New Yahoo News/YouGov poll finds no convention 'bounce' for Biden — but he still leads Trump by 11

Andrew Romano
·West Coast Correspondent
·4 mins read

Last week’s Democratic National Convention did not give Joe Biden even the modest polling “bounce” that some previous nominees have enjoyed, according to the new Yahoo News/YouGov poll.

Yet the virtual, COVID-era event, which most viewers thought went better than expected, did boost Biden’s favorability rating and solidify his support, preserving his 11-point lead over President Trump heading into this week’s Republican National Convention.

For its latest Yahoo News survey, which was conducted from Aug. 21 to Aug. 23, YouGov recontacted respondents who participated in the previous week’s pre-convention poll to gauge how the DNC affected their views.

The head-to-head numbers between Biden and Trump were essentially unchanged, with Biden now ahead 50 percent to 39 percent among registered voters (after leading last week 49 percent to 38 percent).

Since 1968, candidates’ vote shares in national polls have increased by an average of 5 percentage points after conventions. In recent years, polarization has been shrinking those bounces.

Still, this convention — a four-night attack on Trump’s presidency and a paean to Biden’s “decency” — appears to have bolstered the Democratic nominee in other ways. A majority of registered voters (52 percent) now view him favorably, up 3 points from last week. Among independents, Biden’s favorability ticked up 4 points, to 42 percent; among young voters and Latinos, key Democratic constituencies who have been skeptical of the 77-year-old former vice president, it increased by 8 points and 10 points, respectively.

All told, only 3 percent of Biden voters now say “there is a chance I will change my mind between now and the election,” down from 5 percent in the previous poll. Meanwhile, the percentage of Biden voters who say they will be casting their votes “for Biden,” rather than “against Trump,” rose from 51 percent pre-convention to 54 percent post-convention. A full 69 percent of Democrats say the event left them more excited about voting for their party’s nominee. No one polled said the convention made them less excited.

In fact, a plurality of those who watched the DNC (48 percent) say it made them more likely to vote for Biden, versus 15 percent who say “less likely” and 37 percent who say “about the same.”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, speaks during the Democratic National Convention at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del. on Thursday. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, speaks during the Democratic National Convention at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del. on Thursday. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fifty-two percent of viewers who went into the convention supporting Biden say the event made them more likely to vote for him — not a huge surprise. Yet 18 percent of viewers who went into the convention supporting Trump also came out of it saying they are now more likely to support the Democrat. That translates into 4 percent of Trump supporters overall (since only 24 percent of Trump supporters watched the convention).

One example of how the DNC shifted views of Biden: In late July, registered voters were 8 percent more likely to disagree (48 percent) than agree (40 percent) with the statement that “the only thing Joe Biden cares about is himself.” Now that gap has grown to 20 percentage points (53 percent disagree, 33 percent agree). Views of Trump on this question are essentially unchanged, with 58 percent of voters agreeing that the only thing the president cares about is himself and just 37 percent disagreeing.

Television viewership for the first virtual Democratic convention was down by 18 percent from 2016, even as increased online streaming made up at least some of the difference. Yet glitches were few and far between, and those who did watch — 53 percent of Democrats, 26 percent of independents and 25 percent of Republicans, according to the survey — mostly deemed the event a success. Nearly two-thirds of viewers (64 percent) rated the convention “excellent” or “good.” By a 46 percent to 27 percent margin, viewers preferred this year’s virtual format to a normal in-person convention; among Democratic viewers, that gap was even wider (53 percent to 17 percent).

Ultimately, a majority of viewers (55 percent) thought the convention went better than expected, with only 16 percent saying it went worse. Even Republicans agreed, 38 percent to 28 percent.

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The Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,145 U.S. adult residents interviewed online Aug. 21-23, 2020. The respondents all participated in a prior Yahoo News survey conducted Aug. 14-15, 2020, and were contacted to participate. Of the 1,529 adults in the Aug. 14-15 survey, 1,145 responded to this survey — a recontact rate of 74.9 percent. Respondents were re-interviewed from the previous nationally representative survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, geographic region, news interest, 2016 presidential vote and registration status, and baseline vote intention of the first wave. The margin of error is approximately 4 percent.

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