Coronavirus Taking Political Toll on Trump as Biden Leads in Swing States, Poll Finds

April 24, 2020by Jonathan Tamari, The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)
A screen grab of former Vice President and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaking about the economy from his home in Delaware on April 2, 2020. (Brian Cahn/Zuma Press/TNS)

PHILADELPHIA — Joe Biden has a sizable lead over President Donald Trump in Pennsylvania, according to a new poll, as voters cast a critical eye on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The survey by Fox News showed Biden leading Trump by 50% to 42% in Pennsylvania, a swing state that helped seal Trump’s victory in 2016. In Michigan, a similarly pivotal battleground, Fox also found Biden leading, 49% to 41%.

Both polls were released Wednesday, the same day a Quinnipiac University survey found Biden with a narrower 46% to 42% lead in Florida, another one of the most hotly contested presidential battlegrounds.

In all three states voters had a negative view of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus. By contrast, those in Pennsylvania and Michigan had strongly positive assessments of their governors’ responses, and Floridians gave their governor slightly better marks than Trump.

The results suggest that while Biden has been largely sidelined by the pandemic, Trump has damaged himself with his erratic leadership through the national crisis.

In Pennsylvania, 44% of voters approve of the way Trump has handled the coronavirus, compared with 51% who disapprove. Almost two-thirds of voters, 58%, said the administration was too slow to respond.

By contrast, 69% of Pennsylvanians approve of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s handling of the crisis, including half of self-identified Republicans.

Despite high-profile protests in Harrisburg this week, the poll also found widespread support for the safety precautions Wolf has imposed, with almost two-thirds of voters more worried about health risks than the pain caused by shutting down wide swaths of the state’s economy.

Some 64% of voters agreed with the statement that “we should wait to reopen the economy, even if it means the economic crisis lasts longer.” Against that, 25% agreed that “we should reopen the economy, even if it means the public health crisis lasts longer.”

As with any poll, the numbers could shift as the election unfolds and as the pandemic — and Trump’s response to it — continues. But at this moment, they suggest Trump’s handling of the greatest crisis of his presidency is hurting him in vital states.

The Fox poll surveyed 803 Pennsylvania voters from April 18-21 and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.5 percentage points.

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©2020 The Philadelphia Inquirer

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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