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15 min read

    15 min read

    How do rideshare drivers feel about the upcoming presidential election? We conducted an online survey of 1,249 rideshare drivers about the 2020 presidential election between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, which candidate they would be supporting and why, and how they think the pandemic response is going. Here’s what they had to say.

    Quotes have been lightly edited for clarity.

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    Looking for more insight into how Uber and Lyft drivers think? Check out our Uber driver survey

    presidential survey 2020 results“This Election Frightens Me”: Battleground States are Voting for Biden

    Fifty-one percent of drivers in battleground states (considered by the New York Times to be Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania) are voting for Biden, with 46% saying they will vote for Trump and 3% saying they didn’t know or wouldn’t be voting.

    This respondent from Michigan stated, “Trump will side with greedy big business who don’t really care about gig workers. Not sure about Biden but chances seem to be better with him at least for acknowledgment and possible action towards improving driver pay.”

    One driver from Pennsylvania said this of why he’s voting for Trump this election: “I feel Trump will listen to what we have to say. Not say he will while totally ignoring us. If Uber/Lyft wants to help us, then Trump’s the candidate that’ll listen.”

    One Minnesota voter stated “all politicians are bad for our country” but also reported they would be voting for Biden.

    And, voting for another candidate is this rideshare driver from Michigan: “Jo Jorgensen, the Libertarian candidate will open the economy the best…”

    According to media reports, this close call in battleground states (particularly states hit hard by the crash in manufacturing over the last 40 years) between President Trump and former Vice President Biden is not surprising. Remember 2016, when political pundits were closely watching these states? Not much has changed.

    We dug into the numbers to see if respondents were switching en masse – but found that only 1% of drivers who had voted for Trump in 2016 were switching their vote to Biden in 2020. If anything, it seems like those who voted Democrat or Republican in 2016 are sticking with their chosen parties.

    According to one Pennsylvania driver who voted for Trump in 2016 and plans to vote for him again, “I think Trump is more in touch with the working class.”

    The only movement one way or the other respondents showed in these battleground states was among undecided voters or those who didn’t vote in 2016 – 7% of undecided voters/didn’t vote in 2016 gig workers said they would be voting for Biden this year. 3% of the undecided or non-voters in 2016 said they would be voting for Trump in 2020.

    According to one Michigan respondent, who didn’t vote in 2016 but plans on voting for Biden in 2020, their reasoning came down to this: “This election frightens me. It feels like the US is on a precipice. Either we are going to take steps to protect our democracy or we’re going to be on the revolution-dictatorship-war carousel like nations who failed to do so before us.”

    Only 3% of Respondents Say They Are Switching Their Vote from Trump to Biden

    According to our survey, any theories of voters switching en masse from President Trump to former Vice President Biden can’t be proven. Only 3% of rideshare drivers who said they voted for Trump in 2016 reported planning to switch their vote to Biden – in all 50 states.

    According to a respondent in Indiana who voted for Trump in 2016 and plans to vote for him in 2020, “President Trump uses a business mindset that puts Americans first.”

    One former Trump supporter in Colorado, who said they would be switching their vote to Biden in 2020, had this to say about the switch: “Yes, I believe both candidates have shortcomings I’m essentially a Republican but have gravitated more to the middle left primarily due to the Income gap between the haves and the have nots… [Trump’s] handling of the Pandemic has been criminal and I think that if it was Biden and the Democrats this Pandemic would have been handled differently if they had been given a chance.”

    Only 2% of respondents said they would be switching from voting Democrat in 2016 (drivers  reported voting for Clinton) to voting Republican (for Trump) in 2020.

    According to a voter in California who reported voting for Clinton in 2016 but will be voting for Trump in 2016: “No one understands economics like Trump…A lot of people who you’d never think are voting for going to vote for Trump 2020.”

