The contours of the of the 2020 presidential election have been changing, according to results from the latest Economist/YouGov Poll.
Last week, former Vice President Joe Biden secured enough delegates to earn the Democratic Presidential nomination. That, along with negative public reaction to President Donald Trump’s handling of continuing protests about the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, has worked to the benefit of the challenger.
Biden continues to enjoy a lead over Donald Trump, as he has for weeks, but is now is marginally ahead among political Independents. Biden also has narrowed the margin on a question about the prospect of electoral success: this week nearly as many think Biden will win as believe Trump will.
This week, 90 percent of Democrats say they will vote for Biden; 88 percent of Republicans say they would vote to re-elect Trump.
In the last two weeks, Independent voters have changed the most when it comes to their expectations of what will happen when the votes are counted. Two weeks ago Independents gave the president a 20-point margin on the question of who will be elected. Now the president’s margin has dropped to just eight points among Independents: 40 percent now believe the president will win, and 32 percent think Biden will.
The increasing expectation of Biden’s success has affected perceptions of other possible Democratic victories. For the first time, as many voters expect Democrats to win majority control of the Senate as say the Republicans will keep control. Three-quarters of registered Democrats this week expect their party to take control, up ten points in the last week.
Democrats were always seen as more likely to retain control in the House of Representatives, but the public -- as well as registered Democrats -- have become even more positive than before. Last week, 75 percent of registered Democrats believed their party would retain control, and this week it increased nine points to 83 percent. Nearly half (49%) of registered voters think the Democrats will retain control, while 32 percent say the GOP will win control – a 17-point difference.
WHO’ S WINNING ON THE ECONOMY?
The president has consistently been considered stronger than Biden when it comes to the economy. This week, however, his approval rating on jobs and the economy slipped below 50 percent, to 48 percent. And he has little advantage over Biden as the candidate who will improve the economy. There is no overall difference between Biden and Trump on what American voters believe will happen to the economy if either man is elected, which marks a change from prior polls where Trump had the advantage.
Americans’ views about the state of the economy improved this week, perhaps due to the (slightly lower) unemployment rate reported last Friday, just before this poll went into field. While a plurality still believes the economy is getting worse, that figure dropped from 54 percent last week to 47 percent now.
The president continues to get low marks on two other pressing problems: his handling of the coronavirus and his handling of the racial protests that have been so common in the last two weeks, after the killing of George Floyd. A majority disapprove of his handling of the protests (including a plurality of whites). Half the country disapproves of his handling of the coronavirus.