Former Vice President Joe Biden has a 10-point lead over President Donald Trump in the contest for the White House in a new national poll of likely voters released today by the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion.
Including the minor party candidates on the ballot, Biden leads with 53 percent of likely voters, Trump has 43 percent, other candidates are at 2 percent and only 3 percent of likely voters say they are still undecided, according to the independent, nonpartisan poll.
The relatively low number of undecided voters is underscored by the fact that 16 percent of likely voters have already voted. Just over two-thirds of voters said they plan to eschew their traditional Election Day polling place in 2020 and either vote by mail (45 percent) or vote early in person (22 percent).
“Biden’s double-digit lead signals that the president’s hopes of re-election are dwindling, with less than three weeks until Election Day and many voters already voting early and by mail,” said Joshua Dyck, director of the Center for Public Opinion and associate professor of political science.
Biden leads Trump among voters with a college degree, 62 percent to 36 percent. Among those without a bachelor’s degree, Biden leads 49 percent to Trump’s 46 percent. However, among white respondents without a degree, Trump leads Biden 61 percent to 36 percent, while Biden leads Trump among whites with a college degree 60 percent to 38 percent.
The gender gap revealed in this poll is on par with historic averages from the 2012 and 2016 elections in the difference between male and female voters’ support for Democratic candidates. In this poll, Biden does about 10 points better among women than men, leading 57 percent to 38 percent among women who are likely voters and 49 percent to 48 percent among men likely voters.
While Trump trails Biden by double digits nationally, his approval rating has not undergone a precipitous decline, which has hovered between an average of 40 and 45 percent nationally for most of the last three years. Overall, 44 percent of likely voters approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president and 56 percent disapprove. But nearly half of the electorate (47 percent of likely voters) say they strongly disapprove of the way the president has handled his job.
Because there’s no corresponding job approval rating for Biden, the point of comparison for the candidates is favorability rating. In 2016, both candidates – Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – had net negative approval ratings in polling averages heading into the election. In 2020, the pattern is different: Trump continues to have a net negative favorability rating of -13; 42 percent find him favorable, 55 percent unfavorable and 3 percent have no opinion. Biden, however, is net positive +9; 50 percent find him favorable, 41 percent unfavorable and 9 percent have no opinion. Clinton is still net negative at -17 (35 percent favorable, 52 percent unfavorable, 12 percent no opinion), which indicates that Democrats have a much more popular nominee in 2020.
With Trump’s coronavirus-positive diagnosis on Oct. 2, the campaign became fully focused once again on the president’s handling of COVID-19. Overall, a majority of likely voters polled (57 percent) are not satisfied with the way the federal government has handled the pandemic, compared to 43 percent who said they are satisfied. This stands in stark contrast to state governments that get much higher marks: 59 percent of Americans said they are satisfied with their state government’s response compared to 41 percent who said they are unsatisfied.
Asked who they trust more to handle COVID-19, 52 percent of likely voters say Biden compared to 36 percent of likely voters who said Trump. On the question of whether Trump could have avoided contracting COVID-19 by wearing a mask more often, 71 percent of likely voters said yes while 29 percent said no.
“With the total American dead from the virus approaching a quarter-million by Election Day, voters are frustrated by Trump’s response to the virus, both personally and as president. Unfortunately for the president, there’s no miracle cure for his dismal poll numbers on the pandemic,” said John Cluverius, associate director of the Center for Public Opinion and assistant professor of political science.
The poll of likely voters also found:
With Supreme Court hearings taking place this week, nominee Amy Coney Barrett has a -1 net negative favorability rating among likely voters – 31 percent favorable, 32 percent unfavorable, 25 percent no opinion and 12 percent never heard of her.
Asked who they think will win the 2020 presidential election, likely voters gave Biden the edge: 45 percent said Biden will win and 41 percent said Trump will win.
Asked about a hypothetical alternative matchup, Biden leads Pence 54 percent to 41 percent with 4 percent undecided. Harris leads Pence 50 percent to 43 percent with 6 percent undecided.
Just 30 percent of Americans think things are headed in the right direction, while 70 percent say things are on the wrong track.
On Trump’s signature issue, the economy, 47 percent said Biden is better suited to handle the economy, compared to 42 percent who said Trump.
On who best represents American values, Biden leads Trump 48 percent to 37 percent. Biden also leads Trump on who is a more devout Christian, 39 percent to 29 percent. Asked who is more of a good man, 50 percent said Biden compared to 31 percent who said Trump.
More respondents said Biden would be better suited to handle race relations, 49 percent to 34 percent for Trump and more feel Biden is more honest and trustworthy, 49 percent to 32 percent for Trump.
On who will better handle America’s reputation abroad, Biden leads 51 percent to 37 percent for Trump. On who is better suited to handle police reform, 46 percent said Biden and 38 percent said Trump. Fifty-one percent said Biden is more suited to handling health care compared to 35 percent who said Trump.
Trump leads Biden on only two metrics on which respondents were polled: who is more of a bully (67 percent said Trump vs. 16 percent who said Biden) and who is more corrupt (50 percent said Trump compared to 34 percent who said Biden).
The nonpartisan poll of 819 likely voters was independently funded by the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The Center for Public Opinion presents events and polling on political and social issues to provide opportunities for civic engagement, experiential learning and real-world research. The center is a member of the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) Transparency Initiative.
The survey was designed and analyzed by the Center for Public Opinion and fielded by YouGov from Oct. 5 through Oct. 12. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent. Detailed poll results – including topline and full methodology – are available at http://www.uml.edu/polls.
UMass Lowell is a national research university offering its more than 18,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the globe.