    49% of All Respondents Said Trump’s Handling of COVID-19 is ‘Bad’ or ‘Awful’ – But Only 1% of Trump Supporters Agree

    49% of drivers rated Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 response and recession ‘bad’ or ‘awful’. However, only 1% of Trump supporters rated his handling of COVID and the recession as ‘bad’ or ‘awful.’

    One Indiana respondent, who rated Trump’s response to COVID and the recession as ‘awful’ had this to say about their choice to vote for Trump in 2020: “Trump is a disposable human being, but I’m voting for him because I believe in many of the issues that are important to me [and] his self interests align with what will be best for the country.”

    According to a Trump supporter in Massachusetts who rated the president’s handling of COVID as ‘Awful’: “I do believe the Democrats in Congress have done more for gig workers as it relates to COVID and the challenges rideshare drivers face during the pandemic.”

    One voter in Tennessee who stated they would be voting for Biden and rated Trump’s handling of COVID as ‘awful’ had this to say: “Gig workers did receive some economic relief through the pandemic, but any elected official would have determined that to be necessary. I give NO CREDIT to Trump for making that happen.”

    Among rideshare drivers who rated President Trump’s response to COVID as fantastic, very few could specifically cite what the president did to handle the pandemic in a ‘fantastic’ way, but one respondent in Florida had this to say: “Trump has already rescued the economy.  We just need to elect the right people to Congress that will help or at least stay out of the way.”

    “High Taxes, High Crime and Corruption”: 28% of California Drivers Plan on Switching to Vote for Trump (from Clinton) in 2020

    Although only 2% of respondents total said they would switch their vote from Democrat (Clinton in 2016) to Republican (Trump in 2016 and 2020), 28% of those respondents live in California.

    According to one California gig worker who said they would be switching to Trump in 2020, the issue comes down to taxes: “After being a native Californian in a fifth generation one I have seen my state literally take a nose dive into poverty high taxes, high crime and corruption and it’s not [Trump’s] fault it’s over decades of Democrats who have ruined California. There is no way I would vote for another Democrat again, why so I could further lose rights, independence and freedoms.”

    On the other side, of respondents who said they had voted for Trump in 2016 but are switching to Biden in 2020, 30% of those drivers reported living in California, followed in second place by 12% of Illinois respondents.

    How Are Voters in Swing States Voting?

    Arizona Voters: 61% Report Planning to Vote for President Trump

    Among Arizona rideshare drivers, 61% report they will vote for President Trump in 2020. Only 39% reported voting for Biden or ‘another candidate.’

    One Arizona respondent exemplified the traditional Arizonan ‘go it alone’ attitude, stating “As drivers we need to stand up for ourselves and not look to big corporations and the federal government to protect us or give us handouts. Government and publicly held corporations only have their bottom line or political interests in mind.”

    Another Arizona respondent who reported planning on voting for Biden in 2020 stated: “If there is a class of workers who have suffered the most while Trump and his cronies play political football, it is the gig workers.”

    Nevada Voters: 9% Report Not Planning to Vote in 2020

    For those rideshare drivers responding from Nevada, 40% plan on voting for Biden in 2020, while 34% plan to vote for President Trump. A surprisingly high, compared to the nationwide reported total of 3% ‘won’t be voting’, 9% will not be voting for this election and 6% are planning on voting for another candidate.

    One Trump supporter and voter from Nevada stated: “President Trump has done more for the American people and has accomplished more in the last 3.8 years than [Biden] has in 47 years.”

    On the other side, this Nevada Biden supporter said: “Trump will ALWAYS back big business. He has made his life’s work stepping on us little guys…”

    Iowa: All Respondents Reported Supporting Biden

    In Iowa, 100% of the respondents are voting for Biden. Here’s what one had to say: “[Trump] needs to go, he’s ruining this country…”

    Texas Voters: 6% Planning on Voting Third-Party

    As far as Texas drivers go, 46% are planning on voting for Trump while 37% are for Biden. 6% are planning on voting for a third party candidate and 4% are not planning on voting during this election.

