Would anyone go to a political convention?

June 11, 2020, 4:45 PM GMT+0

Americans who say they will vote to re-elect President Donald Trump are more than twice as interested in person-to-person campaign contact than the supporters of Democrat challenger Joe Biden, according to the latest Economist/YouGov Poll.

But the survey this week finds many Republicans are willing to forego a large scale, jam-packed convention for the sake of social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

A majority (59%) of those currently supporting Trump say they would attend a rally in their community if the president held one, while one four Biden voters say they would attend a Biden rally in their community.

By two to one (58% to 27%), Republicans want the candidates to hold regular, in-person campaign events and rallies. By 70 percent to 14 percent, or five to one, Democrats don’t. Some of this may indicate intensity of support, but some also may have to do with concern (or lack of concern) about keeping social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. Seven in 10 Democrats are worried about contracting COVID-19 compared with four in 10 Republicans, according to the poll.

Worry about the coronavirus has lessened among all groups in the last few weeks, though a majority overall remains concerned.

The difficulty of social distancing at a convention isn’t a concern for the 60% of Republicans who believe social distancing will end by September 1, just after the scheduled August conventions. Consequently, they believe the August conventions can be held safely; by more than five to one Democrats disagree.

But Republicans are split on the specific case of North Carolina. As many want the RNC to be held somewhere with social distancing as want it held where social distancing rules will not be enforced.

Republicans still support social distancing rules in principle. By nearly two to one, 56 percent to 31 percent, they agree that the parties should require social distancing at the national conventions this year. By 47 percent to 35 percent, they don’t believe it is necessary to have a lot of people attend a convention. Republicans, like the rest of the public, would approve of holding the conventions virtually this year.

There is even more support on all these questions from Democrats and from the public at large. 85% of Democrats would require social distancing at conventions this year, and 71% believe it isn’t necessary to have a lot of people attending such an event.

While virtual conventions would be fine for most Americans, cancelling the two party events entirely would not be, even with the threat of COVID-19. The country is evenly divided about cancelling the conventions: 38 percent say the conventions should be held, and 34% favor cancelling them. There is a huge party split on this: by nearly three to one (60% to 23%) Republicans would hold the conventions; by more than two to one (48% to 22%), Democrats would cancel them.

This year, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say they plan to watch at least some of their party’s convention, even though many of them would be willing to cancel the meetings (57% of Democrats say they will watch at least some of the DNC; 46 percent of Republicans will watch at least some of the GOP meeting).

See the toplines and crosstabs from this week's The Economist/YouGov poll.

Image: Getty