By Chris Kahn
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The number of Americans who approve of President Donald Trump rose by 5 percentage points over the past week, but registered voters still favored Democrat Joe Biden for president by a small margin, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Tuesday.
The poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday, also showed that the public is paying closer attention to the candidates’ views on the coronavirus outbreak than to what they are saying about the economy, healthcare or immigration. And more people think Biden is better suited to guide the country through the crisis.
Overall, 45% of adults in the United States said they approved of Trump’s job performance, while 48% said they approved of the way he has responded to COVID-19, up 5 and 6 points, respectively, from a similar poll that ran last week. Trump’s approval numbers have been up and down over the past few weeks, however, and it is not yet clear if the public is truly rallying around the president.
Meanwhile, 45% of registered voters said they would back Biden in the Nov. 3 election, while 40% said they would vote for Trump. Biden has maintained a small advantage in support among registered voters over the last four weeks.
The poll was conducted with most Americans forced indoors to protect themselves from the coronavirus that has infected more than 600,000 people in the United States and killed more than 25,000.
After initially downplaying the threat of the virus, Trump has conducted a series of combative news briefings during which he has harangued reporters for criticizing him. Biden, meanwhile, has struggled to remain in the conversation as the media focused on briefings by governors in some of the hardest-hit states.
When asked what was most important to them when deciding how to vote in November’s presidential election, 32% of Americans said it was the candidate’s plan to help the nation recover from the coronavirus. A smaller number said the candidate’s views on the economy (21%), healthcare (13%) or immigration (5%) were most important.
Fifty-two percent of Americans said they felt that Biden was better suited to deal with the coronavirus, while 48% said they thought Trump would be better. Fifty-seven percent also thought Biden would be a better steward of the country’s healthcare system, while 43% said Trump would be better.
Trump, however, had the edge when the public was asked who would be better for the U.S. economy (53% to 47%).
The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,111 American adults, including 937 who identified as registered voters. The poll has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
(Reporting by Chris Kahn, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)