The general election this November continues to approach amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. Although President Donald Trump’s public approval has inched upward at times amidst the crisis, a new Harvard CAPS/Harris poll still has presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with a resounding lead in their expected general election match-up. In the poll, among registered voters, Biden nabbed 54 percent of the support compared to just 46 percent for Trump — although it is important to note that the leading margin narrows among so-called “very likely” voters. Among them, Biden nabbed 52 percent of the support compared to 48 percent for Trump.
Some of the crucial indicators that seemed to drive Biden’s lead included public perceptions that he would be better at managing a pandemic and overall very low opinions of Trump personally among independents, only 25 percent of whom said they held a favorable view of him.
Harvard CAPS/Harris director Mark Penn commented:
‘Biden still does well in the head to heads, largely on his personal likability and strength in core democratic issues like health care, education and climate change. But he lags on the key economic issue and has yet to face a direct side-by-side confrontation with Trump. Importantly, the race narrows considerably when we look at likely and very likely voters, revealing more enthusiasm in the Republican base compared to Democrats.’
Biden has months to build up more of the “enthusiasm” that’s necessary to take on Trump, although there are already good signs. In the pre-pandemic Virginia Democratic presidential primary, which Biden won with a resounding lead, turnout soared to nearly twice the level of the 2016 primary in the state. Biden nabbed around 200,000 more votes than Hillary Clinton did when she won the same race in the previous cycle. That, along with similar numbers elsewhere, suggests that at least some Democratic voters are looking forward to the opportunity to take on Trump in November.
Still, in the new Harvard poll, 49 percent of respondents said that they approved of Trump’s overall job performance, which is the highest level that the poll has recorded in about three years, since early 2017. In the new poll, a full 56 percent of voters said that they approved of Trump’s handling of the economy, while 51 percent of them said they supported his handling of the Coronavirus — although at the same time, a full 55 percent of respondents said they dislike Trump as a person.
That’s never stopped moderate Republicans from jumping on board with Trump in the past, although Penn, curiously enough, suggested of Trump that his “personal style, not his actions, continue to hold him back,” despite the fact that Americans now have to grapple with the Coronavirus carnage and economic calamity that he’s helped exacerbate through sheer inaction.
Coronavirus-related issues will no doubt weigh on voters’ decisions in the 2020 general election. In recent weeks, around 22 million Americans newly filed for unemployment benefits, suggesting absolutely staggering levels of unemployment amidst the social distancing demands instituted in an attempt to manage the spread of the Coronavirus. Trump has been clamoring to get the economy reopened, although a premature reopening could kill people if the virus spreads unchecked.