Poll: Biden Stretches Lead over Trump to 16 Points after Debate, COVID Diagnosis

Then-president Donald Trump and then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speak during the first 2020 presidential campaign debate in Cleveland, Ohio, September 29, 2020. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has a 16-point lead over President Trump with Election Day less than a month away, according to a new poll conducted after the first presidential debate and Trump’s COVID diagnosis.

Fifty-seven percent of likely voters said they supported the former vice president while 41 percent backed Trump in a nationwide CNN poll conducted by SSRS between October 1 and 4 — after the first presidential debate and largely after the president announced he had contracted the coronavirus.

A RealClearPolitics average of national polls shows Biden with a 9.2 point advantage with 28 days left before the November 3 election.

Biden also has a lead in several swing states, on which the election ultimately rests, though by a smaller margin than his national advantage, according to CNN.

The former vice president has also improved his favorability rating, with 52 percent of Americans saying they have a positive view of Biden, compared to 39 percent who said the same of Trump.

Likely voters considered Biden to be the candidate who has a clear plan to solve the country’s problems (55 percent to 39 percent), who would keep Americans safe from harm (55 percent to 43 percent), and who would be better equipped to handle racial inequality in America (62 percent to 36 percent). 

The two candidates came closest on the economy, which 50 percent said Biden would handle better, while 48 percent said Trump.

While comparisons to an earlier CNN survey show Biden has made gains in support among women, particularly white women with college degrees and women of color, as well as people of color generally, the president’s supporters have remained as supportive as ever. 

It is possible the debate may have helped Biden’s lead, as 57 percent of voters believed Biden had done the best job in the candidates’ first meeting, while only 26 percent said Trump was best. Fourteen percent believed neither candidate did well.

Fifty-four percent of likely voters said they would cast their ballots on Election Day, while 30 percent plan to vote by mail and another 14 percent said they would vote early in-person. Biden supports are more likely to say they will vote ahead of the election, with 41 percent planning to vote by mail and 19 percent saying they intend to vote early.

By contrast, 76 percent of the president’s supporters said they would vote in-person on Election Day.

Thirty-three percent of adults identified as Democrats, while 28 percent identified as Republicans. Among registered voters those numbers changed to 35 percent Democrats, 30 percent Republicans.

The CNN Poll surveyed a random national sample of 1,205 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer, including 1,001 likely voters. Results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points for the full sample and plus or minus 3.6 points for likely voters.

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