Biden opens up largest polling lead of the year over Trump

Joe Biden is leading in every public poll in June in key battleground states. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - Joe Biden leads United States President Donald Trump 50 per cent to 36 per cent in a new nationwide poll on Wednesday (June 24), the latest alarm bell for the president's campaign as the economy, coronavirus and Black Lives Matter protests continue to weigh on his re-election bid.

The 14-point difference in the New York Times/Siena College poll matches the largest margin Mr Biden has seen this year, and it shows the presumptive Democratic nominee leading or making inroads among a broad cross-section of demographic groups.

Amid a campaign schedule curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic, the former vice-president is ahead by 22 points among women, but also three points among men. He is ahead or effectively tied in every age and ethnic group, and he leads by 21 points among independent voters.

Mr Trump's only dependable lead comes from registered Republicans and from the one demographic group that gave him an advantage in industrial battleground states in 2016: white, non-college educated voters. He leads Mr Biden among that cohort by 19 points.

Mr Biden's national polling lead at this point in the campaign cycle is larger than any enjoyed by Mrs Hillary Clinton in the last six months of the 2016 campaign. And Mr Biden is leading in every public poll in June in key battleground states like Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin - all states that Mr Trump won in 2016, giving him an Electoral College victory despite losing the popular vote.

But national polls don't always predict the outcome. Mr Trump won some of those states by a fraction of a percentage point - allowing him to pull off an upset victory despite trailing in national polls in the days before the election. If he outperforms Mr Biden in those key states again, that could tilt the balance.

Mr Trump's 50 per cent approval rating on economic issues continues to be a bright spot. Only 39 per cent approve of his handling of criminal justice, 38 per cent on the coronavirus, 33 per cent on race relations and 29 per cent on the nationwide protests after the police killing of Mr George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.

Mr Trump has responded to the protests by ordering federal troops to guard the White House and celebrating the "Great American Heritage" of statues and military bases commemorating Confederate generals. His attempt to reboot his campaign with a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma was met with sparse crowds and controversy when he said he ordered officials to slow coronavirus testing because it was showing increased infection numbers.

Mr Biden, meanwhile, has been largely confined to the immediate vicinity of his Delaware home, conducting fund raisers and campaign events online. He has held a few small campaign events in Delaware and nearby Philadelphia. A Tuesday fund raiser with former president Barack Obama raised US$11 million (S$15 million).

Mr Biden's 14-point advantage is the same lead registered in a CNN poll earlier this month that caused an angry Trump campaign to demand the cable channel retract its findings. The Times sample contained 26 per cent Republicans, which is consistent with the findings of similar telephone polls; the Trump campaign says pollsters should assume the same 33 per cent representation found in 2016 exit polls.

The addition of the New York Times poll pushed Mr Biden's lead in the FiveThirtyEight average of polls to over 10 percentage points for the first time.

The telephone survey of 1,337 registered voters was conducted from June 17 to 22 and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.

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