Biden has 13-point lead as criticisms of Trump grow

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden pushing his message across at a campaign event in Philadelphia on June 11. PHOTO: REUTERS
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden pushing his message across at a campaign event in Philadelphia on June 11. PHOTO: REUTERS

Shift in opinion by Americans whipsawed by pandemic, economic collapse and protests

NEW YORK • Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has opened up a 13-point lead over President Donald Trump - the widest margin this year - according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll as Americans grow more critical of Mr Trump over the coronavirus pandemic and protests against police brutality.

In the June 10-16 poll, 48 per cent of registered voters said they would back Mr Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, in the Nov 3 election, while 35 per cent said they would support Mr Trump.

Mr Biden's advantage is the biggest recorded by the Reuters/Ipsos poll since Democrats began their state nominating contests this year to pick their party's nominee to challenge Mr Trump in November.

A similar CNN poll from earlier this month showed Mr Biden with a 14-point lead over Mr Trump among registered voters.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll also showed that 57 per cent of US adults disapproved of Mr Trump's performance in office, while 38 per cent approved, marking Mr Trump's lowest approval rating since November, when Congress was conducting its impeachment inquiry into the Republican President.

In a clear warning sign for Mr Trump, his own support base appears to be eroding. Republicans' net approval of Mr Trump is down 13 points from March to June, declining every month in that span.

The shift in opinion comes as Americans are whipsawed by the coronavirus pandemic, the ensuing economic collapse and the outpouring of anger and frustration following numerous deadly confrontations between police and African Americans, including the death last month of Mr George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.

Mr Trump, who dismissed the threat of the coronavirus early on, sparred with state governors as they tried to slow its spread and has pushed the authorities to allow businesses to reopen despite warnings from health experts about increasing risks of transmission.

More than 116,000 people in the US have died from the virus and over 2.1 million people have been infected, by far the most in the world. Some states that have reopened, such as Florida, Arizona and Texas, are seeing a jump in cases.

Altogether, 55 per cent of Americans said they disapproved of Mr Trump's handling of the coronavirus, while 40 per cent approved, which is the lowest net approval for the President on the subject since Reuters/Ipsos started tracking the question in early March.

Mr Trump has also been criticised for the way he has responded to the protests that were sparked by Mr Floyd's killing. While nearly two-thirds of respondents sympathised with the protesters, according to the poll, Mr Trump has openly flirted with deploying the military to "dominate" them.

Earlier this month, police in Washington forcibly removed peaceful protesters so that the President could pose for photographs in front of a church near the White House.

As businesses shuttered across the country because of coronavirus lockdowns, Americans have increasingly turned their focus to the economy and jobs as a top concern.

In that area, Mr Trump has the upper hand over Mr Biden. Forty-three per cent of registered voters said they thought Mr Trump would be a better steward of the economy than Mr Biden, while 38 per cent said Mr Biden would be better.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the US. The poll gathered responses from 4,426 American adults, including 2,047 Democrats and 1,593 Republicans. It had a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2020, with the headline 'Biden has 13-point lead as criticisms of Trump grow'. Print Edition | Subscribe