FAU Poll: Biden Regains Lead on Trump in Battleground Florida

By paul owers | 10/13/2020

With the presidential election less than a month away, Democratic nominee Joe Biden pushed ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump in the battleground Sunshine State, according to a survey of likely Florida voters by the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative  (FAU BEPI).

Biden now leads Trump 51 percent to 47 percent after Trump pulled into a dead heat in September. Still, 8 percent of the respondents said they could change their minds, and the poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points.

Trump led Biden 51 percent to 49 percent in the March poll, but Biden surged ahead in May, 53 percent to 47 percent.

In this latest poll, 44 percent of respondents said Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis was good or excellent, while 50 percent said it was poor or terrible.    

As it was in the September poll, the economy was the most important issue among respondents (38 percent), followed by the coronavirus (18 percent), healthcare (17 percent) and racism/equality (11 percent).

 Those who said the economy is most important are siding with Trump, 80 percent to 16 percent, while those who cited the coronavirus are breaking for Biden, 92 percent to 8 percent.  

“The economy and the coronavirus are key issues for voters and if perception of either issue changes so could people’s votes,” said Monica Escaleras, Ph.D., director of FAU BEPI in the College of Business.

Kevin Wagner, Ph.D., a professor of political science at FAU and a research fellow of the Initiative, said Biden is making strides among older voters, which could be a key in defeating Trump.

“Joe Biden continues to be competing better for senior voters than Hillary Clinton did in 2016, and that could be the difference in Florida,” he said.

In terms of how respondents will cast their ballots, 44 percent plan to vote by mail, 30 percent plan to vote early in person and 25 percent plan to vote on Election Day. Biden is the choice among people voting by mail, while Trump is the selection of early, in-person voters and those waiting until Election Day.

On the issue of Trump’s tax returns, 58 percent think he should release the documents, 29 percent think he should not and 13 percent were undecided. 

Trump’s approval rating was 44 percent, compared with 47 percent in the September poll, while his disapproval rating of 51 percent increased from September’s 49 percent.

Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ approval rating held steady at 43 percent, while his disapproval rating increased to 48 percent from 43 percent in September’s poll.

The survey of 644 likely Florida voters was conducted Oct. 9-10. It is important to remember that subsets carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. The data was weighted by ethnicity, age, education, party affiliation, region and gender, based on 2016 Census Voting and Registration modeling. Data was collected using both an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines and cell phones provided by Aristotle Inc. and an online panel provided by Dynata. The polling results and full cross-tabulations can be viewed here.