Voters increasingly confident that Biden would handle COVID-19 better than Trump

Linley SandersData Journalist
October 20, 2020, 7:00 PM UTC

As the election nears, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has solidified his advantage over President Donald Trump as the candidate who can best handle America’s COVID-19 pandemic. 

The latest Yahoo News/YouGov Poll, conducted October 16-18, comes as the United States approaches 220,000 reported deaths from the coronavirus outbreak and reaches record-levels of new daily cases. As coronavirus infections rise across the country, Americans have taken notice. This week, around three in five (63%) registered voters say the “number of cases is increasing," up sharply from 57% last week and 48% the week before. 

Alongside registered voters’ increased awareness of the disease’s spread comes a belief from three in five (60%) that the situation will only worsen in the fall and winter. One-quarter (25%) see no change in sight, and just 15% say matters will improve as temperatures cool.   

Republicans reflect more optimism (27%) than Independents (13%) and Democrats (7%) that the virus’ spread will get better over the next few months. But a narrow plurality of Trump’s party (38%), in addition to a majority of Independents (59%) and Democrats (78%), believe it will only worsen. 

Amid this, registered voters are increasingly confident that Biden is the better alternative to Trump on handling the epidemic. Biden's lead over Trump on who would do a better job of handling coronavirus grew to a 19-point margin this week (52% to 33%). That’s a five-point jump from last week (48% to 34%) and nearly double the margin from two weeks ago (45% to 38%). 

A majority of registered voters have steadily disapproved of President Trump's coronavirus job performance in recent months. This week, a majority (56%) registered voters disapprove of how he’s handling the pandemic, compared to two in five (40%) who approve. That disapproval number is unchanged from last week and only slightly higher than his average rating in August and September. 

As Biden strengthens his stance on COVID-19 against Trump, he also boasts an 11-point margin over the incumbent (51% vs 40%) on the question of who likely voters intend to cast their ballot for — the widest-ever margin yet for a Yahoo News/YouGov Poll.  

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 1,583 U.S. registered voters interviewed online between October 16 – 18, 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 4.0%   

Image: Getty