Trump’s prospect for re-election slips over negative Covid ratings, poll suggests
Overall, Americans offer mixed assessments of Trump and Biden, and although the presumptive Democratic nominee is viewed less favourably overall today than he was last fall, he fares better than the president on several personal attributes.Updated: Jun 01, 2020 10:55 IST
Donald Trump’s prospect for re-election expected to be held in November seems to be eroding as Americans give negative ratings to the US President for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the blowback of which continues to persist on the economy as well as on the daily lives of the people, in comparison to his rival and former vice president Joe Biden who now enjoys a clear lead nationally, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Overall, Americans offer mixed assessments of Trump and Biden, and although the presumptive Democratic nominee is viewed less favourably overall today than he was last fall, he fares better than the president on several personal attributes.
At the same time, Trump’s supporters are notably more enthusiastic and committed to voting for him in the fall than are those who currently back Biden, said the Post-ABC poll, conducted between May 25-28 over phone among a random national sample of 1,001 adults.
Biden leads Trump with 53 per cent to 43 per cent among registered voters nationally. That 10 percentage-point margin compares with what was a virtual dead heat between the two candidates two months ago when Biden was at 49 per cent and Trump 47 per cent. Among all adults, Biden’s margin widens to 13 points (53 per cent to 40 per cent).
Against a rapidly changing backdrop -- with the coronavirus far from contained, the prospects for the economy remaining rocky as many businesses begin to reopen and violence convulsing cities across the nation -- the poll captures the moment. But it is not predictive as to the political fallout and implications for November, especially given the possible disparity between the popular vote and the electoral college results as was the case in 2016.
Two months ago, Trump reached his highest approval rating in Post-ABC polls and for the first time he was in narrowly positive territory with 48 per cent approving to 46 per cent disapproving.
The decline this time is also evident in assessments of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. Two months ago, as the nation was beginning to shutter itself to halt the spread of the virus, he was in positive territory, 51 per cent to 45 per cent. Today he has slipped to 46 per cent approving and 53 per cent disapproving.
Trump’s stronger ratings in March were fueled in part by improved standing among some Democratic-leaning groups, some swing voters and also among women, signs of a rally effect that past presidents have experienced during national crises.
That support has now receded, both on his handling of the pandemic and his overall rating. Among women, for example, approval on Trump’s handling of the virus has moved from an even split in March (48 per cent to 48 per cent disapproval) to significantly negative now (39 per cent positive to 59 per cent negative).
On the economy, the president’s ratings are still in positive territory, at 52 per cent of Americans approving and 44 per cent disapproving. But that also reflects slippage since March, when he was net positive by 19 points.
At a time when more than 40 million people have applied for unemployment insurance, the jobless rate in April was 14.7 per cent and some small businesses have been closed permanently, assessments of the economy have understandably turned sour.
The poll also found that 34 per cent of Americans gave the economy a positive rating while 65 per cent offered a negative rating, including 24 per cent who offer the harshest verdict by saying the current state is “poor.”
The Trump campaign has a huge financial advantage over Biden and is expected to use it to further sully his image in an attempt to re-create the circumstances that helped lead to Trump’s election in 2016.
Democrats are counting on strong support from suburban voters, especially women, to help fuel a possible victory in November. Currently, suburbanites are more favourable toward Biden than they were toward Clinton in May 2016, with Biden at 50 per cent favourable compared with 38 per cent who were favourable toward Clinton then.