Steve September 29, 2020
here’s-where-the-candidates-stand-before-the-first-presidential-debate

Tonight, Tweety McTreason and Joe Biden finally face off for the first of three planned debates. We’re once again partnering with Ipsos to track how the debate affects Americans’ views of the election and their feelings about the two candidates. The FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll uses Ipsos’s KnowledgePanel to interview the same group of people both before and after the debate to see how it changes their minds — if it does so at all.

How likely do you think each is to win?

Respondents were also given the option of third-party candidates or ‘someone else.’ Additionally, they could indicate that they will not vote.

When asked how likely they were to vote for each candidate on a scale from 0 to 10, most respondents seemed very sure of their vote: The overwhelming majority gave one candidate a 10 and the other a 0. On average, Biden received a score of 5 out of 10, and Trump a score of 3.8, reflecting Biden’s lead in the polls.

However, when it came to who people think will win the election, respondents were more divided, with many saying both candidates were about equally likely to win. In fact, respondents gave the two about the same chance, a score of 4.7 for Trump and 4.6 for Biden, on average. We’ll see whether either of these metrics changes substantially after the debate, as one thing that’s proven somewhat constant is people thinking that Trump has a good chance to win even though he’s been trailing Biden in the polls.

Supporters are more certain than they are excited

How likely and how excited respondents are to vote in the 2020 presidential election, by preferred candidate

Trump

How likely are you to vote?

How excited are you to vote?

Biden

How likely are you to vote?

How excited are you to vote?

We grouped respondents by which candidate they gave the higher score to (out of 10). Respondents who gave both candidates the same score are not included. Respondents who already voted are included in the “absolutely certain” bucket and respondents who gave themselves a 50-50 shot of voting are included in the “not too likely” bucket.

The overwhelming majority of both candidates’ supporters said they were “absolutely certain” to vote — 84 percent of Biden’s backers and 81 percent of Trump’s. (That includes a small percentage who said they’d already voted, around three percent in Biden’s case and two percent in Trump’s.) Most other supporters said they were “very likely” to vote. However, enthusiasm wasn’t quite as high: Just under 50 percent of each candidate’s supporters said they were “very excited” to vote for them, with another 23 percent saying they were “somewhat excited.”

The popularity contest

How favorably respondents rated each candidate

We’re also tracking how favorably respondents view Biden and Trump. And going into the debate, both candidates’ “very favorable” ratings are actually pretty similar, hovering around 25 percent. However, Trump’s “very unfavorable” rating is much higher than Biden’s — 52 percent, compared to Biden’s 34 percent. This stark split is nowhere more apparent than in each candidate’s net favorability rating (favorable rating minus unfavorable rating): Biden is at +3, while Trump is at -23.

Biden

Trump

from 538

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