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Biden widens lead over Trump in Monmouth poll, but Amash may present problem

Joe BidenJoe BidenMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Biden says staff has spoken with Fauci: 'He's been very, very helpful' MORE has widened his lead over President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Republican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race MORE in the 2020 race for the White House, according to a new Monmouth University poll released on Wednesday. 

The poll shows Biden with 50 percent support among those surveyed, 9 points ahead of Trump, who notched 41 percent. That marks a 2-point gain for Biden and a 3-point loss for Trump since the last Monmouth poll released in April. 

But the poll also suggests that Biden may have more to lose than Trump if Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashIncoming GOP lawmaker shares video of hotel room workout, citing 'Democrat tyrannical control' Rundown of the House seats Democrats, GOP flipped on Election Day Romney congratulates Biden after victory MORE (I-Mich.) formally enters the presidential race. When Amash was included in the lineup of candidates in the survey, Biden’s support shrank to 47 percent, while Trump’s decreased only to 40 percent. 

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Amash, a five-term congressman who left the GOP last year amid disagreements with Trump, announced last week that he is exploring a bid for the Libertarian presidential nomination, arguing that voters deserve an option other than Biden or Trump. 

Amash received only 5 percent support in the Monmouth poll. But Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said that if the presidential race is as close as it was in 2016, when Trump beat Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIntercept DC bureau chief says Biden picks are 'same people' from Obama years The Hill's 12:30 Report - Third vaccine candidate with 90% efficacy Biden won — so why did Trump's popularity hit its highest point ever? MORE in the Electoral College, the presence of a third-party candidate on the ballot, like Amash, could prove pivotal.

“Overall, there is not as much of an appetite for a third option as there was four years ago,” Murray said. “It’s too early to tell whether Amash will have an impact but if this election ends up being as close as 2016, even a small showing can have a crucial impact.”

Still, Amash has yet to make a formal decision on whether he will mount a presidential campaign, and the latest Monmouth poll suggests that Biden’s support is relatively resilient despite a recent sexual assault allegation from one of his former Senate aides.

Most of those surveyed in the poll — 86 percent — said they have heard of the allegation Biden, but voters are largely divided on whether they believe the accusation: 37 percent said it is probably true, 32 percent said it is probably not true and 31 percent reported no opinion.

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Biden has forcefully denied the allegation from the former staffer, Tara Reade, who says that the then-Delaware senator sexually assaulted her in 1993.

Among those surveyed in the Monmouth poll who said the allegation against Biden is probably not true, 79 percent said they would support the former vice president over Trump. Among those who said that they believe the allegation is probably true, 32 percent said they will still support Biden, while 59 percent said they will back Trump.

Those who reported no opinion on the allegation were almost evenly split. Forty-five percent said they will support, Trump while 43 percent said they will support Biden.

“We don’t know what impact this allegation will have in the long run,” Murray said. “For some voters who believe the charge, it is still not enough to override their desire to oust Trump. The outlook is murkier for those who don’t have an opinion on it. This group includes a number of Democratic-leaning independents who could potentially be swayed if this story grows in importance.”

The Monmouth University poll is based on responses from 739 registered voters interviewed by telephone from April 30 to May 4. It has a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.