Surveys show Donald Trump trailing Joe Biden ahead of polls as US grapples with COVID-19, anti-racism protests

Though outwardly confident, Donald Trump has privately told advisers he cannot believe polls that show him trailing and he has angrily snapped at campaign manager Brad Parscale over the state of the race.

FP Staff June 11, 2020 12:10:08 IST
Surveys show Donald Trump trailing Joe Biden ahead of polls as US grapples with COVID-19, anti-racism protests

Donald Trump is still not a popular man.

Less than five months before voters will decide his fate, the US president is confronting a vastly different political reality than he once envisioned. If the election were held today, Trump would likely lose.

As the US grapples with the fallout over the death of George Floyd and the coronavirus pandemic, a flood of new polls spell trouble for the 45th President of the United States and show former vice-president Joe Biden well on course to occupy the Oval Office.

Approval rating slides

On Wednesday, the pollster Gallup showed Trump's approval rating sliding to 39 percent in a poll taken between 28 May and 4 June — one point below his term average of 40 — from an all-time high of 49 percent the previous months, the best marks voters ever gave his presidency.

As per the pollster, Trump's job approval rating has fallen significantly among all groups (and by similar margins): a seven-point drop among Republicans and Independents (to 85 percent and 39 percent respectively) and a nine-point fall among Democrats (to five percent).

Despite Trump's boasts about being the most popular president among Republicans in history, his approval rating among them is the lowest it has been since September 2018.

Significantly, Trump has never cracked the 50 percent ceiling during his term, a once unthinkable notion for an incumbent, who at least enjoys a "honeymoon period" at the outset of taking office.

Surveys show Donald Trump trailing Joe Biden ahead of polls as US grapples with COVID19 antiracism protests

File image of US president Donald Trump. AP

Trump on par with Carter, HW

A CNN/SSRS poll released on Monday similarly shows Trump's approval rating slipping seven points in the past month.  Only 38 percent approve of the way Trump is handling the presidency (that sounds familiar) and 57 percent disapprove.

This polling came just days after former defence secretary James Mattis issued a stunning rebuke of the president and denounced Trump as a "threat to the US Constitution" after peaceful protesters outside the White House were gassed and dispersed so the president could engage in a photo-op.

A stung Trump, who has in the past expressed great admiration for men in uniform and called the US' top military commanders "my generals" quickly fired back, calling Mattis the "world's most overrated general."

As CNN notes, that's Trump's worst approval rating in their poll since January 2019, and is at part with the approval ratings Jimmy Carter and George HW Bush, both of whom went on to lose after one term, saw at this point in their reelection bids. The poll also found the public souring on Trump's handling of race relations (63 percent disapprove) and 65 percent of respondents saying his response has been more harmful than helpful.

Biden, the same poll shows, has widened the gap between himself and the incumbent to an incredible 14 points and leads Trump 55 to 41 among registered voters. Trump, predictably, has taken this news as well as expected, sending CNN a cease-and-desist letter and demanding that it  retract its 'phony poll'.

'Out of control'

A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll revealed that eight of 10 voters — worried about the economy and the coronavirus and Trump's seeming inability to repair tensions amid the Floyd protests — believed things were "out of control". This figure includes 92 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of Independents and 66 percent of Republicans.

"Out of control — that's America in 2020," said Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates, who helped conduct the survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff and his GOP colleagues at Public Opinion Strategies. It's "one of the few things Americans can agree upon and the one finding that we can definitively state given the tumult and torment of the past 12 days," Horwitt said.

The poll shows Biden ahead of Trump by seven points, a now familiar figure, among all registered voters. Biden handily beats Trump on dealing with the coronavirus (48 percent to 37 percent) and healthcare and (49 percent to 34 percent) although Trump has a wide margin when it comes to dealing the economy (48 percent to 37 percent) and cutting the unemployment rate (48 percent to 35 percent).

Biden widens lead 

A recent poll by Fox News  with whom the president seems to be engaged in what can only be described as a lovers' spat  — showed more bad news for Trump. When it comes to a straight-up contest, Biden leads Trump 48 to 40 percent, an advantage that is outside the poll's margin of error.

Biden also trounces Trump when it comes to healthcare and the coronavirus , leading by 17 and 9 points respectively, as per the poll and leads Trump by a healthy amount when it comes to relations with China (six percent). Trump, though, edges Biden out on the subject of the economy, leading by a slender 3-point margin.

Trump, lashed out at the news channel after this poll was published, said Fox News should "fire their fake pollster".

Trump, who recently mused without evidence about a 75-year-old protester in Buffalo, who fell and began bleeding after being pushed by police, as an "Antifa provocateur", in a rather public snub tagged Fox News competitor One America News Network.

Robert Herring, the chief of the news network, offered an overture to the White House, taking to Twitter to claim his network would be publishing a voter survey that Trump might find more palatable. “@OANN will be releasing a poll concerning the 2020 presidential race,” Herring wrote on Twitter. “It looks as though it will be in favor of @realDonaldTrump.”

A spokeswoman for One America News, Krista McClelland, said the network would broadcast results from a poll of Florida residents. She said the network “uses a third-party polling service” but did not specify which one.  The firm’s leader, John McLaughlin, is a trusted voice for Trump who helped him explore a possible presidential bid in 2011. McLaughlin later worked for Trump’s 2016 campaign and is one of two pollsters currently working for the president’s 2020 reelection effort.

Still no word on that poll.

Trump gets band back together

Though outwardly confident, Trump has privately told advisers he cannot believe polls that show him trailing and he has angrily snapped at campaign manager Brad Parscale over the state of the race.

And Trump's remedy for what ails his campaign? Nostalgia. Trump has in recent days signed off on hiring a number of his 2016 veterans for his 2020 campaign, a reenlistment of loyalists that follows he return of other members of his original team to the West Wing.

In the last week, the Trump campaign hired Jason Miller, communications director in 2016, to focus on strategy and coordinate between the campaign and the White House. Miller has co-hosted a pro-Trump podcast with the president's former campaign chief executive, Steve Bannon. Hope Hicks was Trump's original campaign spokeswoman before becoming one of his most trusted West Wing aides. She left the White House in 2018 only to return two years later and was one of the driving forces behind the president's controversial photo op with a Bible after he walked through Lafayette Square last week to a nearby church once the area was cleared of protesters.

Johnny McEntee, who served as Trump's personal aide before being fired by then-chief of staff John Kelly in 2018, returned in January and has been focusing on staffing the administration with loyalists. While Corey Lewandowski, Trump's first campaign manager, and David Bossie, a trusted aide, have both remained officially outside the campaign, they have attended several recent strategy sessions and have been spotted on Air Force One and at the president's golf clubs.

"It's fantastic to have the 2016 group back together, but the facts are the facts. He barely won and he has done nothing at all to grow out his support," said Sam Nunberg, who advised Trump early in his first campaign. "He can't win on nostalgia. It's not the same race. This is not going to be about slogans or themes, it's going to be about what you did for me and why I should reelect you based on your record."

Nunberg, an informal advisor, will not be rejoining the campaign for 2020.

With inputs from AP

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