Americans not confident Biden or Trump can fix the economy or COVID-19

Linley SandersData Journalist
August 03, 2020, 1:20 PM GMT+0

As the nation faces unprecedented economic turmoil and coronavirus cases continue to rise, most Americans are uncertain that either President Donald Trump or Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden will be able to improve the crises from the White House.

In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, Americans continue to give President Trump a slight edge over Biden on improving the economy (39% vs 33%). However, that edge comes from a higher uncertainty among Americans on how a Biden presidency (18%) will impact the economy, not a higher belief that Biden will make matters worse. The general public is equally likely (39% vs 39%) to believe the nation’s struggling economy could worsen under a Trump or Biden presidency.

Most Republicans (80%) and Democrats (68%) believe their respective 2020 candidates will improve the economy and that their opponent will worsen it. Two in five Independents give the edge to President Trump (41%) over Biden (27%) in improving the economy.

The nation’s economic turmoil is tied to another crisis: its steady number of coronavirus cases and deaths. The New York Times’ database of COVID-19 cases and deaths indicates that more than 4.5 million people in the United States have experienced confirmed coronavirus cases, and at least 150,000 have died from the virus.

Local economies have been forced to close to prevent case spikes as the illness continues to spread, exacerbating the nation’s economic issues. As with the economic struggles, Americans are not overwhelmingly convinced that Biden or Trump will be able to deal with the outbreaks. Half of Americans (51%) are uneasy about President Trump’s ability to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, and a plurality (44%) say the same about his Democratic challenger.

The nation's unease with the incumbent president’s ability to deal with the coronavirus outbreaks comes as about half of Americans disapprove (53%) of how he is currently handling the pandemic. That level of disapproval has remained steady in recent weeks but reached a high of 57 percent on the Economist/YouGov Poll on July 4.

One-third (32%) of Americans are confident in Biden’s ability to handle the coronavirus. About a quarter (24%) are uncertain, which could be because many Americans have not heard anything about his ideas. About half of Americans (45%) say they have heard “nothing at all” about Biden’s proposals for containing the COVID-19 outbreak.

About three-quarters (73%) of Democrats have heard a lot or a little about Biden’s plans for halting the virus’ spread. Fewer Republicans (48%) or Independents (47%) say the same.

Related: Are Americans more worried about voter fraud or denying eligible voters their ballot?

See the toplines and crosstabs from this week’s Economist/YouGov Poll

Methodology: This Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between July 26 - 28, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3.5% for the overall sample.

Image: Getty