On the opening day of the Democratic National Convention, former Vice President Joe Biden, bolstered by the selection of California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate, has surged to an 11-point lead over President Trump, according to a Yahoo News/YouGov poll. It is Biden’s largest margin to date.
For months, Biden’s lead hovered in the high single digits. But according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov survey, which was conducted Aug. 14 and 15, Trump’s faltering coronavirus response and unpopular crusade against universal mail-in voting have further weakened his standing, propelling Biden to his first double-digit lead of the campaign.
Among registered voters, Biden now outpaces Trump 49 percent to 38 percent. Among likely voters, Biden is ahead 50 percent to 41 percent. In comparison, Hillary Clinton led Trump by an average of less than 3 percentage points right before the 2016 conventions.
So far, Harris’s presence on the Democratic ticket appears to have helped Biden. Forty-seven percent of registered voters rate Harris as an “excellent” or “good” choice — significantly more than the number who felt the same about 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine (35 percent) or 2016 Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence (37 percent), according to Gallup.
Among Democrats, 70 percent say Harris was the right pick; only 9 percent disagree. Despite some grumbling on the left that Harris is too moderate, less than a quarter of Democrats (23 percent) would have preferred progressive Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Overall, 21 percent of registered voters say Harris makes them more likely to vote for the Democratic ticket in November, outnumbering the 18 percent who say the opposite.
Trump and other Republicans have tried to characterize Harris as too liberal or even “radical” for America, but the blows do not seem to be landing. Just 30 percent of registered voters — nearly all of them Republicans — see Harris as a radical; even fewer (22 percent) believe she is “the most liberal person in the U.S. Senate,” as Trump claimed last week. (The evidence for that is ambiguous.)
Instead, more registered voters say Harris is “moderate” (19 percent) than say the same about Trump (15 percent) or Pence (9 percent). A full third (33 percent) consider Biden moderate. Harris’s favorability rating (46 percent) also exceeds Trump’s (42 percent) and Pence’s (40 percent), and registered voters are just as likely to say that Harris is ready for the presidency as Pence (44 percent).
It’s possible, in fact, that some of Trump’s heated attacks on Harris may backfire. When asked whether the president “respects women,” only 32 percent of registered voters say yes. A majority (59 percent) says no. Even a third of Republicans say that Trump doesn’t respect women, or that they’re not sure. When asked about the president’s recent description of Harris as a “nasty woman,” half of registered voters (50 percent) say that it “shows Trump is a sexist.”
Meanwhile, 61 percent of voters oppose Trump’s push to block funding for the United States Postal Service in order to hinder universal mail-in voting, which states have sought to expand for safety reasons during the pandemic — an expansion that Trump fears will benefit Democrats.
Trump’s response to the pandemic is not helping matters. Dissatisfaction with the president’s handling of COVID-19 continues to rise, with 59 percent of Americans now disapproving and only 36 percent approving — his weakest numbers to date. The president’s coronavirus rating is even worse (27 percent approve, 66 percent disapprove) with non-leaning independents — that is, independents who don’t yet express even a slight preference for either candidate — and with those who are undecided or who say they might change their mind about their presidential vote (32 percent approve, 64 percent disapprove). That’s an indication that Trump’s political fortunes are directly tied to the pandemic.
Asked whether things in the U.S. have generally gotten better or worse over the last four years, registered voters say by an overwhelming margin — 64 percent to 27 percent — that things have gotten worse. More than a third (36 percent) of Republicans agree.
This may explain Biden’s growing lead. According to the poll, 7 percent of 2016 Trump voters now say they will vote Democratic in November; only 1 percent of 2016 Clinton voters say they will vote Republican. Democrats are also picking up support among people who didn’t cast ballots in 2016 but intend to vote in 2020, with Biden leading 47 percent to 23 percent in this category — a lead that expands (61 percent to 10 percent) among those who were too young to vote in 2016.
The Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,529 U.S. adult residents interviewed online Aug. 14 and 15, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race and education, as well as 2016 presidential vote, registration status, geographic region and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S residents. The margin of error is approximately 3.4 percent.
Cover thumbnail photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
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