    This respondent who plans on voting for President Trump stated: “We aren’t electing a messiah, but the man right for the job who isn’t a politician… speaks his mind rather than lying to the people as to what they want to hear.”

    A Texan who is in favor of voting for Biden this year said: “Americans need to vote Trump out of office. Trump is detrimental to everyone in the entire world and the United States will be a much worse place if he is allowed to stay in office…”

    A Texas gig worker who is choosing not to vote this year acknowledged the importance of the election but stated: “It’s a very very historic election. I am not sure if it really matters who wins. What matters to me is what happens after the election. The potential for greater civil unrest, and then forceful reaction, seems to be very high.”

    Ohio Voters: 45% Report Planning to Vote for President Trump

    Among Ohio respondents, 45% are planning on re-electing President Trump, while 38% said they will vote for Biden. Drivers who will be voting third party make up 9% of the respondents from Ohio.

    This Ohio Trump supporter said: “Trump isn’t a politician and seems to know better how to accomplish things than a typical politician does.”

    A third party voter from Ohio stated: “I’m voting for Jo Jorgensen because she is the best option and hope for the future of this country! Stop suppressing voters by not saying her name or putting her as an option to vote!”

    This Biden supporter from Ohio stated: “We are dying out here, I pray someone helps us.”

    Georgia Voters: 42% Report Planning to Vote for Biden

    In Georgia, 42% of respondents are planning on voting for Biden for president this election. 34% of gig workers are planning on voting for Trump for re-election. 6% are voting third party and 4% are not voting this year.

    A Georgia Biden supporter stated: “A successful hard working gig worker is very dependent on people of all walks of life. This divisive talk and behavior by any leader, much less the POTUS is hurting everyone in this country in some form.”

    This Trump supporter from Georgia said: “Trump always shows everyone support… I trust in him to do the right thing by us drivers.”

    North Carolina Voters: Even Split on Trump vs Biden

    In North Carolina, of the respondents, 43% are planning on re-electing Trump while the same number (43%) are planning on voting in Biden. 9% will not be voting this season and 3% are planning on voting for a third-party candidate.

    A driver from North Carolina who is planning on voting for Trump stated: “Trump has had more concern for gig workers than any administration in the past, since gig-workers became known. Had he not been in office when the COVID epidemic hit, I believe we would have been left to fend for ourselves.”

    A Biden supporter from North Carolina said: “I believe that Biden will get the country out of this mess like Obama did in 2008.”

    A respondent who is not planning on voting this season and lives in North Carolina stated: “The election is a hoax.”

    The Big Question: Florida Voters Report an Even Split

    Many pundits are wondering how Florida is going to vote this year, but according to our Florida respondents, it’s a break even. Of rideshare drivers from Florida, the planned vote is split evenly between Trump and Biden at 47% apiece. 2% are planning on voting third party while only 1% of respondents from Florida are not voting this election season.

    This Floridian who is planning on voting for Trump said: “Trump already made the unemployment available to the independent contractor, this has allowed me to be safe during this pandemic (I’m in the high risk for COVID category).”

    A Biden supporter in Florida simply stated: “We need honesty and decency back in the White House.”

    And of course, we have the outlier Florida respondent who had this to say about voting third party: “I am worried a Covid 19 vaccine will contain nano chemicals connecting our brains to artificial intelligence, which will overpower our brains, essentially converting us into A I robots.”

    New Hampshire Voters: No Drivers Plan on Sitting This Election Out – Or Voting Third Party

    Respondents from New Hampshire are split 50/50 between voting for Biden or Trump this election season. No New Hampshire driver stated they would be voting third party or not voting at all.

    This Biden supporter is the only one from New Hampshire who made a comment concerning gig workers: “It doesn’t matter who is elected…Gig workers are not a priority unless we make a huge public fuss about something. Uber will keep everything quiet and go about business as usual…”

    “Probably the Most Important Election of My Lifetime”: Fewer People are On the Fence This Election Year

    In 2016, 13% of gig workers stated they didn’t vote and 11% reported voting for another candidate. That percent in both cases has shrunk considerably for election year 2020.

