Fox News Poll: Biden holds lead over Trump as coronavirus concerns grip nation

Coronavirus infected the election.

The virus is the top issue to voters, over half of them disapprove of how President Trump’s handling it, and they increasingly trust Joe Biden to do a better job on it.  That keeps Biden ahead in the presidential race, according to a Fox News survey of registered voters.

Biden leads by 8 points over Trump, 49-41 percent.

That advantage is outside the margin of error. However, neither candidate receives 50 percent support and 10 percent are undecided/back someone else -- and the race has narrowed since June, when the former vice president was up by 12 points (50-38 percent).

There’s a large gender gap, as Trump is ahead by 5 points among men, while Biden is up 19 among women. Biden also leads among Blacks (+64), Hispanics (+30), millennials (+22), suburban voters (+11) and independents (+11).

Seven percent of those approving of Trump’s job performance back Biden.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE POLL RESULTS

Whites with a college degree (+3) and without a degree go for Trump (+9). He’s also the choice among White evangelical Christians (+43), rural voters (+9) and seniors (+1). Last month, seniors went for Biden by 10.

Biden is preferred over Trump among extremely motivated voters (+8 points), those extremely likely to vote (+9) and those who feel it is extremely important their candidate wins (+13).

However, the number of Biden supporters who are extremely likely to vote drops 25 points if the virus is hitting so hard in November as to, for instance, close restaurants. Because the drop-off would just be 16 points among Trump supporters, that puts Biden’s lead at just 3 points over the president in that still-raging coronavirus scenario.

The virus is a campaign issue -- but it could also be a factor, like bad weather, that reduces turnout. 

Meanwhile, in contrast to 2016 when voters viewed both candidates as unlikable, Biden garners a net +11 favorable rating: 54 percent view him favorably vs. 43 percent unfavorably.

For Trump, it’s 43 percent favorable vs. 56 percent unfavorable. That gives him a net -13 points. Indeed, nearly half, 47 percent, have a “strongly” unfavorable opinion compared to 31 percent for Biden.

Voters believe Trump lacks the key traits for the Oval Office: less than half think he has the mental soundness (43 percent), intelligence (42 percent), and judgment (40 percent) to serve effectively as president. For reference, 36 percent felt he had the necessary judgment in October 2016, less than a month before his election victory.

Biden bests Trump on each measure: 47 percent are confident in his mental soundness, 51 percent believe he has the intelligence and 52 percent say he has the judgment.

Notably, 50 percent eludes both candidates on mental soundness. Those ages 65+ think Trump has it by a 1-point margin and that Biden lacks it by 3 points.

The biggest trait difference is on compassion: 56 percent believe Biden has it compared to 36 percent for Trump.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

All that helps explain why more trust Biden to do a better job than Trump on race relations (+21) and coronavirus (+17 points).  Last month, more trusted Biden on the virus by 9 points.  The two are trusted about equally on the economy (Biden +1).  It was a 3-point Trump edge in May.

Twenty-nine percent rank coronavirus the No. 1 problem facing the country. That tops the 15 percent who cite the economy and 10 percent who say race relations.

Eighty-six percent are concerned about coronavirus spreading, and the number saying the virus is “not at all” under control jumped 18 points since last month, from 33 percent to 51 percent.

The president’s ratings are underwater by 13 points on the pandemic (43 percent approve, 56 percent disapprove) and by 21 points on race relations (35-56 percent).

His ratings on the economy split 47-47. That’s down from a high 56 percent approval in January and is only the fourth time he hasn’t received positive marks on the issue. Currently, just 26 percent say they are better off than four years ago and most, 69 percent, rate the economy negatively.

Trump’s overall job rating is upside-down by 9 points:  45 percent approve and 54 percent disapprove. Last month, it was 44-55 percent. His best ratings, 49-49 percent, came in April.

Voters favor a more aggressive response to the virus than the president.

Majorities favor a national stay-in-place order for everyone except essential workers (59 percent) and a national mask-wearing order for indoor spaces (71 percent).

Sixty-three percent favor letting Americans vote by mail during the pandemic. Democrats (82 percent) and independents (60 percent) like the idea, while Republicans split (43 favor, 47 oppose).

Two-thirds want children to attend public schools this fall in person, to some extent. That includes 15 percent who think their public schools should fully reopen as usual, 21 percent who prefer opening with social distancing and masks, and 31 percent who want a mix of in-person and remote. Twenty-five percent would prefer schools be fully remote.

Parents and nonparents hold similar views, but moms and dads with kids at home see things differently. Dads are more likely than moms to favor some kind of reopening (80 vs. 54 percent). Moms are more inclined than dads to support being fully remote (37 vs. 15 percent).

There’s also a partisan gap. More Republicans (84 percent) than Democrats (55 percent) say schools should reopen to some extent, while nearly four times as many Democrats (38 percent) as Republicans (10 percent) prefer fully remote.

By a 62-32 percent margin, voters favor continuing the extra $600/week unemployment benefit Congress passed in response to the pandemic. Most Democrats (78 percent) and a large minority of Republicans (46 percent) favor extending it.

More than twice as many voters think candidates should only hold virtual events right now (62 percent) as say it is okay to campaign in front of crowds (28 percent).

Pollpourri

The number predicting Trump will be reelected has dropped 11 points since February. At that time, 56 percent thought he would win. Now, 45 percent think so. The decline in reelection expectations comes from both Democrats (-13 points) and Republicans (-9).

Overall, 61 percent are satisfied with their candidate choices, but 33 percent think the ballot should include a “none of the above” option. More Trump supporters (73 percent) than Biden supporters (62 percent) are happy with their choices.

The largest portion of those backing both Biden (49 percent) and Trump (47 percent) say there is “no chance at all” they will change their vote. However, more of those supporting Trump (15 percent) than Biden (9 percent) say there is a “strong” chance they could change their mind.

Far more approve of the job infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci (74 percent) is doing on coronavirus than Trump’s performance (43 percent). Moreover, 44 percent “strongly” approve of Fauci, up from 37 percent in June.

Trump first wore a mask in public July 11.  Eighty-one percent of voters report wearing a mask all or most of the time when in public, up from 72 percent in May.  Ninety percent of Democrats and 71 percent of Republicans wear a mask.  Six percent of Republicans never wear one, down from 14 percent in May. Among Democrats, 1 percent say never, down from 3 percent.

Generally, 80 percent have a favorable opinion of people who wear masks (June 13-16, 2020).

Conducted July 12-15, 2020, under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company (R), this Fox News Poll includes interviews with 1,104 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide who spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for all registered voters.

Fox News’ Victoria Balara contributed to this report.