Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden listens as he meets with local residents at the sports bar Carlette?s Hideaway during a campaign stop in Yeadon, Pennsylvania U.S., June 17, 2020.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
Vice President Joe Biden has jumped out to a 9-point lead on President Donald Trump with five months to go until the election, but the CNBC All-America Economic Survey finds the president still has the edge among voters on the critical issue of the economy.
The June survey shows Biden leading President Trump by 47% to 38% among registered voters, up four points from his lead in April. Biden benefited from increased support among young as well as wealthier voters and he consolidated his base, seeing a 7-point gain in his approval among Democrats. President Trump lost considerable ground among independents, suffering an 11-point drop in their support. Those independents did not end up in Biden’s column. Instead, there was an 11-point increase in independents declaring themselves undecided.
The poll of 800 Americans nationwide was conducted from June 19 to 22, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5%.
It showed the former vice president dominating or even with President Trump on all of the key issues except one: the economy. Asked who has the best policies for the economy, voters favored the president 44% to 38% over Biden. But it was the only issue where the president led.
Biden had a 14-point advantage on dealing with the coronavirus, 16-points on healthcare and 25 points on policies for racial equality. Biden even had a slight edge on several of the president’s marquee issues: immigration and dealing with China. Though those advantages were small and within the margin of error, it showed the president’s not dominating on issues where he has expended considerable political capital .
“The economy may be what President Trump’s saving grace is going forward,” said Jay Campbell, partner with Hart Research Associates, who served as the Democratic pollster for the survey. Campbell points out that, among independents, President Trump has a 42% to 26% lead on best policies for the economy.
U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a joint news conference with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, June 24, 2020.
Carlos Barria | Reuters
Still, President Trump’s approval rating on the economy fell to 46% from 52% in April. Disapproval rose to 46% from 38%. But those numbers are far better than his overall rating, which sunk to 39% approval and 52% disapproval. It was a sharp turnaround from his positive approval rating in April. That bump into positive territory now looks to have been more of a reflexive reaction in which Americans rally to the president during times of national crises. It’s proven to be short-lived.
Coronavirus, economic outlook
That may be because Americans are beginning to believe the coronavirus will be around longer. Three quarters of the public believe it’s very or somewhat likely there will be a new wave of coronavirus infections in the next six months. Sixty percent say the economy won’t be fully restored until the next year or longer, up from 52% in April. And a 46% plurality of Americans say their bigger worry is that their state will move too fast in lifting virus restrictions; just 30% say they’re concerned restrictions will be lifted too fast, down from 38% in April.
And yet, Americans remain optimistic on the outlook. While 32% of employed Americans report losing hours, wages or salary, 51% say the economy will improve in the next year. While American’s assessment of the economy remains far bleaker than before coronavirus hit, it has improved somewhat since April. That improvement has been driven almost entirely by Republicans, who have a net positive view of the economy, compared with deeply downbeat assessments from Democrats and independents.
Overall, Americans see the current downturn as less serious than the Great Financial Crisis with 54% calling it an economic slowdown or a mild recession compared to 36% who view it as a severe recession or a depression. The numbers were reversed when CNBC asked the question in 2008: 37% to 59%. And American views on stocks rebounded: 43% say it’s a good time to invest in equities and 37% say it’s a bad time. In April, the bearish view dominated by four points.
Yet one echo of the last downturn does not bode well for the economy and consumer spending: just 31% believe they will see their wages grow in the next year, the lowest percentage since 2012.