Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has made a major push to court voters who think of themselves as Republicans but are disillusioned with President Trump’s bombastic style.
Polling shows that the efforts could be working, with anti-Trump Republicans helping the Democratic presidential nominee keep a polling lead.
An Oct. 15-17 national poll conducted by Scott Rasmussen for Political IQ found that 36% of likely voters prefer a candidate who supports Trump-style policies, and logically, nearly all of those voters said that they will support the president in this year’s election.
But another 12% of voters said that they would prefer a more traditional Republican — and about a third of those say that they are voting for Biden.
“Joe Biden leading by eight points. That margin is almost entirely accounted for by these Never Trump Republicans,” Political IQ’s poll report said.
Starting around August, Biden’s campaign announced endorsements from a number of former Republican elected officials.
Former Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich, along with a few other Republican figures, gave a speech at the virtual Democratic National Convention in support of the Biden-Harris ticket, explaining that “these are not normal times.”
Cindy McCain, the widow of Arizona Sen. John McCain, has joined Biden on the campaign trail and is featured in television advertisements.
“They’d fight like hell on the floor, and then, they’d go eat lunch together because they always put their friendship and their country first,” McCain said of her husband and Biden in the ad. “Now, more than ever, we need a president who will put service before self.”
Former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake is also among those who endorsed Biden.
Some critics dismiss the endorsements as unrepresentative of the electorate. They see the former officials and the Lincoln Project, a PAC run by former Republican operatives which supports Democrats and is known for making provocative videos, as catering more to liberal Washington and political elites rather than voters who will decide the election.
But there is some reason to think that swing-state voters share some of the same sentiments as the ex-officials.
An Oct. 7 Pennsylvania Quinnipiac poll found that 7% of self-identified Republicans said that they are supporting Biden. That’s a notable difference from a 2016 Nov. 2 Monmouth poll of Pennsylvania voters, which found Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton with 2% support from self-identified Republicans.
Jacob Monty, a former Hispanic Advisory Council member for Trump’s 2016 campaign who resigned before the election that year, explained his support for Biden in a Texas Democratic Party event. While Clinton did not earn his support in 2016, Biden has.
“This is the first time I’ve voted for a Democrat at the top of the ticket. But I think it’s not enough to sound off against the president, we need to actually vote for Joe Biden,” Monty said. “Don’t abandon your values, just abandon Donald Trump at the top of the ticket.”
An Oct. 13-16 CBS battleground tracker poll in Arizona suggested that Republicans in the state are persuadable. Of those Republicans who did not say they are supporting Biden and have not yet voted, 10% said that they might or would consider voting for the Democratic presidential nominee.
Prior polling, however, warns that Democrats may not be able to count on Republican converts to push them over the edge on Election Day.
In 2016, a University of North Florida poll in mid-October found that Clinton had 13% support from Republican voters —more than what Biden has in the latest University of North Florida poll, 7% Republican support.
But the lack of prominent third-party candidates this year siphoning away votes is making the breakdown of support less complicated, and Democrats are much more united in their support of the Democratic presidential nominee. While 89% of Democrats in this year’s Florida survey say that they support Biden, only 77% of Democrats said the same about Clinton at this point in 2016.