Trump gains support among millionaires but would lose to Biden in head-to-head, CNBC survey finds


President Donald Trump gestures toward journalists shouting questions as he departs the White House May 29, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Win McNamee | Getty Images

President Donald Trump is the favorite candidate of America’s millionaires — and his support seems to be strengthening.

Asked which candidate they support for president in 2020, 36% of millionaires named Trump, up from 32% in May, according to the Q4 CNBC Millionaire Survey. The second-favorite candidate is former Vice President Joe Biden, with 14%. Sen. Elizabeth Warren came in third, with 8%. The survey was conducted before Michael Bloomberg entered the race.

Millionaire support for Trump has also grown over the past three years. In mid-2016, Trump trailed Hillary Clinton by 13 points among millionaires. Of millionaires today who have donated to a campaign, the largest number — 39% — have donated to Trump.

Still, their support for Trump — and their all-important donor dollars — depends in large part on who he faces in 2020. When asked who they would support in one-to-one match-ups, Joe Biden beats Trump 48% to 41%, according to the survey. Biden would even get 18% of Republican millionaire votes in a Trump-Biden match-up.

The only other Democratic candidate who beats Trump among millionaires is Pete Buttigieg, who edges past Trump 46% to 43%. Trump easily beats both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren among millionaires.

While the most popular answer from respondents on the question of the issue they will vote on in 2020 was voting Trump out of office, representing 29% of survey takers, that illustrates the extreme partisan divide consistent with past surveys. It was 32% in the Spring 2019 Millionaire Survey. Other issues typically popular with Republican voters split support, including the economy (17%), immigration (10%), “draining the swamp” (7%) and taxes/government spending (6%).

The main reason millionaires back Trump is the economy. Nearly half say he is good for the economy, versus a third who say Biden would be good for the economy. More than 60% said Sanders and Warren would be bad for the economy.

“The race is so fluid right now,” said George Walper, president of Spectrem Group. “The only constant is Trump.”

Walper said that 20 years ago, millionaires would have been much more predominantly Republican. But today they are more reflective of an evenly divided American public.

Democratic presidential hopefuls Former Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren arrive onstage for the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on October 15, 2019.

Nicholas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images

“Geography and who they are is more important than wealth when it comes to their political views,” he said.

Millionaires remain cautious on the economy and markets for next year. A third think the economy will be the same, while 40% say it will be weaker and 28% say it will be stronger. Democratic millionaires are far more pessimistic, with 62% saying it will be weaker.

On the stock market, the largest number — 38% — say the S&P 500 will be up 5% to 10% next year, with 19% predicting it will be even stronger and 20% predicting it will be flat.

The CNBC Millionaire survey polls more than 700 respondents with investible assets of $1 million or more, including 301 Republicans, 200 Democrats and 247 independents. Respondents had to be the financial decision-maker or share jointly in financial decision-making within the household. The survey is conducted twice a year, in the spring and fall.

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