Yahoo News/YouGov: which candidate would better handle the big issues facing America?

Jamie BallardFreelance Data Journalist
October 15, 2020, 12:00 PM GMT+0

With less than one month left before the presidential election, here’s what likely voters think about which candidate is better prepared to handle the biggest issues facing the US, according to the latest figures from Yahoo News/YouGov.  

Coronavirus pandemic 

About half (49%) of likely voters say they believe Joe Biden would do a better job of handling the coronavirus pandemic, while 36% say Trump would do a better job. About one in eight (12%) believe they would do an equally good job.   

It’s not surprising that nearly all Democrats (91%) believe Biden is better prepared to handle the pandemic, while the large majority (76%) of Republicans say the same of Trump. Independents are nearly evenly split: 38% say Biden would do a better job handling COVID while 34% think Trump would be better.  

Race relations  

Among likely voters, Biden (51%) comes out ahead of Trump (33%) on the topic of race relations. One in 10 likely voters think they would be about the same. Democrats (89%) tend to favor Biden as do Independents (by 40% to 30%). About one in five (19%) Independents believes the candidates would be tied. Among Republicans, about three-quarters (74%) believe the president would handle race relations better.   

The economy  

The economy continues to be an area of strength for Donald Trump. Likely voters believe that he is better equipped to handle the economy than Biden by 48% to 42%.  

Democrats (83%) see Biden as being better prepared to handle the economy, but Republicans (93%) and Independents (54%) think that Trump has greater expertise in this area. About a quarter (27%) of Independents say Biden would do a better job, and 13% of this group believe the candidates would be about the same.  


Likely voters are nearly evenly split (46% to 44%) on whether Biden or Trump would handle the issue of immigration better. Republicans (88%) give the advantage to Trump as do Independents (by 46% to 29%), while very few Democrats (6%) believe the president best placed to deal with the subject. Unsurprisingly, most Democrats (86%) say that Biden would do a better job on this measure.  

Foreign policy 

On the topic of foreign policy, likely voters tend to give Biden the advantage, though not by a wide margin. While 47% think the Democratic nominee would do a better job, 40% believe Trump would be better.  

Independents are virtually tied: 38% think Trump would handle foreign policy better, while 36% believe that Biden would. Another 15% say the two would be about the same in their approach to international affairs. Democrats (88%) back Biden on this subject, while Republicans (84%) think Trump would be the better choice.  


Trump has touted himself as being tough on crime, but voters are divided. About four in 10 (43%) think that he would do a better job of handling crime, but just as many (42%) think that Biden would do a better job. One in 10 likely voters say they would be about the same when it comes to handling crime.  

The Trump campaign’s law-and-order messaging appears to have resonated with many Independents. By 45% to 29%, Independents see Trump as being better equipped to handle crime. Democrats and Republicans fall along predictable splits, with 80% of Democrats backing Biden and 86% of Republicans backing Trump.   

Supreme Court  

Since Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death nearly a month ago, there has been much discussion on both sides of the aisle about the future of the Supreme Court. Likely voters are slightly more inclined to think Biden (46%) would do a better job handling the Supreme Court, but 41% believe Trump would be better.  

Democrats and Republicans fall along predictable lines, with 87% of Democrats choosing Biden and 88% of Republicans choosing Trump. Independents are slightly more likely to say Trump would be the better choice (39% vs 34%).  

Keeping Americans safe 

Trump’s campaign has made the argument that America would become a dangerous place if Biden wins the election. Voters are split in their agreement. Close to half (47%) say that they believe Biden would do a better job of keeping Americans safe. But a similar number (43%) say that Trump would be the better pick for this.  

Republicans (88%) give the advantage to Trump as do Independents (by 45% to 33%), while very few Democrats (4%) believe the president best placed to keep people in this country safe. Unsurprisingly, most Democrats (88%) say that Biden would do a better job on this measure. 

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

Methodology: The Yahoo! News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,525 U.S. registered voters interviewed online between October 9-11, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. The margin of error for the sample was 4.3%   

Image: Getty