President Donald Trump’s advantage on the economy over presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has largely disappeared since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to two polls released Sunday.
In March, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found Trump ahead by 12 percentage points over Biden among Americans when it came to whom they trusted more to handle the economy. But a new ABC NEWS/Washington Post poll found Trump’s lead has shrunk to two percentage-points, 47%-45%. And the March poll found Americans approved of the job Trump was doing on the economy by a 19-point margin, 57%-38%, while Sunday’s poll found that margin had shrunk to 3 points, 50%-47%.
Separately, a Fox News poll released Sunday found Biden with a one-point lead, 44%-43%, over Trump when voters were asked whom they trusted to do a better job on the economy. A Fox News poll in May had found Trump leading Biden on that question, 45%-42%. In the recent poll, voters were split 47%-47% on the job Trump was doing on the economy, marking the first time the poll did not find a plurality of voters approving of his handling of the economy since April 2018.
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The percentage of voters in the Fox News poll who said they were better off than they were fours years ago also declined. Twenty-six percent of voters said they and their families were better off, while 28% said things were worse. Another 45% said their situation was about the same. In March, 33% said they were better off, 29% said they were worse and 37% said things were about the same.
And the number of voters rating the economy as “poor” more than doubled since January, from 14% to 32%, while the number rating it as “excellent” or “good” dropped from 55% to 29%.
Before the coronavirus outbreak sparked a recession, Trump had planned to make a strong economy a central element of his re-election campaign. And even after the pandemic reached the U.S., sparking lockdowns across the nation, the economy continued to be one issue where Trump consistently performed well in the polls. Biden led Trump on most other issues, such as who voters trusted to handle health care and foreign policy.
The Fox News poll found Biden’s lead had grown when it came to whom voters trusted more to handle the coronavirus outbreak, climbing to 51%-34% from 46%-37% in May. And voters trusted Biden to do a better job on race relations by nearly 20 points, 52%-31%.
Trump’s handling of the pandemic was approved of by 43% of voters, while 56% said they disapproved. When the outbreak began in March, 51% approved of his response and 46% disapproved. By contrast, 74% approve of the job that has been done by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, according to the recent poll.
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Trump has strongly pushed for schools around the country to resume full-time in-person classes in the fall. Only 15% of voters said they favored reopening the schools “as usual” and another 21% supported a return to classrooms accompanied with social distancing measures. More than half of voters thought remote learning, which Trump opposes, will have to be at least part of the new school year – with 31% supporting a combination of in-person and remote classes and 25% calling for fully remote classes.
Despite the Trump campaign’s effort to paint Biden as mentally unfit to serve as president due to his age, voters had more doubts about Trump’s fitness for office. When asked if they thought if Biden had the “mental soundness to serve effectively as president,” 47% said yes and 39% said no. With Trump, 43% said yes and 51% said no.
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A 52% majority said Biden had the judgment to serve, while only 40% said the same of Trump. Fifty-three percent said Trump lacked the judgment to be president. Majorities also said Trump lacked the compassion and intelligence to be president.
Trump maintained a strong advantage over Biden when it came to the enthusiasm of their supporters. A total of 94% of registered voters who planned to support Trump said they were enthusiastic to do so in the ABC/Post poll – 69% of them “very” enthusiastic and 25% “somewhat” enthused.
For Biden, the total number was 79% and 39% said they were “very” enthusiastic. That total number was up from 76% in the previous ABC/Post poll and the number of “very” enthusiastic supporters also climbed five percentage points.
The ABC News poll found Americans trusted Biden more to handle the coronavirus outbreak (54%-34%), crime (50%-41%) and race relations (58%-33%). And more voters said Biden is “honest and trustworthy” (49%-35%), understands their problems (52%-35%), has the temperament to be president (59%-33%), better understands “what America should stand for” (50%-40%), better represents their values (50%-38%) and would do more to unite the country (57%-33%).
Both polls were conducted July 12-15. The ABC/Post poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points among all adults and 4 points among registered voters. The Fox News poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump edge over Joe Biden on economy wiped out in two new polls