Biden holds narrow lead over Trump ahead of first debate: poll

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden holds a narrow lead over President Trump, according to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris poll, released exclusively to The Hill one day before the first presidential debate. 

Forty-seven percent of likely voters said they would vote for Biden if the election were held today, while 45 percent said they would back Trump. The survey marks a 3-point improvement for Trump and a 2-point decline for Biden from the last poll that was conducted in August. 

Biden also led with likely voters who said they were unsure of who they were going to vote for, with 52 percent saying they were leaning toward supporting the former vice president at the ballot box and 48 percent leaning toward voting for Trump. 

“The poll shows the race closing to 2 points with likely voters and 4 points with leaners as the president showed improvement in the economy that dipped below double-digit unemployment and hit the theme of curbing unrest on which he gained,” said Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll director Mark Penn.

The same survey showed Biden with an advantage on likeability, with 44 percent of respondents saying they like the former vice president personally and 38 percent saying they disliked him. Fifty-five percent of respondents said they disliked Trump personally, while 33 percent said they liked him personally. 

The findings come as Biden and Trump prepare to meet face-to-face for Tuesday’s presidential debate. The  forum is expected to cover a number of topics including the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, and the fallout over a New York Times investigation that found the president paid just $750 in federal income tax in both 2016 and 2017. 

The survey was conducted prior to news of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee and the New York Times report. 

The poll was carried out from Sept. 22 to Sept. 24, among 1,314 registered voters. 

The survey is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and The Harris Poll. The Hill will be working with Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll throughout 2020.

Full poll results will be posted online later this week. The survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics.