Biden leads Trump by double digits in 2020 match-up in New Jersey

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ -- Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 54% of registered voters in New Jersey agree that the state should replace its July primary election – usually an in-person endeavor – entirely with voting by mail, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Forty-two percent, on the other hand, believe the state should not cancel in-person voting. Opinions are starkly divided by partisanship: 70% of Democrats and 56% of independents support voting by mail, while 72% of Republicans oppose it.
“While we have seen bipartisan agreement on many aspects of the coronavirus pandemic, how to move forward with voting in the midst of the outbreak is not one of them,” said Ashley Koning, assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “Voting by mail – always a politically charged topic – has become one of the most polarizing issues at the intersection of politics and COVID-19, pitting the health and safety of poll workers and voters against questions of security and accuracy of voting by mail.”

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However New Jerseyans may vote in the upcoming primary, almost all are unaware that Gov. Murphy in April changed its date. Just 6% of voters know the election will now be held on July 7, while another 10% say “sometime in July.” Almost a quarter think the election will still be held in June. Another quarter believe the election takes place during another month, and more than two-thirds simply say they are unsure of when it is.
Nevertheless, most voters say they will definitely (53%) or probably (26%) vote in the July primary.

“Primary elections traditionally have notoriously low turnout – typically in the single or low double digits – so do not expect an overwhelming turnout just because voters say they will show up,” said Koning. “2019’s primary did see a sizeable boost in turnout, however, and this was due in part to easing restrictions on voting by mail. Who’s at the top of the ballot, how people are able to vote, and the status of the pandemic in July will all affect turnout.”
Looking ahead to 2020, former Vice President and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden dominates among New Jersey voters in a head-to-head match-up against Donald Trump – 56% to 33%. Yet Biden’s favorability rating is somewhat mixed among voters: 45% are favorable, 37% are unfavorable, and 18% are unsure. Trump’s favorability and overall job approval ratings continue to be stagnant in New Jersey – 31% favorable to 59% unfavorable and 37% approve to 63% disapprove.
“Partisans take familiar sides with these 2020 candidates, while those politically in the middle are more torn,” noted Koning. “While independents go for Biden in a head-to-head with Trump by double digits, their personal impressions of the two men are similar. Independents give both Biden and Trump net negative ratings when it comes to favorability, with the former garnering more uncertainty and the latter slightly more unfavorable impressions.”

Even during these times, most New Jersey voters have an interest in politics right now. Forty-three percent say they have a great deal of interest, and another 35% have a fair amount. This is one area where partisans of all stripes agree.
Results are from a statewide poll of 1,502 adults contacted by live callers on landlines and cell phones from April 22 – May 2. The full New Jersey adult sample has a margin of error of +/-2.9 percentage points, and the full registered voter subsample of 1,364 self-identified registered voters has a margin of error of +/-3.0 percentage points; the subsample of 698 self-identified registered voters specifically asked about the elections has a margin of error of +/-4.2 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

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Home of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, ECPIP was established in 1971 and is the oldest and one of the most respected university-based state survey research centers in the United States. Now in its 48th year and with the publication of over 200 polls, ECPIP’s mission is to provide scientifically sound, non-partisan information about public opinion. To read more about ECPIP and view all of our press releases, published research, and data archive, please visit our website: You can also visit our Facebook and Twitter.

The Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling is a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. The Eagleton Institute studies how American politics and government work and change, analyzes how the democracy might improve, and promotes political participation and civic engagement. The Institute explores state and national politics through research, education, and public service, linking the study of politics with its day-to-day practice. To learn more about Eagleton programs and expertise, visit