Biden continues to lead Trump in polls but is still vulnerable on the economy

Griffin Connolly
Sunday 13 September 2020 22:07
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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden continued to lead Donald Trump in nearly every national and swing state poll over the last two weeks as the president's record on the coronavirus pandemic was thrown back into the spotlight.

The former vice president led the incumbent by an average of 7.5 percentage points in 11 national polls conducted between 28 August and 12 September, RealClearPolitics found.

But Mr Biden still showed vulnerabilities on the economy, as Mr Trump's record there received a boost with the release of the August job numbers last week.

Unemployment, which soared to unprecedented modern heights in April and May, settled back down into the single digits at 8.4 per cent in August. That's still a recession-level figure, but Mr Trump has pitched voters on giving him four more years to achieve the "great American comeback".

Still the economy, stupid

Likely voters in Arizona and Minnesota who said they'd vote for Mr Trump if the election were held today overwhelmingly fingered the economy as the No 1 issue that concerns them most if Mr Biden were to win this November, according to a series of swing state polls from CBS News/YouGov released on Sunday.

Policing and protests were the next-most concerning issue for Trump voters, with the coronavirus pandemic and matters on race and race relations both of negligible relative importance.

In Arizona, 64 per cent of Trump voters said they'd be most concerned about Mr Biden's handling of the economy, compared to 27 per cent who said his response to policing and protests was most concerning.

In Minnesota -- where the death in police custody of George Floyd in May sparked a summer of protests against the law enforcement status quo that at times broke out into pockets of violence and riotous behaviour  - 58 per cent of Trump voters said they were most worried about Mr Biden's prospective handling of the economy, while 30 per cent chose policing and protests.

Biden voters expressed the opposite areas of most concern, with coronavirus and race relations being the No 1 and No 2 issues worrying them most about the prospect of four more years of Mr Trump.

Despite Mr Biden once again denouncing politically motivated violence "across the board" last week, including a direct condemnation of the loose collection of left-wing, anti-fascist demonstrators known as Antifa, the Trump campaign has continued trying to link the Democratic nominee to the violent elements of this summer's protests.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump spent much of the second part of last week fending off criticism for publicly playing down the threat of the coronavirus this past spring while acknowledging it was much more deadly than the common flu in private conversations with the journalist Bob Woodward.

"I don't want to jump up and down and start screaming, 'Death! Death!' because that's not what it's about," Mr Trump said, apparently unaware of the giant rhetorical middle ground between inciting a panic and telling Americans they have little to worry about.

More than 193,000 Americans have died so far from Covid-19. While the US represents just 5 per cent of the global population, Americans make up more than 20 per cent of the worldwide deaths from Covid-19.

The troops

In the week following reports Mr Trump has called US veterans and fallen soldiers "suckers" and "losers," new polling data revealed more Americans think Mr Biden respects the troops and military than Mr Trump.

Roughly seven in 10 registered voters in a national Monmouth University poll said they believe Mr Biden respects the US military and its personnel a great deal (48 per cent) or some (23 per cent). Just over half of respondents to the poll said the same of Mr Trump (41 per cent a great deal, 14 per cent some).

Mr Trump has fiercely denied the anonymously sourced claims from a report in the Atlantic that he called veterans "suckers," asking "what animal would say that?" He suggested the story's quotes came from disgruntled former staffers.

"Biden has an edge on the question of respecting those who serve in our armed forces, but it doesn't really look like recent allegations of Trump allegedly disparaging them have created any notable change in the campaign's trajectory," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Mr Biden led Mr Trump among registered voters by 9 percentage points and among likely voters by 7 percentage points, the national poll conducted from 3 to 8 September found.

The president received much stronger backing from US service members than Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign, several polls at the time showed.

But that support has appeared to deteriorate over the course of his presidency.

And while military households still support Mr Trump more than Mr Biden, the president is trailing his opponent among active-duty members, according to the latest Military Times poll.

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