The presidential race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump has tightened after this week’s Republican National Convention, according to a new Yahoo News-YouGov poll, with Biden’s lead shrinking to 6 points — his smallest margin in nearly two months.
The convention appears to have boosted perceptions of Trump’s “strength” and convinced a small number of former Biden supporters to move toward the president. But the unrest in Kenosha, Wis., following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a major talking point at the RNC, has not had a clear impact on voters’ choices — at least not yet.
For its latest Yahoo News survey, which was conducted from Aug. 27 to Aug. 28, YouGov recontacted respondents who participated in Yahoo News-YouGov poll one month earlier to gauge how the RNC and other events have affected their views.
The poll taken at the end of July showed Biden with a lead of a little less than 9 percentage points. In the new survey, those same registered voters give Biden an edge of just over 6 points (47 percent to 41 percent).
That shift — about two and a half percent overall — is the result of roughly 1 percent of registered voters switching from Biden to Trump and a smaller number who previously said they would not vote now saying they will vote for Trump.
These small changes were enough to transform a big Biden lead into a moderate Biden lead.
The new Yahoo News-YouGov poll shows that nearly every voter in America has made up his or her mind, with 96 percent Biden and Trump supporters now saying they have decided how they will vote — up 2 percent from when the same voters were surveyed in late July. Only 8 percent remain undecided. There was no change in Congressional voting intention over the same period: 49 percent of registered voters say they will vote Democratic and 38 percent say they will vote Republican.
According to the poll, 62 percent of Republicans and only 34 percent of Democrats say they watched the RNC — meaning that 42 percent of registered voters (and 51 percent of all adults) did not watch either convention. Just a third of the public (32 percent) watched both conventions. Fifty-nine percent of Democrats and 33 percent of Republicans say they watched the DNC.
So why did a small number of voters shift toward Trump over the last month?
The most pronounced change involved perceptions of the president’s “strength.” Right before the RNC, 33 percent of Americans said Trump possessed this quality; right after, that number increased to 38 percent. Over the last month, the numbers of Americans saying Trump “cares a lot about people like you” rose from 19 percent to 22 percent, while the percentage saying they like him “a lot” or “somewhat” rose from 24 percent to 28 percent. It’s possible that a handful of voters who now consider Trump stronger and more likeable than before have decided to vote for him as a result.
Since late July Trump’s job approval on COVID-19 has also increased slightly — from 38 percent to 40 percent — as the rate of growth in cases and daily death figures have been gradually declining. (Deaths now total over 180,000 and are growing at around 1,000 a day.)
Yet beyond these modest changes, the poll does not show voters gravitating toward Trump in search of “law and order” at a time of protest and civil unrest.
It’s not that Americans are unconcerned about the issue. In July, 59 percent said they were either “very” or “somewhat worried” about “a breakdown of law and order in American cities”; exactly 59 percent say the same now, one month later. They are evenly divided over whether systemic racism (49 percent) or a breakdown of law and order (51 percent) is the bigger problem.
The issue for Trump is that voters remain unconvinced he will improve the situation. If the goal of the RNC was to tar Biden as a radical who will endanger Americans’ safety, it was not a success. One month ago, 37 percent of the public thought America would become more safe if Biden were elected; 35 percent said the country would become less safe. After both conventions, those numbers were 39 percent to 38 percent — no real…