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Thirteen Percent

Charlottesville, Virginia

July 25, 2020

This article is from the WSJ. My comments of polling apply here, too, but I was surprised that the poll found only 13 percent of the sample was undecided at this point. And, of course, these nationwide surveys are somewhat useless since we have the Electoral College. But still interesting.

Meet an exclusive club of presidential voters: politically moderate, lukewarm on both candidates, frustrated by the system and not sure exactly how, if or for whom they will cast a ballot.

A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll revealed that just 13% of voters say their vote is up for grabs in the presidential election. That is compared with 50% who say there is no chance they will support President Trump and 37% who say there is no chance they will support presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

The up-for-grabs or persuadable voters are people who said that they currently don’t support either Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden or that they back one candidate but still might vote for the other. The small size of that group underscores the divisions in the nation’s politics. Still, they could have an outsize impact on the results. For Mr. Trump, who had 40% of support from all registered voters in the poll to Mr. Biden’s 51%, winning them over is one pathway to close the gap.

“Right now, Trump’s down 11 points. This is a group he’s got to run the table with. He’s got to win all of them,” said Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt, who worked on the survey with Republican Bill McInturff.

Bill Davis, 65 years old, from Texas, said he voted for a third-party candidate in 2016 due to his frustration with both candidates. Right now, he says he expects to back Mr. Biden, but it is still possible that could change.

Currently, 17% of the persuadable voters say they prefer Mr. Trump, 14% say Mr. Biden and 53% say neither. They consider themselves slightly more Republican than Democratic or independent and would prefer a GOP-majority Congress to a Democratic-led one. But in 2016, 48% of them didn’t vote or voted third-party, which raises questions about how many will show up for either candidate.

“This a Republican-leaning group, but given where he is and given where they are there’s not nearly enough and there’s not a lot of confidence there that they’re going to vote,” Mr. Horwitt said.

There are more men than women in this group and it trends younger, with 42% between the ages of 18 and 34. In the poll, they identified themselves as politically moderate and gave Mr. Trump a mixed review on the issues, with the economy his greatest strength, as it is with all voters.

Mr. McInturff described them as “male, working class, younger, disenfranchised and disenchanted with our political system.”

“They’re sort of these radical free agents,” he said.

On the economy, 66% of this group approve of Mr. Trump’s performance, compared with 24% that disapprove. But 69% disapprove of his handling of the coronavirus, compared with 24% who approve. And on race relations, 75% disapprove of his efforts, compared with 20% who approve.

Survey respondents reflected those mixed feelings—as well as some Mr. Davis said he appreciated some of Mr. Trump’s moves, including his efforts on immigration, saying that he is “paying attention to a lot of people who have just felt ignored over the last 20 years, people who have real concerns about the way immigration is run.”

He said he was frustrated with the president’s handling of the coronavirus and his rhetoric.

Still, he left the door cracked for Mr. Trump, saying: “He could turn it around. If he behaved like a rational adult for the next three months and was able to pull a couple of rabbits out of his hat as related to the pandemic.”

He said one key factor for him will be who Mr. Biden chooses as his running mate: “I really, really liked John McCain. But when he selected Palin, I would not vote for him.”

Daniel Lopez, 54, of Texas, said he was still “swinging toward Trump,” praising his efforts on the economy and his opposition to abortion. But he said the president’s language troubled him at times.

“My biggest issue with him is the way he says things. That is the biggest thing,” said Mr. Lopez, who voted for the president in 2016.

But he said he didn’t like the Democratic message on immigration and said of Mr. Biden: “I think Biden is very political. I don’t know whether we’re going to get the results or if we’re going to get too much talk.”

Steven Wind, 22, of New York, underscored the frustration many of these voters feel.

“I didn’t think it could get worse between the two candidates,” he said. “I think I might be leaning more toward Trump…I think that Biden has no idea what’s going on.”

He praised Mr. Trump’s meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and said he “did some good for the economy.” He added: “Although he says things that seem very questionable, I think he keeps it very real.”

Mr. Wind, who said he was a supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2016 and 2020 Democratic primaries, summed it up for a lot of the persuadable voters. “I’m just looking forward to the 2024 election at this point,” he said.

The Journal/NBC News poll surveyed 900 registered voters July 9-12. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.27 percentage points.

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