What Joe Biden must do to beat Donald Trump in November

May 01, 2020, 2:53 PM UTC

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, continues to lead President Donald Trump among registered voters in a head-to-head matchup (47% to 41%). However, the latest Economist/YouGov Poll suggests that Biden has several tough political decisions to make and obstacles to overcome if he wants to win in November. 

Who America wants as Biden’s vice president

The first pre-election task for Biden is choosing a vice presidential nominee. Most Democratic primary voters (65%) think he should pick a woman. Only one in 20 (5%) Democratic primary voters say Biden should not choose a woman for the position, as he promised to do. 

Men are more likely than women to think this, though most Democratic male voters are content with Biden’s promise. Nearly a third of Democratic voters aren’t sure whether they approve or not of the decision to ensure his running mate is female.

When should Biden make the widely anticipated announcement about who she is? Just a quarter of Democratic voters want Biden to make the choice now – and nearly a quarter believe he should wait until the (postponed until August) convention is near. As for a preferred candidate, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren leads California Senator Kamala Harris when Democratic voters are asked to volunteer their first choice (former First Lady Michelle Obama is third). The two Senators also are the top choices when Democratic voters are asked to choose from a list.

Male Democratic voters are just about as likely to choose Harris as Warren; African-Americans add Georgia’s Stacey Abrams to the top group, along with Harris and Warren. One in ten Democratic voters want someone else, while 17% aren’t sure about their preference.

Winning over reluctant Bernie Sanders supporters

Biden’s second concern is to attract those Democratic voters who supported (and still prefer) Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.  Sanders supporters make up about a third of all Democratic voters, and as of now, just three-quarters of them report they will vote for Biden in November. While only 7 percent will vote for Trump, 6 percent say that as of now, they won’t vote at all. 

Sanders’s endorsement of Biden earlier this month did little: nearly three in four said it had no impact on their presidential choice. And only about one in five (22%) said it made them more likely to vote for Biden. About one in eight (13%) believe Sanders should not do anything to help Biden win in November, but most Sanders voters say he should (51%), though some would like to see concessions from Biden (20%).

Challenging President Trump’s economic strength

But while Biden has some control over these potential problems, he struggles to build a contrast between himself and the President on one issue that may determine the election: economic recovery. 

Fewer registered voters lack confidence in Biden’s ability to handle the coronavirus outbreak than lack confidence in the President’s ability to do this, but when it comes to the economy, President Trump fares better than Biden.

Presidential politics

When registered voters are asked to name the country’s most important issue, “jobs and the economy” is now nearly tied with “healthcare” in importance. About a quarter (27%) of registered voters cite health care as their most important issue, and 24 percent choose jobs and the economy. 

Even during what most Americans see as a recession, the President continues to have his highest rating on his handling of the economy. When it comes to his overall handling of the job, 42% approve and 50% disapprove (among registered voters 53% disapprove). Opinions about the President’s performance handling the coronavirus outbreak are similar. Overall, 45% approve and 49% disapprove; among registered voters, 46% approve while 51% do not.  

Majorities have long-approved of how President Trump is handling the economy. That level of approval has not changed in the last few months. About half (52%) of the public overall, and most registered voters (54%) approve of how the President is handling the economy.

That remains, even as the share of the public who believe the economy is getting worse has inched up again, to 58%, its highest level during the Trump Administration. 

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

Related: How Fox News viewers see hydroxychloroquine differently than the rest of America

Image: Getty