Coronavirus Report

Biden has 10-point lead over Trump: ‘It’s the virus, stupid’

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden leads President Trump by 10 points nationally in the latest Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey, with a strong majority of voters viewing Biden as better equipped to lead the country through the coronavirus pandemic and racial turbulence.

The poll found Biden at 55 percent support, against Trump at 45 percent. That’s effectively unchanged from June, when Biden led by 12 points.

Biden has support from 91 percent of Democrats, compared to 87 percent of Republicans who back the president. Independents break for Biden by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin, although 38 percent of independents said they could still change their minds in the 100 days before the election.

Trump’s job approval rating is at 44 percent positive, slightly above his all-time low in the poll of 41 percent. Sixty percent of independents disapprove of the job the president is doing. Forty-seven percent of voters have a favorable view of Biden, compared to 42 percent who view Trump positively.

Overall, two-thirds of voters say the country is on the wrong track, including 83 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of independents. Fifty percent of Republicans say the country is on the right track and 50 percent say it’s on the wrong track.

The coronavirus is by far the top issue on the minds of voters, with 54 percent calling it one of the three most important issues the country faces. Thirty-two percent listed the economy as a top issue, 25 percent health care and 22 percent race relations.

The president has shifted his strategy around the coronavirus in recent days, warning that the deadly virus should be taken seriously and that difficult days lie ahead. Trump is now promoting face masks. He’s canceled the GOP convention in Jacksonville, Fla., while restarting his daily coronavirus briefings. 

But Biden leads Trump by 10 points on who is better to lead on the coronavirus, 55 percent to 45 percent. Sixty-one percent of voters say Trump has done a bad job of managing the virus.

“It’s the virus, stupid,” said Harvard CAPS-Harris Polling Director Mark Penn. “As the presidents’ ratings slipped on the virus, so did his electoral position. He lost 10 points over the last few months on his performance on handling the virus to only 41 percent. The ratings on who would do a better job on the virus mirrors the vote precisely and the virus is the number one issue — all other issues pale in comparison right now and are all but irrelevant. The virus is what is pre-occupying the voters today.”

The White House and Senate Republicans are working to finalize a coronavirus relief package this week after struggling to come to an agreement on several key issues.

Only 41 percent of voters approve of the job congressional Republicans are doing, compared to 48 percent for Democrats.

“This poll does show a stabilization of the president’s ratings as he was up 1 point and is far from his lowest ratings at 44, but the Republicans who are split on what to do about the stimulus look uncertain and so as a party they continued to fall,” said Penn. “They were in step with what the country said they needed at the beginning of the crisis and through the first stimulus bill, but now look divided.”

Biden also leads big on the issue of race and policing — 59 percent to 41 percent over Trump. The former vice president is viewed as more of a uniter, with 61 percent saying he would do better at bringing the country together.

Voters are largely split on the question of law and order, with 52 percent saying Biden is the better leader, compared to 48 percent for Trump.

To address the nationwide protests, the president has dispatched federal troops to cities experiencing demonstrations and incidents of violence. 

The issue is a matter of growing concern among voters. Seventy-seven percent said they’re worried about rising crimes in cities. A plurality, 42 percent, ascribe the crime to protests, 28 percent to frustration over unemployment, 14 percent to police being afraid to engage with citizens, 10 percent to police budget cuts, and 7 percent to police willfully pulling back.

Trump has an advantage on the economy, 53 percent to 47 percent. But Biden is viewed as the stronger candidate in dealing with China, 54 percent to 46 percent, despite the president’s campaign making China a core issue for his reelection.

“Biden leads on dealing with China and even in law and order but that is among the general voting public and not those who care most about the issue,” said Penn. “The poll shows considerable anti-China sentiment right now and concern about local prosecutors who are not seen by the public as enforcing the laws, so those are developing issues to watch over coming months. The favorability of the police went up 7 points to 67 this month while the favorability of Black Lives Matter declined 4 points to 51.”

The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll online survey of 1,932 registered voters was conducted between July 21 and July 23. It 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. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.

Tags China Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump George Floyd protests Joe Biden Mark Penn police reform presidential election

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