Half of voters expect voting to be difficult in November as Trump ramps up attacks on mail-in voting

A new poll from Pew Research Center finds that 49% of registered voters expect voting in the November elections to be difficult, a vast increase from the midterm elections two years ago as President Donald Trump attacks mail-in voting.

The poll was conducted while Trump was criticizing mail-in voting but before he said on Thursday that he opposes funding for the US Postal Service because he doesn’t want to see it used for mail-in voting in November. Trump’s attacks on mail-in voting and USPS are being slammed as an attempt to manipulate the system for political gain, as he could benefit from voter suppression among communities who vote by mail.

The Pew poll is a sign that voters are adjusting their expectations in the face of those attacks and anticipation of difficulties with a system adjusting to the coronavirus pandemic. It shows 50% of voters expect voting in November to be easy. That’s a huge change from 2018, when 85% said they expected voting to be easy and 15% said difficult.

Significantly more voters who plan to vote for former Vice President Joe Biden in November expect voting to be difficult (60%) than those who plan to support Trump (35%). In 2018, there was a much smaller partisan divide, with a majority who planned to support a Republican House candidate expecting it to be easy (90%) as well as a majority who planned to support the Democratic candidate (83%).

Voters also express that the stakes are extremely high for this election, with 83% saying that “it really matters who wins the presidential election,” and 16% who think that “things will be pretty much the same regardless of who is elected.” The number of voters who think it really matters is the largest share to say so since Pew started asking the question in 2000.

A large share of voters said the major party candidates take different positions on the issues (86%), while only 9% think their positions are similar. The share who view their positions as different is significantly higher than in previous election years between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney (75%), Obama and John McCain (75%), George W. Bush and John Kerry (68%) or Bush and Al Gore (60%). Pew did not ask this question about Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016.

More registered voters now say they are satisfied with the candidates for president this year (48%) than felt that way in late August of 2016 (32%), but satisfaction was higher in presidential elections from 2000 through 2012.

Biden supporters are much more likely to express anger if Trump is reelected (61% said they’d be angry, 37% disappointed) than Trump supporters if Biden is elected (37% angry, 59% disappointed).

On the other side, 30% of Trump supporters said they’ll be excited if he’s reelected, while 16% of Biden supporters said the same of their candidate.

The Pew Research Center released two polls:

The first was conducted online July 27-August 2 among a random sample of 11,001 adults, including 9,114 registered voters. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 1.5 percentage points for both groups.

The second was conducted by phone July 23-August 4 among a random sample of 1,750 adults, including 1,455 registered voters. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points for all adults and 3.0 for registered voters.