Trump and Biden supporters differ over importance of the economy, health care – and particularly the coronavirus

Voters in the United States continue to rate the economy, health care and Supreme Court appointments as very important voting issues. But less than two weeks before Election Day, those who support Donald Trump and Joe Biden differ widely on the importance of several issues – and the gap over the importance of the coronavirus outbreak has widened considerably since August.

About three-quarters of registered voters (74%) say the economy is a very important issue to their vote in the presidential election, while majorities also rate health care (65%), Supreme Court appointments (63%) and the coronavirus outbreak (55%) as very important, according to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted Oct. 6-12 among 10,059 adults, including 8,972 registered voters.

While voters who support Trump (84%) are more likely than Biden supporters (66%) to rate the economy as very important, far more Biden supporters say health care is very important (82% vs. 44% of Trump supporters).

In order to understand the issues that are most important to Americans as Election Day nears, we surveyed 10,059 U.S. adults, including 8,972 registered voters, between Oct. 6-12, 2020. Everyone who took part is a member of Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology.

Here are the questions used for the report, along with responses, and its methodology.

Sharp decline in share of Trump backers who rate coronavirus as ‘very important’

Yet the widest differences are on the importance of the coronavirus outbreak. About eight-in-ten Biden supporters (82%) say the coronavirus will be very important to their vote, compared with just 24% of Trump supporters. Since August, the share of Trump supporters who view the coronavirus as very important has declined 15 percentage points. There has been no change among Biden supporters.

There has been far less change in views of the importance of other issues. About six-in-ten registered voters (63%) – including nearly equal shares of Biden (66%) and Trump supporters (64%) – say Supreme Court appointments will be very important to their vote. That is virtually unchanged from August (64%).

The new survey was conducted after President Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court and shortly before Barrett’s confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Voters’ views of the importance of the economy and health care have changed only modestly since August.

Sizable gender differences on the importance of health care, abortion

While men and women agree on the importance of the economy, Supreme Court appointments and foreign policy as priorities for their vote, women are much more likely than men to say abortion (51% vs. 36%) and health care (71% vs. 59%) are very important to their vote for president.

There also are modest differences on the importance of the coronavirus outbreak; 59% of women rate the coronavirus as a very important voting issue, compared with 51% of men.

The wide gender gap among registered voters on the importance of abortion is evident among both Trump and Biden supporters. Among Trump supporters, 54% of women and 41% of men consider abortion a very important voting issue. Among Biden supporters, women also are more likely than men to view this issue as very important (50% of women, 31% of men).

Large shares of both women (85%) and men (79%) who support Biden view health care as a very important issue. Among Trump supporters, more women (51%) than men (37%) say health care is very important.

There also are sizable differences in priorities among registered voters of different racial and ethnic groups.

Wide racial and ethnic divides on importance of health care, coronavirus

Over eight-in-ten Black registered voters (82%) and a smaller majority of Hispanic voters (63%) say the coronavirus outbreak is a very important issue in deciding who they are voting for this election. In contrast, only about half of White voters (49%) say the coronavirus outbreak is important to their vote choice. Previous surveys have shown that the coronavirus outbreak has negatively affected Black and Hispanic people more than White people in the United States.

There is a similar divide on the importance of health care in voters’ decisions: Black (86%) and Hispanic (70%) voters are more likely than White voters (61%) to say it is a very important issue for their vote.

Among Biden supporters, Black (82%) and Hispanic (77%) voters are far more likely than their White counterparts (60%) to say the economy is an important issue for their vote. On the other hand, White Biden supporters (70%) are more likely than Black (61%) and Hispanic (60%) supporters to say Supreme Court appointments are very important to their vote choice.

Note: Here are the questions used for the report, along with responses, and its methodology. For full details on this question, see our interactive data tool.

Amina Dunn  is a research analyst focusing on U.S. politics and policy at Pew Research Center.