high.

Get the full story: More Voters Than in Prior Years Say Election Outcome Matters

  • Less than half of Republicans (44%) are confident that the votes for president will be accurately cast and counted this year. Their biggest concern is people using fraudulent means to cast votes (70% predict this will be a major problem) and votes being cast by people who are not legally eligible (67%).

Learn how Republicans' fears about the election compare with those of Democrats: Confidence in Accuracy of U.S. Election Matches Record Low

____________________________________________________

October 18, 2020

Three issues have dominated public discussion this year as the country fell into a pandemic followed by a recession and experienced a seminal moment in race relations after the death of George Floyd in May. As such, candidates' positioning on the economy, race relations and the coronavirus all rank fairly high in importance to Americans' vote this year among 16 issues asked about. Two of these issues -- the coronavirus response and race relations -- show significant gender differences in stated importance. The economy is more of a universal concern.

Women are more likely to be Democrats than Republicans, and thus differences in views on the issues by gender will reflect these underlying partisan distinctions. One way to see past this is to review gender differences within each party group.

Here we do just that, based on Gallup's Sept. 14-28 national poll.

Importance of Key Issues to Vote for President, by Gender and Party
% Extremely important
Economy Coronavirus response Race relations
% % %
Republicans/Lean Republican
Men 48 19 15
Women 49 27 33
Republican gender gap (pct. pts.) 1 8 18
Democrats/Lean Democratic
Men 38 59 47
Women 42 65 62
Democratic gender gap (pct. pts.) 4 6 15
Based on registered voters
Gallup, Sept. 14-28, 2020

So, what do these figures show?

  1. Women of both major parties who are registered to vote are more likely than their male counterparts to rate race relations as extremely important to their vote, resulting in an 18-percentage-point gender gap among Republican voters (including independents who lean Republican) and a 15-point gap among Democratic voters (including Democratic leaners).

  2. The response to the coronavirus as a voting issue sparks smaller gender differences in both parties: 27% of Republican women versus 19% of Republican men rate the coronavirus response as extremely important to their vote. That eight-point difference compares with a six-point gender gap among Democrats. These findings align with the larger gender patterns on COVID-19 related to women being more concerned about contracting the illness and being more likely to take preventive measures such as social distancing.

  3. Views of the economy's importance show little difference by gender among registered voters.

To the extent that certain issues could sway voters this year, candidates' positioning on race relations and the coronavirus response may be more galvanizing to women than to men.

Among registered voters, fewer Republican men and women approve of President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus response and race relations than approve of his handling of the economy. Thus, he risks losing some base support on these issues -- particularly among women, who see the issues as major factors in their vote.

President Trump Job Approval on Key Issues, by Gender and Party
% Approve
Economy Coronavirus response Race relations
% % %
Republicans/Lean Republican
Men 93 83 77
Women 93 87 81
Democrats/Lean Democratic
Men 22 5 9
Women 12 3 3
Based on registered voters
Gallup, Sept. 14-28, 2020

____________________________________________________

October 7, 2020

From now through Election Day, Gallup will feature a rolling blog of metrics and data on Americans' views during this unprecedented presidential election campaign. Gallup will still publish in-depth articles on key findings, but we will also use this blog to keep you informed about a variety of other must-know discoveries. Follow @GallupNews on Twitter for frequent updates to this blog.

For additional trends and insights, visit Gallup's 2020 Presidential Election Center.

Views on Candidates' Qualities, Agreement With Them on Issues

Before the first presidential debate and news that President Donald Trump had contracted COVID-19, American voters were more likely to say his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, has the personality and leadership qualities that a president should have. According to Gallup's Sept. 14-28 poll, nearly half of registered voters (49%) agreed that Biden has these qualities, while 44% agreed that Trump has them. At the same time, similar percentages of voters said they agree with the candidates on the issues: 49% said so of Trump and 46% of Biden.

Bar graph. American voters' views of Donald Trump and Joe Biden. 49% of Americans say they agree with Donald Trump on the issues that matter most to them, compared with 46% who say they same of Joe Biden. 49% say Joe Biden has the personality and leadership qualities a president should have, with 44% say the same of Donald Trump.

Most Say They Are Better Off Now Than Four Years Ago

During his presidential campaign in 1980, Ronald Reagan asked Americans, "Are you better off today than you were four years ago?" Since then, this question has served as a key standard that sitting presidents running for reelection have been held to.

Gallup's most recent survey found a clear majority of registered voters (56%) saying they are better off now than they were four years ago, while 32% said they are worse off.

Bar graph. Americans' views they are better or worse off now then they were four years ago. Currently, 56% of registered voters say they are better off than they were four years ago. In 2012, 45% of Americans said the same, while in 2004, 47% of registered voters agreed they were better off. In 1992, 38% of all Americans said they were better off and in 1984, 44% of the U.S. public said they were better off.

Review Gallup's findings on all aspects of Election 2020:

This blog will be updated frequently between now and Election Day with unique insights and findings from Gallup's final preelection polls. Please bookmark and visit often, or follow @GallupNews on Twitter to stay informed.

Explore more of Gallup's Election 2020 content below:

October 2020 Election Content
September 2020 Election Content
August 2020 Election Content
July 2020 Election Content
June 2020 Election Content
May 2020 Election Content
Gallup 2020 Election Scene-Setters for Key Metrics

Author(s)

Lydia Saad is a Senior Editor at Gallup.


Gallup https://news.gallup.com/opinion/gallup/321650/gallup-election-2020-coverage.aspx
Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030