The poll also shows pessimism about the economy growing, a factor that could help Biden and hurt Trump in the poll.
The latest Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll finds Biden getting 55 percent support, versus 45 percent for Trump. Biden has 96 percent support from Democrats, while Trump has 89 percent support from Republicans. Independents break for Biden by a 54 to 46 percent margin.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has yet to drop out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, also leads Trump, winning 53 percent to Trump’s 47 percent. However, Biden has a near-insurmountable lead in delegates over Sanders. Biden leads Sanders among Democrats nationally by 36 points, 58 to 31 percent.
The president’s job approval rating is at 48 percent positive and 52 percent negative, just off its all-time high of 49 percent positive.
The coronavirus is by far the biggest issue on the minds of voters, and 50 percent said they approve of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus.
A strong majority, 72 percent, said they’re watching the daily White House press briefings. A plurality of those, 43 percent, said the briefings have given them a more favorable view of Trump. Thirty-seven percent said the briefings make them view Trump less favorably.
“While attitudes toward the economy are tanking, politics seem almost frozen in time,” said Harvard CAPS-Harris polling director Mark Penn. “Trump is gaining in approval but people are taking a very wait and see attitude with handling the virus the determining factor. The presidential horse race remains unchanged but not sure it is very meaningful at this point — it’s the Democratic primary that is now locked with Biden as the candidate but the overall race remains in flux.”
Views of the economy are deteriorating fast.
Fifty-five percent said the economy is on the wrong track, compared to only 41 percent who said the same last month. Forty-three percent said the economy is weak, a massive swing from the 70 percent who described it as strong last month. Fifty-five percent said they expect a recession in the near future and the same number said they’ve experienced a decrease in income because of the virus.
“The plunge in economic satisfaction is the biggest shift I’ve seen in decades of polling,” Penn said.
Still, 54 percent approve of Trump’s handling of the economy.
Fifty-eight percent said they support a balanced approach to addressing the coronavirus aimed at stopping infections and preserving jobs. That figure breaks along partisan lines, with 51 percent of Democrats saying that the government’s only concern should be minimizing infections, against 67 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of independents who support the balanced approach.
Trump is eager to reopen the economy, saying last week that he hoped things could begin returning to normal by April 12. However, on Sunday, the president announced federal guidelines urging Americans to avoid nonessential travel and in-person gatherings would be extended until at least the end of April.
About two out of three voters believe Republicans and Democrats are playing partisan games with the coronavirus.
The Democrats get the most blame, with 37 percent of respondents saying they are politicizing the fight, compared to 23 percent who say Republicans are politicizing the issue.
Sixty percent of voters said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been too partisan, compared to 52 percent who said the same of Trump.
“Pelosi and the Democrats … are seen as acting in ways more partisan than the president and they need to take heed of that trend,” Penn said.
The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll of 2,410 registered voters was conducted between March 24 to March 26 and has a 2 percentage point margin of error.
Results were weighted for age within gender, region, race/ethnicity, marital status, household size, income, employment, education, political party and political ideology where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.