Polls Put Biden on Top in Head-to-Head Matchup With Trump

While more voters say they plan to back former Vice President Joe Biden over President Donald Trump in November, their enthusiasm for the election is slipping as the global pandemic shreds American life as we know it.

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a virtual press briefing on, March 25, 2020. (Biden for President via AP)

(CN) — With former Vice President Joe Biden poised to be the Democratic presidential nominee after Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race Wednesday, new polling data puts Biden atop the only major rival left in the presidential race — President Donald Trump.

A national CNN poll released Thursday gives Biden a commanding 11-point lead over Trump, with 53% support of registered voters compared to Trump’s 42%. These numbers mirror a polling matchup conducted by CNN in March in which Biden held a 10-point lead over the president.

Biden’s polling advantage over Trump comes as the presidential election has been thrown into complete disarray in recent weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic. An election cycle that was dominating airwaves at the beginning of the year has been fundamentally changed with canceled rallies, changed talking points and even comradery among candidates. This was seen this week when Biden and Trump shared a phone call about the national response to coronavirus, a call both men later said was a gracious and pleasant exchange.

The CNN poll shows, however, that the coronavirus outbreak has at least partially contributed to Biden’s lead over Trump, with more voters saying they trust the former vice president to guide them through this troubled time. Biden leads Trump in voter trust on a host of critical issues, such as the ability to manage the virus outbreak (52% to 43%), the issue of America’s health care (57% to 39%) and in offering meaningful help to the middle class (57% to 38%).

Yet with America’s economy shredded by the virus outbreak as unemployment spikes and businesses shutter, the poll finds Trump continues to lead the former vice president on the issue. Half of respondents say they most trust the president to handle the economy while 46% say the same for Biden. Trump is also getting a small boost from some Democrats in this regard, as 16% of Democrats say that Trump is better equipped to handle the economy than Biden.

One space that is largely unaffected by the recent outbreak is the makeup of the candidates’ voter bases. Biden currently enjoys most of his support from Democrats, women, voters of color and young people, while Trump continues to do best among Republicans, men, white voters and seniors.

Independents are generally split between the two candidates, though they seem to be congregating more around the former vice president. Just over half (52%) of independents say they are behind Biden while 40% say they support Trump.

Regardless of who they will eventually support in the upcoming general election, more voters are reporting less enthusiasm about the election amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Just last month, 66% of voters said they were either very or extremely enthusiastic about the presidential contest. Now, just 57% of voters report that level of excitement.

Voters are also showing some divisions on how to best conduct our elections during the coronavirus outbreak. The CNN poll shows that 54% of voters would still like to see states continue to offer in-person voting options going forward, while 41% say they would like to see the general election play out using all mail ballots.

Trump recently expressed his dislike for mail ballots in the general election, claiming they encourage cheating – an argument that has been largely debunked. 

“Mail ballots are very dangerous thing for this country because they’re cheaters. They go and collect them. They’re fraudulent in many cases,” Trump said during a press briefing April 7.

A Monmouth University poll also released Thursday shows Biden continues to lead Trump, though by not quite the commanding margin reported in the CNN poll. The Monmouth poll gives the former vice president a four-point lead over Trump among registered voters, 48% to 44%, virtually unchanged from a Monmouth poll in March.

A small but potentially pivotal 5% of voters say they would think about throwing their support behind an independent candidate. Another 3% say they are undecided.

Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said Trump should be concerned his poll numbers haven’t budged amid the global pandemic.

“The static nature of these results suggests the president’s response to the pandemic is certainly not helping his re-election prospects,” Murray said with the release of the Monmouth poll.

The Monmouth poll shows that one area Trump saw some movement is in his approval ratings, though they are not moving in a positive direction for the president. Trump’s current favorability rating in the poll is at just 42%, down four points from last month.

Biden, meanwhile, seems to have a slightly smaller yet more stable approval rating. The poll shows Biden’s favorability is sitting at 41%, virtually unchanged since February.

The CNN poll of 1,002 individuals has a 3.7% margin of error. The Monmouth University poll of 857 respondents has a 3.6% margin of error.

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