CNBC Publishes Latest “States of Play” Poll


CNBC and Change Research have released the results of their latest joint “States of Play” poll, conducted between August 21st and August 23rd, surveying 2,362 likely voters.

Among likely battleground voters (Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin), very serious concerns about COVID-19 are on the decline (45% versus the previous 49%) while approval of Trump’s handling of COVID-19 rose 3 points to 47% , the highest it has been since mid-May (49%), and his overall job performance rating rose 2 points to 48%. Still, 52% of likely battleground voters say Biden and Democrats would do a better job handling COVID-19.

Meanwhile, likely voters in the battleground states are starting to feel better about the economy as well as their safety. Over the past two weeks, there has been a noticeable decrease (6%) in pessimism about the U.S. economy and unemployment rate with shifts coming primarily from Arizona, Florida and Wisconsin.

Changes among Republicans were the most significant and the assessment from Democrats and independents also improved. However, 60% of likely battleground voters still rate the economy and U.S. job market negatively (60% and 59%, respectively).

Additionally, 51% of likely battleground voters are still pessimistic about the U.S. economy and 56% are still pessimistic about the unemployment rate in the year ahead.

CNBC and Change Research polled over 4,900 likely general election voters from the six previously noted battleground states, as well as over 2,300 likely general election voters nationally, to determine economic sentiment amongst voters.

Key Findings

A 64% majority of likely national voters and 57% of likely battleground voters report having watched the DNC last week, with 23% nationally and 22% in the battleground saying they watched the entire convention.

Of those who watched the DNC, 71% of likely battleground voters and 70% likely national voters had a positive reaction to Joe Biden’s speech and 60% of likely battleground voters and 56% likely national voters had a very positive reaction.

When voters were asked about their impression of Biden, there was consensus around two attributes—75% of likely voters nationally and 73% of likely battleground voters believe that Biden is ‘a typical politician’ and two-thirds nationally and 62% in the battleground believe that Biden is ‘experienced.’

Biden saw a small post-convention bump among likely voters nationally (+6 to +8), though still within the margin of error, and there was not a statistically significant shift in the 6-state battleground where Biden leads by 3 points overall.

Opinions of Kamala Harris are mixed with likely battleground voters (+4 net unfavourable), however, those numbers rise among women (+9 net favourable) and Black voters (+50 net favourable).

As a result of changes to the USPS, including the removal of mail sorting machines and mailboxes, 33% of likely battleground voters intend to vote by mail, compared to 38% from the last survey.

Democrats have shifted the most over the past two weeks with 57% of likely battleground voters saying they intend to vote by mail, which was down 7 points since the last survey.

The USPS is still a very popular American institution with opinions being +53 net favourable in the battleground, with Democrats, independents, and Republicans all net favourable.

On the issue of school re-openings, 40% of likely battleground voters and 36% of likely national voters say it is safe for students to return to school. The numbers are slightly lower for daycare with 38% of likely battleground voters and 33% of likely national voters saying it is safe for children to attend.

Parents are more likely to believe that it is safe for children to attend classes (43%) and daycare (42%) than all voters (36% and 33%, respectively), but they are still fairly divided.

43% of K-12 parents and college parents think it is safe for students to return to school, while 46% of K-12 parents and 44% of college parents think it is unsafe.

There is also a big divide between the parents of students in college and current college students nationally. While less than half (43%) of parents say it is safe for their college-aged children to return to school, 74% of current college students say letting students return to school is not safe.


Between August 21-23, 2020, Change Research surveyed 2,362 likely general election voters nationally and 4,904 likely general election voters in the battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The margin of error as traditionally calculated among the national sample is ±2.02% and among the battleground sample is ±1.4%.

Change Research reaches voters via targeted online ads that point people to an online survey instrument. Its Dynamic Online Sampling establishes and continuously rebalances advertising targets across region, age, gender, race, and partisanship to dynamically deliver large samples that accurately reflect the demographics of a population.

In the national survey and the survey of battleground states, post-stratification was done on gender, age, region, education, race, and 2016 presidential vote.

For additional methodological information, visit