President Trump mocked Joe Biden for his masks sporting at a marketing campaign rally final week, saying, “Did you ever see a person who likes a masks as a lot as him?”

Polling has proven that the general public overwhelmingly backs masks necessities, which Mr. Biden has lengthy supported. President Trump, however, has ridiculed masks sporting at instances — though he did at one level name it patriotic — and he has rejected another insurance policies that many Individuals help to struggle the coronavirus.

So that you would possibly anticipate voters to punish him on Election Day.

However political science research has discovered that folks don’t all the time vote in a means that displays their coverage preferences. A principal impediment is lack of information. In surveys, voters typically can’t distinguish presidential candidates’ stances even on essential problems with the day.

To look at whether or not voters would punish Mr. Trump for views associated to the virus, we performed a survey of three,877 Individuals. As different surveys have proven, we discovered robust help for measures to struggle the coronavirus. Seventy % of individuals need the federal government to do extra to guard Individuals from the virus (8 % need it to do much less). Sixty-five % need the federal authorities to do extra to check for the coronavirus (10 % need it to do much less).

Sixty-nine % agree (and 12 % disagree) with requiring masks in public. Forty-nine % agree (and 23 % disagree) with closing nonessential companies to gradual the unfold of the virus. Moreover, 51 % agree (and 20 % disagree) that the US must be a part of the World Well being Group (WHO). Mr. Trump has disagreed with every of those positions.

And but it’s removed from clear that he’s shedding substantial help due to Individuals’ attitudes towards the virus. Though Mr. Biden is forward amongst Individuals who help necessary masking in public, Mr. Trump nonetheless will get the help of 32 % of voters who help masks necessities. He additionally will get 39 % of help amongst voters with shut members of the family or pals who’ve died from the virus.

Why? Voters seem to not know Mr. Trump’s and Biden’s stances. Solely 40 % place Mr. Biden as extra supportive than Mr. Trump on masks, and solely 41 % do the identical on closing companies. Solely 47 % place Mr. Biden as extra supportive of the WHO. These outcomes are in step with decades of research exhibiting {that a} appreciable share of the general public doesn’t know the positions of the events and presidential candidates, even on probably the most salient points. In contrast, amongst respondents who’re extremely educated concerning the presidential candidates on different points, greater than 90 % accurately place them on all three coronavirus questions.

It’s not simply that folks don’t know. When folks don’t have a way for occasion or candidate platforms, they have an inclination to imagine that their most well-liked occasion or candidate agrees with them on the problems. This phenomenon, which political scientists name projection, seems to be working right here. Individuals’s perceptions seem strongly influenced by which candidate they like.

Strikingly, a majority (59 %) of Trump voters help requiring masks (solely 18 % are opposed), and 81 % of Trump voters who help necessary masking suppose Mr. Trump does as effectively.

Equally, 39 % of Trump voters help closing nonessential companies (37 % are opposed), and 75 % of Trump supporters who wish to shut companies imagine that the president does as effectively. Lastly, 34 % of Trump voters help WHO membership (39 % are opposed), and 70 % of Trump supporters who help WHO membership imagine Mr. Trump helps it.

We see related patterns of perceptions about Mr. Biden amongst his supporters. Biden voters strongly help masks necessities, the closing of nonessential companies, and WHO membership. Biden voters precisely understand Mr. Biden as supporting these insurance policies, although this will partly mirror projection.

Though the pandemic is among the largest crises the US has confronted in latest a long time, it’s a extra necessary situation for some than for others. Maybe surprisingly, information of Mr. Trump’s positions on the virus declines amongst these with a detailed buddy or member of the family who died of the coronavirus. Sixty-eight % of Trump voters who know somebody who died (in contrast with 56 % amongst those that don’t) imagine that Mr. Trump helps masks necessities in public.

Fifty-eight % of Trump supporters who know somebody who died from the virus imagine that Mr. Trump helps closing nonessential companies (in contrast with 31 % of those that don’t). Fifty-two % of Trump supporters who know somebody who died suppose Mr. Trump helps WHO membership (in contrast with 30 % of those that don’t).

You would possibly suppose that the essential significance of a difficulty would enhance folks’s capacity to vote on the premise of that situation. Even in instances like these, nevertheless, the general public’s consideration to politics stays restricted — politics continues to be “a sideshow in the great circus of life.” Missing information, the significance might merely be making them mission their place much more onto their occasion’s candidate.

Since voters more and more take note of the presidential race as Election Day approaches, Mr. Trump has cause to fret that voters will study extra about his stances.

Eric Guntermann is a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow within the Charles and Louise Travers Division of Political Science on the College of California, Berkeley. You’ll be able to observe him on Twitter at @ericguntermann. Gabriel Lenz is a Professor within the Charles and Louise Travers Division of Political Science on the College of California, Berkeley. You’ll be able to observe him on Twitter at @GabeLenz. Alexander Agadjanian is a political science Ph.D. pupil on the College of California, Berkeley. You’ll be able to observe him on Twitter at @A_agadjanian.

The survey was performed with the opt-in on-line survey supplier Lucid from Aug. 19-22. The pattern was weighted to mirror distributions of age, gender, race, Hispanic identification and schooling from the Census Bureau.


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