Voter excitement for 2020 is on par with the days before the 2016 vote

Americans won’t go to the polls to choose who they want to be president for about 18 months. But bipartisan enthusiasm for the 2020 vote is so high that it’s comparable to the days before the last time they cast a presidential ballot.

In a new poll by Fox News released Thursday, more than half of voters said they were extremely interested in the 2020 presidential election (52%). That’s about equivalent to the 54% who said the same thing in the final days of the 2016 campaign.

Election excitement was strong in both parties, with 57% of Republicans and 56% of Democrats who expressed strong interest.

The 54% who said they were extremely interested in the election in 2016 was the highest percentage who had ever said so since Fox began tracking the question in 2011. CNN’s March survey found enthusiasm among registered voters above 2016 enthusiasm and about on par with the level seen in the final days of the 2008 campaign.

It’s hard to say, at this point in the campaign’s early days, what this means for the 2020 presidential race. Despite the level of voter interest in 2016, the turnout in that election was similar to 2012 and lower than in 2008. While this poll may not predict exactly how many people will vote, it does show that a huge amount are paying attention.

While the Fox poll didn’t delve deep into the horse race rankings, it measured a more unique metric: how satisfied voters would be if certain candidates ended up being the 2020 Democratic nominee.

Among those who are likely to vote in the Democratic primary or caucus in their state, 78% said they would be satisfied if former Vice President Joe Biden were the nominee, followed by 75% who said the same of Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, and 61% for both Sens. Kamala Harris, of California, and Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts.

Dissatisfaction was highest for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, of New York, and Warren (23% and 22% respectively).

Among the Democratic primary voters who are extremely interested in the 2020 election, the percent who would be satisfied with Harris as a nominee rises from 61% to 70% and Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s support rises from 43% to 50%.

For likely Republican primary voters, 88% said they would be satisfied is President Donald Trump were their nominee and 11% reported they’d be dissatisfied. Only 12% said they’d be satisfied with former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who officially declared his run for president this week.

Fox also found 45% of voters who approved of Trump’s job as president and 51% disapproved, steady from their March poll.

With Biden expected to jump into the race next week, after months of publicly teasing a run for the White House, the poll found about two in 10 of all registered voters and 14% of Democratic women said they were extremely or very concerned about criticism of Biden making women uncomfortable when he “hugged them or smelled their hair.” Women weren’t more worried about Biden’s actions than men — 18% of women voters said they were concerned and 20% of men said the same.

The Fox News poll was conducted April 14-16, 2019 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw <>& Company (R) and includes interviews with 1,005 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide who spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters, and five points for both the Democratic (413) and Republican primary voter samples (374)./p