A poll conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies last week found that similar numbers of US voters plan on voting in person on Election Day (36%) as plan to vote by mail (38%). A further 17% plan to vote in-person but prior to Election Day, an option which is available only in some states. Overall, the majority (53%) still plan on voting in person, either before or on election day, but a significant minority will be opting for absentee ballots (38%), which are mailed out to voters up to 50 days before Election Day.
More significantly, we found that the majority (54%) of those who plan on voting in-person on Election Day intend to vote for Donald Trump, whereasroughly a third (32%) intend to vote for Joe Biden. On the other hand, two-thirds of those who say they intend to vote by mail also say intend to vote for Biden, whereas only a fifth (22%) intend to vote for Trump.
Looking at our latest voting intention results from this perspective, we see Donald Trump winning considerably among those voting-person on Election Day and, all the same, losing considerably among those voting by mail, a finding we also discovered in our most recent swing states voting in July.
President Donald Trump, in particular, has vocally opposed mail-in voting, arguing that it opens the door to fraud and puts the democratic integrity of the election at risk. The President’s opposition appears to arise from a nuanced distinction between universal mail-in voting, whereby all voters on a voter roll are sent to a ballot, and absentee ballots, whereby voters themselves request a mailed ballot. As he and others, such as Dan Crenshaw, have noted, voter rolls are sometimes inaccurate, meaning many ballots returned from a universal mail-in voting election could turn out be invalid.
Others have contested this distinction is disingenuous and therefore see Donald Trump’s criticism as an attempt to suppress all ballots sent by mail (whether in a mail-in election or via absentee ballots).
It has been reported that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will call on the House of Representatives to vote on a bill to secure funding for USPS in the coming days in order to ensure ballots can be delivered promptly. Failing an agreement on absentee/mail-in voting between Democrats and Republicans, it is nevertheless possible that Election Day in November will end with considerable uncertainty over the outcome of the election.