(CN) — New polling released Wednesday shows Joe Biden continues to put the pressure on President Donald Trump in crucial battleground states as the president remains sidelined from the coronavirus.
The polls, conducted by The New York Times/Siena College, were taken after Trump announced he tested positive for Covid-19 but before he returned to the White House from the Walter Reed Medical Center for treatment.
In Nevada, where Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton won by two percentage points in 2016, Biden leads Trump 48% to 42%. Biden remains in a fierce fight with the president in Ohio, holding a slim one point advantage over the incumbent, well within the poll’s margin of error.
President Trump won the Buckeye State in 2016 by about eight percentage points, but the pandemic continues to influence the minds and lives of voters. Six percent of Nevada voters and 7% of Ohio voters remain undecided. The margin of error for the polls was plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.
Trump’s handling of the pandemic has had an impact on voters. About 20% of Trump supporters from both Nevada and Ohio admitted the president did not take adequate precautions to protect himself from Covid-19. In Nevada, voters trust Biden to confront the pandemic better by a 10-point margin and by an 8-point difference in Ohio.
Robert Alexander, professor of political science at Ohio Northern University, thinks Trump is not confronting reality.
“President Trump has not forcefully argued for mask wearing and his rallies have not adhered to the social distancing guidelines suggested by the CDC. Yet, polls consistently show that more than 7 in 10 Americans report supporting mask mandates in these unprecedented times,” he wrote in an email.
Among all voters, 62% from Nevada and 58% from Ohio said President Trump failed to take the necessary measures to protect himself from the coronavirus. But one-third of those polled from each state maintained he did what he could.
Some of those Trump supporters polled, 37% in Ohio and 22% in Nevada, conceded his large rallies where people congregated closely without masks were not the best idea in the Covid era.
When voters were asked how a candidate should campaign in the age of Covid-19, 20% of Ohio voters and 28% of Nevadans said it would be fine to appear in person before large crowds.
A decisive 65% of Ohioans and 58% of Nevada voters said candidates should campaign only in front of reduced groups that practice social distancing.
Alexander believes that Trump downplaying the virus has caused an erosion of support.
“It is difficult to square the president telling Americans to not let coronavirus dominate our lives when in fact, signs of the pandemic are everywhere,” the professor said. “This can be seen in many ways, from disruptions in schools, in sports–from little league to the professional ranks–with great economic uncertainty, and of course with our public health. Most all Americans know someone who has been affected by the toll of Covid-19.”
Reflecting the stance projected from the president that he would bounce back from his illness quickly, Trump supporters still have faith their leader will get better soon.
Republicans, by a margin of 79-10% in Ohio, and 84-10% in Nevada, are convinced he will rapidly recover from the virus that has killed more than 211,000 and infected more than 7.5 million Americans since March.
Alexander said that is a sign of the times.
“Partisanship is an awfully strong filter these days,” he said. “One’s partisanship is really dictating how they are viewing most all events in the public sphere. Democrats and Republicans look at the same event and see very different things.”
Biden is attracting a lot of support from those in 2016 who cast ballots for third-party candidates or who simply did not vote.
In Ohio, 51% of third-party voters are backing the former vice president, compared to 16% for President Trump. Biden has the support of Nevada third-party voters by a 19-point margin, 45% to 26%.
Biden is doing well with women voters overall where he holds an 11-point edge in Ohio and a 14-point advantage in Nevada. Suburban voters from both states are flocking to him by a wide margin. He leads Trump by 22 points in Ohio and 32 points in Nevada.
Alexander said the writing is on the wall.
“President Trump’s numbers have been particularly poor among women and older voters,” the professor said. “You also see that far fewer Americans are considering voting third party compared to 2016. It would take quite a turnaround for Trump to earn a second term.”