Joe Biden's lead against Trump in the 2020 election is growing wider, polls show

Key Points
  • Recent polls show the apparent 2020 Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, pulling ahead of President Donald Trump.
  • Biden's lead has widened significantly since last month, according to polling averages from RealClearPolitics.
  • Many of the polls surveyed respondents after the death of George Floyd, which set off a nationwide protest movement against police brutality and systemic racism.
Joe Biden (left) and Donald Trump
Ron Adar | Echoes Wire | Barcroft Media via Getty Images; Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

With the 2020 election now less than five months away, polls show former Vice President Joe Biden pulling further ahead of President Donald Trump, even as the apparent Democratic nominee's campaign remains hampered by the coronavirus.

While Biden has outpaced Trump in most national polls since launching his White House bid in April 2019, the former vice president's lead has widened significantly since last month, according to polling averages from RealClearPolitics.

RCP's average currently gives Biden a 7.8 percentage point lead over Trump — a significant jump from the 5.3-point edge Biden held in early May. On June 4, 2016, the RCP polling average showed then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton ahead of Trump by 1.5 points.

Some individual polls show an even wider gap between Biden and the incumbent. A Monmouth University poll of 742 registered voters released Wednesday found that Biden led Trump by 11 points, with 52% of voters supporting Biden and 41% backing Trump. 

Biden scored a 10-point lead over Trump in another poll of 835 registered voters from ABC News and The Washington Post on Sunday. And a CNBC/Change Research poll this week found Biden has a 48%-41% advantage over Trump among national likely voters. The previous version of that survey gave Biden just a 3-point lead over Trump.

"Everyone knows public polling is notoriously wrong about President Trump," said Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign's communications director, in a statement to CNBC.

"Our internal data consistently shows the President running strong against a defined Joe Biden in all of our key states," Murtaugh said.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Trump is trailing Biden even in private campaign polls, citing people briefed on recent polling results.

According to RCP, Biden also holds leads, albeit narrower ones, in key swing states Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which Trump flipped in 2016.

Biden also recently surged to the lead in betting markets.

The polls from Monmouth and others surveyed respondents after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died during an arrest after a white police officer held his knee on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes. The arrest, which was captured on video, set off a nationwide protest movement against police brutality and systemic racism.

Monmouth University polling director Patrick Murray suggested the reaction to Floyd's death was a factor in Trump's decline in the polls against Biden.

"The race continues to be largely a referendum on the incumbent. The initial reaction to ongoing racial unrest in the country suggests that most voters feel Trump is not handling the situation all that well," Murray said in a press release.

Biden's rise in the polls comes even as the candidate himself has steered clear of in-person campaign events amid the coronavirus crisis.

Biden: We're the only nation that goes through crisis and comes out better
Biden: We're the only nation that goes through crisis and comes out better

Biden since March has largely campaigned from home through online events, though he delivered a public address in Philadelphia on Tuesday in which he vowed to "work to not only rebuild this nation, but to build it better than it was."

At least 107,000 people in the U.S. have died from Covid-19 so far, data from Johns Hopkins University show.

Trump's approval ratings have hovered in the low-to-mid-40% range for most of his presidency, a polling aggregate from FiveThirtyEight shows. Recent polls also show a decline in approval of Trump's handling of the pandemic and give the president low marks for his response to the civil unrest that followed Floyd's death.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted this week found that Trump's handling of the protests received lower marks than his overall approval rating: More than 55% of the American adults surveyed said they disapproved of Trump's handling of the protests, compared with about one-third who said they approved.

Trump has taken an aggressive stance toward the protests, decrying the violence and looting that has taken place in numerous cities and pressuring state leaders to call in the National Guard. Reuters/Ipsos found that 64% of American adults said they were sympathetic to the protesters, while 27% said they were not.

"Instead of working to heal the raw wound of systemic racism and injustice ripped open once more by the murder of George Floyd, Trump has fomented hate and division," Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates told CNBC. "The American people are crying out for leadership that can win this battle for the soul of our nation, bring us together, overcome these crises, and build back so that we're stronger than we've ever been before."

— CNBC's John Schoen contributed to this report.