By Chris Kahn
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has opened up a 13-point lead over President Donald Trump – the widest margin this year – according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll as Americans grow more critical of Trump over the coronavirus pandemic and protests against police brutality.
In the June 10-16 poll, 48% of registered voters said they would back Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, in the Nov. 3 election, while 35% said they would support Trump.
Biden’s advantage is the biggest recorded by the Reuters/Ipsos poll since Democrats began their state nominating contests this year to pick their party’s nominee to challenge Trump in November. A similar CNN poll from earlier this month showed Biden with a 14-point lead over Trump among registered voters.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll also showed that 57% of U.S. adults disapproved of Trump’s performance in office, while just 38% approved, marking Trump’s lowest approval rating since November, when Congress was conducting its impeachment inquiry into the Republican president.
In a clear warning sign for Trump, his own support base appears to be eroding. Republicans’ net approval of Trump is down 13 points from March to June, declining every month in that span.
The shift in opinion comes as Americans are whipsawed by the coronavirus pandemic, the ensuing economic collapse and the outpouring of anger and frustration following numerous deadly confrontations between police and African Americans, including the death last month of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.
Trump, who dismissed the threat of the coronavirus early on, sparred with state governors as they tried to slow its spread and has pushed authorities to allow businesses to reopen despite warnings from health experts about increasing risks of transmission.
More than 116,000 people in the United States have died from the virus and more than 2.1 million people have been infected, by far the most in the world. Some states that have reopened such as Florida, Arizona and Texas are seeing a jump in cases.
Altogether, 55% of Americans said they disapproved of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, while 40% approved, which is the lowest net approval for the president on the subject since Reuters/Ipsos started tracking the question in early March.
TRUMP EDGE ON ECONOMY
The president also has been criticized for the way he has responded to the protests that were sparked by Floyd’s killing.
While nearly two thirds of respondents sympathized with the protesters, according to the poll, Trump has openly flirted with deploying the military to “dominate” them. Earlier this month, police in Washington forcibly removed peaceful protesters so that Trump could pose for photographs in front of a church near the White House.
As businesses shuttered across the country because of coronavirus lockdowns, Americans have increasingly turned their focus to the economy and jobs as a top concern.
In that area, Trump still has the upper hand over Biden. Forty-three percent of registered voters said they thought Trump would be a better steward of the economy than Biden, while 38% said Biden would be better.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. The poll gathered responses from 4,426 American adults, including 2,047 Democrats and 1,593 Republicans. The poll had a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Reporting by Chris Kahn; Editing by Soyoung Kim and Peter Cooney.