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Kalikow School Poll at Hofstra University: Mixed Signals and No Clear Favorite in 2020

Independents favor Trump; Ten percent of Suburban Democrats Unsure About Field

Just over half of likely voters would cast ballots for Vice President Joe Biden or Senator Bernie Sanders in a head-to-head matchup with President Trump, but they’d choose Trump over former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, according to the first Kalikow School Poll at Hofstra University.

Across the board, voters who identify as independents favor Trump, while suburbanites prefer Biden, Sanders or Sen. Elizabeth Warren to the president by a slim margin. If the general election were held today between Trump and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, voters would be split 50-50, the poll found.

Overall results for all head-to-head matchups with President Trump fell within the margin of error, which is three percent.

“The race is close, with many voters supporting Trump’s position on issues they find important,” said Dr. Craig Burnett, associate professor of political science and one of the designers of the poll. “Many voters — including suburbanites — would prefer someone other than Donald Trump to win in 2020, though the person they prefer seems to be someone who is more moderate.”

Among Democratic voters, Biden and Warren are virtually tied (27.5% and 26.6%), with Sanders and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg lagging behind at 12.3 and 8.1 percent, respectively.

And in further reflection of the unsettled nature of the presidential race, 8.2 percent of Democratic voters – more than any other candidate besides the top four – said they were unsure or favored “someone else” over the rest of the primary field.  That figure was 10 percent among Democrats in the suburbs.

At the same time, voters’ reviews of President Trump’s record were sharply divided – 51.3 percent said they disapprove of the way he is handling the job, and when asked specifically about his performance on eight key issues, voters rated him favorably on two, crime and the economy.  His highest approval rating was 55.8 percent for his handling of the economy.

As Congress begins public impeachment inquiry hearings this week, 80.1 percent of those polled correctly identified that a whistleblower complaint sparked the inquiry.  Most – 52.3 percent – support the inquiry, while 49.4 percent support impeaching the president. Seven percent are unsure whether Trump should be impeached. Overall, 45.3 percent of those surveyed support removal.

“Eighty percent of respondents said a whistleblower complaint led to the impeachment inquiry, showing how closely the public is following the issue,” said Dr. Meena Bose, executive dean of Public Policy and Public Service programs and director of the Peter S. Kalikow Center for the Study of the American Presidency.  “At this time, party affiliation largely indicates whether people support or oppose impeachment, but attention to the inquiry’s findings could shift those views.”

The first Kalikow School Poll at Hofstra University was designed by the Peter S. Kalikow School of Government, Public Policy and International Affairs at Hofstra University and executed by YouGov, a market research and data analytics firm that specializes in online polling. It is based on interviews with 1,608 of YouGov’s panelists, matched down to a sample of 1,500 respondents using a proximity matching method.

The poll recorded responses Oct. 25 – 31, 2019 from individuals who are 18 or older and are likely voters in the 2020 election.  The survey oversampled suburban voters, and has an overall margin of error of three percent. The margin of error for suburbanites is 3.6%, 6.8% for urbanites and 8 percent for rural respondents. A second Hofstra University Kalikow poll will be conducted in March 2020.

Among the other findings:

  • Trump would beat former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who recently announced he is considering a presidential run as a Democrat, 45% – 42.1% if the election were held today. But 12.9% of likely voters said they were unsure who they would vote for in a head-to-head race. Bloomberg was supported by 54.8% of urban voters but did not break 50 percent with rural or suburban voters.
  • A large segment of likely voters – 63.9 % – reported concern about election security, and 40.5 % reported knowing a great deal about the Mueller report.
  • 80.1 percent of likely voters correctly identified that a whistleblower complaint was the impetus for the impeachment inquiry.
  • The largest majority of likely voters – 71.9% and 70.5% respectively, ranked healthcare and the economy ‘very important’ in informing their 2020 presidential vote.
  • Among eight elected officials – Trump, Biden, Sanders, Warren, Vice President Mike Pence, President Barack Obama, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, only Pence and Obama scored favorability ratings higher than 50 percent.

Read the full poll

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