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Most voters are concerned about the pandemic and the economy, so when they favor Joe Biden on coronavirus and Donald Trump has a narrow edge on pocketbook issues — it makes for a tight race for the White House.
The latest Fox News Poll finds voters trust Biden to do a better job than Trump on health care by 17 points, coronavirus by 9, and relations with China by 6. Trump is trusted more on the economy by a slim 3-point margin.
“That might be the election in a nutshell,” says Democrat Chris Anderson, who conducts the poll with Republican Daron Shaw. “Trump has a slight advantage in a narrow debate about economic recovery, but a debate about coronavirus or public health more broadly benefits Biden.”
Eighty-eight percent are concerned about coronavirus spreading and 78 percent feel the economy is in bad shape.
There has been a seismic shift in views on the economy since the pandemic. In January, voters rated economic conditions positively by an 11-point margin: 55 percent excellent/good vs. 44 percent only fair/poor. Today, views are negative by 58 points: 20 percent excellent/good vs. 78 percent only fair/poor.
Positive ratings dropped 49 points among Republicans (from 85 to 36 percent) since January and 22 points among Democrats (from 31 to 9 percent).
As 44 percent report someone in their household has lost work because of coronavirus, a 54 percent majority thinks the country is in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Sixty-five percent felt that way in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
More Democrats (67 percent) than Republicans (40 percent) feel it is the worst crisis since the Depression.
Republicans are more optimistic about a speedy recovery, as 50 percent expect the economy to improve in the next six months. Just 19 percent of Democrats say the same.
Overall, 32 percent think the economy will improve within 6 months, 23 percent say 7-12 months, 24 percent say 1-2 years, and 14 percent think longer than that.
In the 2020 ballot test, Biden leads Trump by 48-40 percent. Biden’s 8-point advantage is outside the poll’s margin of error. However, given that 11 percent are undecided or plan to vote for someone else, neither candidate hits 50 percent support. The race could go either way.
Among voters who are extremely motivated about voting this fall, Biden has a 12-point advantage (53-41 percent). More Biden supporters (69 percent) than Trump supporters (63 percent) feel extremely motivated to vote.
Trump leads by 7 points among men and by 30 among rural whites. He won both groups by larger margins in 2016 (11 and 37 points respectively).
Biden leads by 20 points among women and 64 points among blacks. Compared to Hillary Clinton in 2016, he bests her performance among women (Clinton was +13) but lags among blacks (Clinton +81).
The 27-point gender gap is even larger than the record 24-point gap in 2016.
Biden makes inroads with two key groups: independents prefer him by 13 points and voters ages 65+ by 17 points. In 2016, Trump won independents by 4 and seniors by 7.
Even small differences in party loyalty and defections matter in tight races. Biden receives the support of 88 percent of Democrats and 8 percent of Republicans. For Trump, 84 percent of Republicans back him and 3 percent of Democrats.
Sixty-nine percent are following news about the allegation of sexual assault against Biden very or somewhat closely. The accusation comes from Tara Reade, a former staffer in Biden’s senate office in the early 1990s.
Fifty-two percent of voters say the allegation will be a factor in deciding their vote for president, including 24 percent who say it will be a major factor. It will not be a factor for 44 percent.
More men (56 percent) than women (47 percent), and more Republicans (62 percent) than Democrats (46 percent) or independents (40 percent) say the allegation will matter to their vote.
At the same time, voters trust Biden to do a better job than Trump handling women’s rights by a 23-point margin, with one-in-ten (13 percent) saying they trust “neither.”
Trump’s personal favorable rating is net negative by 12 points: 43 percent view him positively, while 55 percent have an unfavorable opinion (including 45 percent “strongly” unfavorable). Biden has a net positive rating by 2 points: 48 percent favorable, 46 percent unfavorable (31 percent “strongly” unfavorable).
The small subgroup who view both negatively prefer Biden over Trump by 40-11 percent in the matchup.
As states work on ways for people to vote safely in the middle of a pandemic, voters favor allowing mail ballots this year by a 63-30 percent margin.
About one in five, 19 percent, report they usually vote by mail/absentee. When asked about this year, nearly twice as many, 35 percent, say they want to vote by mail.
Democrats are much more likely than Republicans to favor allowing mail-in voting because of coronavirus (83 vs. 42 percent), and Democrats are twice as likely to want to vote by mail this year (46 vs. 23 percent). In addition, groups that prefer Biden are among those most inclined to vote by mail in the fall, including women, seniors, and liberals.
Former President Barack Obama remains popular. Sixty-three percent have a favorable opinion of him. That skyrockets to 93 percent among Democrats. Biden’s favorability among Democrats sits at 81 percent and Trump gets 85 percent among Republicans.
Views split over the Department of Justice dropping charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn: 31 percent approve, 37 percent disapprove, and 32 percent are unsure. In 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during the Russia investigation. When asked whether the FBI acted appropriately during that investigation, 36 percent of voters say yes, while 31 percent say no.
The poll asked voters to name the worst enemy of the United States: 36 percent cite China, 18 percent Russia, 16 percent North Korea, and 7 percent Iran. A majority of Republicans (54 percent) and plurality of independents (33 percent) put China at the top of the list. Among Democrats, Russia is the worst enemy (30 percent), followed by China (20 percent).
Conducted May 17-20, 2020 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company (R), this Fox News Poll includes interviews with 1,207 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide who spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for all registered voters.