Trendency: Biden Leads, But Not Much Change Over Past Month

Some very troubling signs that Black support is softening for Biden ... while the Black "non-voting" rate is way too high

a Trendency Research feature

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Rocket fuel': How black voters could deliver a Super Tuesday ...

While national and state polls have show Joe Biden surging, the Trendency 2020 Voter Allocation shows little change in the last month. Biden holds a steady lead over Trump, 46 percent to 37 percent (a 9 point lead). '

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As a reminder, Trendency Panelists do not choose one position over the other, but allocate their response over all choices given. Trendency’s Average Allocation is the average score, in this case, as a percentage vote among

  • Trump

  • Biden

  • a third-party candidate, and

  • not voting

This nuanced approach helps identify shifts or strengthening or weakening of a position. In this case, while we don’t see a significant shift among registered voters, we do see it among a few key constituencies (more on that below).

Trendency’s Higher Allocation measurement ignores voter intensity and captures more of a “horse-race” top-line look. Of Trendency’s panelists, 50 percent allocated more to Biden, while 37 percent allocated more to Trump - with 13 percent giving Biden-Trump equal allocation.

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Voter Availability

Trendency has three categories of voter intensity:

  1. Committed Voter Index

  2. Available Voters

  3. Unavailable Voters

Available voters are voters that are either leaning or open to voting for a candidate - effectively the candidates’ ceiling.

The “floor” is a candidate’s Commitment Index: these are voters that are highly likely to turn out and vote for their candidate. Unavailable Vote is just the opposite, these are voters that will either not turnout or vote for one of your opponents (3rd party or the other major candidate).

After a significant increase from April to June in Biden’s Commitment Index (10-point increase), we saw no significant change in the last 30 days. Trump also saw a small increase again among his Committed Voter index, from 25 percent to 28 percent. However, Trump's share of Unavailable Voter Index remains above 50 percent, reducing his ceiling and affording him an opportunity to make up much-needed ground.

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Trendlines of Key Constituencies

Last month, we found that Biden’s advantage in the average increased significantly among …

  • Independents

  • Seniors, and

  • White voters

This is a significant development as all three groups have at one point favored Trump or were tied.

Black voters, who overwhelmingly support Biden, also saw a small increase. However, as we noted at the time, the average allocation among Black voters had been trending downward for Biden. This trend has continued over the past four weeks. As for the other cohorts, the average allocation has moved more in Trump's favor.

Biden still holds an advantage among seniors, independents, and Black voters both in Trendency’s Average Allocation and Higher Allocation. But: he has moved into a tie among White voters (43/43). Given the average trend lines among White voters have remained fairly close or tied over the last few months, we anticipate this will remain close through the remainder of the summer. Independent and senior voters have been more volatile throughout the president’s handling of the pandemic, but Biden continues to hold the lead.

The biggest concern for Biden however is not Trump’s gains among independents, senior or White voters. It’s the weakening or the softening of Biden’s support among Black voters, a trend that we’ve seen now since Biden wrapped up the Democratic nomination in early May. To be clear, Trump is not going to win over Black voters: only 23% of Black voters allocated a higher percentage of their vote to Trump. Biden’s average decline seems to be much closely tied to the rise in “not voting”, which started has increased threefold (5 percent to 16 percent) over the past few months.

This being said the percent of Black voters that we consider committed to the candidate dropped 10 points over the past month with most of the voters moving into the available category. On the face of things, this makes little sense given everything that has been happening in this country with the pandemic, Black Lives Matter movement, and the president's response to the fight for racial justice. This type of inexplicable movement has not been present in our data since the lead up to the 2016 election in states such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

While we have no hard evidence to point to, our hypothesis is that there is likely an effort on social media targeting Black Americans with the aim to soften the support for Joe Biden and try to encourage Black voters to stay home on Election Day. Since Facebook will not share information on who is buying what ads, and we do not have the ability to track everything happening on Twitter, backing up this theory is nearly impossible. However, we would be surprised if the hypothesis were incorrect.

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