    Only 3% of respondents report they don’t plan on voting this year, with 4% saying they’ll vote for another candidate.

    According to one driver in Alabama who reports never having voted had this to say: “This is the first time I’ll have voted in my 59 years and I’ve retired in Alabama as that’s where I’m from and Trump doesn’t need my vote here to win. I’m voting because he’s real… everything else has challenged him and he keeps on winning.”

    Another respondent from Texas stated they would be voting in the most important election in their lifetime: “Probably the most important election of my lifetime. [Trump] has consistently lied to the American people and has not represented us in an acceptable manner. He’s treated the office of the President of the United States like a reality TV show.”

    Comments from Rideshare Drivers

    Blunt reality:

    This response made me laugh because, in my opinion, it is spot on. “I don’t think either of them have a clue how to use an app or what real work is, they have had the same gig for most of their lives.” Both have lived a privileged life compared to the average American, it wouldn’t surprise me if neither have had a hard job.

    On the gig economy:

    These direct quotes from respondents related directly to their opinions on how the gig economy may or may not be affected by this election.

    “Neither party truly understands rideshare or the gig economy.”

    “Gig work as we know it will change for the worse if Biden is elected.”

    “I hope whomever is elected, sees and helps the needs of gig workers who have been consistently undercut”

    “Unfortunately, Bernie Sanders is not one of the two candidates, as I believe he would be the biggest advocate for gig workers.”

    “I’d like to remain an independent contractor.”

    Contradicting statements from both sides of the election:

    This is a nice reminder that we all do have different opinions and see everything through different lenses. To one person, everyday working people are being bolstered by the current administration while in the eyes of another, that political party does not care about the average American worker.

    “During the pandemic Republicans have proven that they simply do not care about the struggles of everyday working people.”

    “I think Trump (who I don’t like) will be better for rideshare drivers because he’s less likely to regulate us.”

    Methodology and Data

    The respondents to this survey (1,249) came from The Rideshare Guy email list and social media channels. They are self-described rideshare drivers and gig workers with whom we connected with over the last six years of running The Rideshare Guy.

    • Responses were gathered in September of 2020 [survey closed September 30, 2020]
    • This is a survey of rideshare drivers and gig workers (individuals), not companies or brands (groups)
    • Data was collected from self-identified US voters
    • Respondents were incentivized to take the survey (one $250 Amazon gift card)

    Data was collected using SurveyLegend, a survey and polling app. The survey had a total of 9 questions.

    Press inquiries: Please email [email protected]

    The 2020 Presidential Election in the Eyes of Rideshare Drivers and Voters

    One important thing we wanted to accomplish with this survey, and thank you to the 1000+ RSG readers and viewers who took this survey, was getting rideshare drivers’ opinions out there.

    RSG has been a resource by drivers, for drivers for years, but rarely do many in the media seek out drivers’ opinions before running stories on ‘what drivers want’. We wanted to give you, the drivers, an opportunity to share your thoughts on this important upcoming election – and you did!

    As you can see from the statistics above, it’s a very divided election. At the time we closed this survey, voting sat at 48% for former Vice President Joe Biden vs. 43% for President Trump. As you can see from the comments, people’s reactions are just as diverse. We’re all rideshare drivers, but we don’t all think alike.

    What do you think about the poll results? If your state is a battleground or swing state, do you agree or disagree with your fellow voters? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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    -Paula @ RSG with additional reporting from RSG staff

    Paula Gibbins

    Paula Gibbins

    Paula Gibbins, a graduate of Augustana University, Sioux Falls, is a part-time rideshare driver and a full-time proofreader. She is based in Minneapolis/St. Paul. In her free time, Paula enjoys reading, playing board games and participating in trivia nights.