Biden leads Trump in new poll, but voters believe incumbent can bring back the economy

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In a file photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on September 16, 2020, in Washington, D.C. - Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS

Democratic candidate Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in a new poll that finds voters still think the incumbent is better qualified to bring back the nation’s anemic economy, which is in recession as the nation struggles to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll that surveyed 1,152 adults between Sept. 11 and Sept. 16 found Biden leads Trump overall with 52% of the vote compared to the president’s 42%. That margin tightens slightly when third party candidates are included in the polling.

The poll shows that Biden holds a commanding lead over Trump when it comes to race relations and the handling of coronavirus. Data also indicates the former vice president won over 49% of potential voters on the topic of crime, compared with Trump’s 45%, despite Trump’s push to establish himself as a “law and order president.”

But when it comes to the economy, 50% or those polled believe Trump is better qualified to manage the nation’s finances as opposed to Biden’s 46% with participants listing economic recovery as their chief concern.

Of those asked, one in five said the economy was the issue they found most important, with only 13% listing COVID-19 as their top priority and 8% claiming race as a primary concern.

Attitudes about racial injustice protests were closely divided with 48% of the public believing the marches have been legitimate and 45% considering demonstrators’ actions “mostly unlawful.”

In August, 53% of respondents said the protests that started after the May 25 death of Minnesotan George Floyd in police custody were legitimate while only 38% considered them unlawful.

The president scored well with white Evangelical males and men who don’t have a college degree. Biden scored big with women across the board, particularly educated white females.

Of voters planning to vote for Biden, 50% cite support for his candidacy while 45% said they are voting in opposition to Trump. Trump’s job approval rating is 40% with 29% of respondents strongly approving. Pollsters found that 42% of participants strongly disapprove of the president’s performance.

The coronavirus pandemic has killed 198,000 Americans, according to the CDC. Unemployment fell from 10.2% to 8.4% in August as states began to reopen.

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