The Slatest

Biden Lead Widens as Most Americans Think Trump Could Have Avoided the Coronavirus

Trump and Mark Meadows, both wearing masks, step off a helicopter.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows watches as President Donald Trump walks off Marine One while arriving at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, on Friday. Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Some of President Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters have gathered outside Walter Reed to express their support for the commander in chief. But for Americans at large, there doesn’t seem to be much sympathy for the president, and the vast majority believe he could have avoided contracting COVID-19 had he only taken the appropriate precautions. Almost 3 in 4 Americans—72 percent to be exact—said that Trump neither took the “risk of contracting the virus seriously enough” nor “the appropriate precautions when it came to his personal health,” according to an ABC News–Ipsos poll.

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A Reuters-Ipsos poll, meanwhile, found that 65 percent of Americans agreed with the statement that “if President Trump had taken coronavirus more seriously, he probably would not have been infected.” Even though there is a big partisan split in the answers to the question, with 9 in 10 registered Democrats agreeing with that statement, 5 in 10 Republicans also said they see it that way.

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As Trump continues to battle the virus, Americans are increasingly concerned about the possibility of contracting COVID-19. Overall, 81 percent of Americans say they are very or somewhat concerned about contracting the virus, an almost 10-point increase from two weeks ago. That increase is largely evident among Republicans, whose concern soared 18 points, according to the ABC-Ipsos poll. Amid that growing concern, there seems to be little trust in what the president is saying about the pandemic. Only 34 percent of Americans said they thought Trump was telling them the truth about COVID-19, compared with 55 percent who said the opposite, according to the Reuters-Ipsos poll. Along those lines, only 35 percent said they approved of the way the president has handled the pandemic, according to the ABC poll.

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Amid the growing concern about the pandemic, Joe Biden’s lead nationally appears to be widening. Among registered voters, Biden now has a 14-point lead over Trump—53 percent to 39 percent—according to a Wall Street JournalNBC News poll that was taken after Tuesday’s presidential debate but before Trump tested positive for COVID-19. That marks a sharp increase from the 8-point lead Biden enjoyed before the debate and is higher than the 11-point lead in July that marked a high point for the poll. Trump’s sharpest drops in support came from senior citizens, who are backing Biden 62 percent to 35 percent, and suburban women, who are siding with Biden 58 percent to 33 percent. Women in general favor Biden by a whopping 27 percentage points.

The debate seems to have also made voters in two key states reconsider their votes for Trump as Biden leads in the swing states of Florida and Pennsylvania. According to a New York Times–Siena College poll, Biden leads Trump by 5 points in Florida—47 percent to 42 percent—and 7 points in Pennsylvania—49 percent to 42 percent. Only 21 percent of likely voters in the two states said Trump won the debate.

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