Biden holds stable lead in six swing states after debate, Trump's coronavirus diagnosis, new poll finds

Key Points
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden holds a steady lead over President Trump in six swing states, according to a new CNBC/Change Research poll. 
  • Most swing-state voters disapprove of Trump's handling of the coronavirus, and prefer Biden and Democrats to handle the outbreak. 
  • A majority of voters have concerns about the president's health following his Covid-19 diagnosis, and most think he did not take enough precautions to protect himself from exposure to the virus.
How Trump's coronavirus diagnosis has affected swing voters' opinions
How Trump's coronavirus diagnosis has affected swing voters' opinions

Former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in six swing states after the first 2020 presidential debate and following the president's diagnosis with Covid-19, according to a new CNBC/Change Research poll.

Across the key states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the Democratic nominee garners 50% of support, compared with 45% for the Republican incumbent, the survey released Tuesday found. In a poll taken two weeks ago, Biden had a 49% to 45% edge over Trump across the six states. 

Biden has an advantage in every one of the six states, though he holds his smallest lead in North Carolina. Here is where the race stands in each state, including the change in Biden's lead from two weeks ago: 

  • Arizona: Biden 51%, Trump 45% (no change in lead)
  • Florida: Biden 50%, Trump 46% (+1)
  • Michigan: Biden 51%, Trump 43% (no change in lead)
  • North Carolina: Biden 49%, Trump 47% (no change in lead)
  • Pennsylvania: Biden 50%, Trump 46% (no change in lead)
  • Wisconsin: Biden 51%, Trump 44% (-2)

The poll surveyed 2,688 likely voters in the six states from Friday to Sunday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.89 percentage points. 

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden boards his campaign plane for travel to Miami at New Castle Airport in New Castle, Delaware, U.S., October 5, 2020.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters

The survey finds a stable race with less than a month to go until Election Day on Nov. 3. Biden has run ahead of Trump in the election's most critical states, though by margins that the president could feasibly overcome.

The findings in the CNBC/Change Research poll follow the first presidential debate, a free-for-all that took place a week ago. Voters were surveyed after Trump's coronavirus diagnosis, which he announced early Friday. 

Regarding the president's health, 52% of likely swing-state voters said they have serious concerns, while 48% answered that they did not. Trump returned to the White House on Monday night after getting treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, though his doctor cautioned he "may not entirely be out of the woods yet."

Only 39% of respondents said they think Trump took the appropriate precautions to prevent himself from getting exposed to the virus, while 55% said he failed to do so. Seventy-five percent answered that they believe Biden has taken the right steps to avoid exposure. 

Worries about the virus outbreak ticked higher in the last two weeks. Across the six states, 72% said they had serious concerns about Covid-19, up from 65% in the previous survey. 

Trump returns to the White House as he continues coronavirus treatment
Trump returns to the White House as he continues coronavirus treatment

When asked about the effects of the coronavirus, 40% of respondents said they think things are getting better, while 42% answered that they believe they are getting worse. In the previous survey, 46% of voters said they believed the situation was improving, while 34% thought it was getting worse.

Voters are most pessimistic in Wisconsin, which has endured a troubling recent spike in infections. In the state, 59% of respondents this week said they think the effects of the outbreak are getting worse.

Swing-state voters continue to give Trump poor marks on how he has managed the pandemic. Only 46% of respondents approve of how he is handling the coronavirus, while 54% disapprove. 

A majority — 53% — said they think Biden and Democrats would do a better job handling the virus, versus 47% who chose Trump and Republicans. 

The president downplayed the severity of the disease in recent days, even after he received an experimental treatment at the hospital, an outbreak spread among his White House staff and campaign advisors and the American death toll topped 210,000.

In a video posted to Twitter on Monday night, Trump told Americans not to let the virus "dominate" their lives. As he still tries to fight off the infection, Trump claimed he might be "immune" to the disease.

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