USC poll: Biden leads on everything but jobs and the economy
Though registered voters trust Donald Trump more on jobs and the economy, Joe Biden has a large advantage when it comes to uniting the country and responding to COVID-19. (Photo/iStock)

USC poll: Biden leads on everything but jobs and the economy

The latest USC Dornsife Daybreak Poll reveals 59% of registered voters have an unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump, compared to a 50% favorable rating for Joe Biden.
ByJenesse Miller

One-third of all registered voters say jobs and the economy is their most important issue in deciding which presidential candidate to vote for, the latest USC Dornsife Daybreak poll shows.

When asked which candidate they trust more to handle jobs and the economy, registered voters give President Donald Trump a 4 percentage-point advantage over former Vice President Joe Biden. But on uniting the country and healing racial divisions, and on COVID-19 response, Biden has an advantage of 22 points and 14 points, respectively.

The poll also found that nearly 3 out of 5 voters have an unfavorable opinion of Trump; nearly half have an “extremely unfavorable” opinion. Voters are more evenly split over Biden. Half rated him either “somewhat favorable” or “extremely favorable” and 47% rated him unfavorably, including more than a third who have an “extremely unfavorable” opinion.

The national probability poll was conducted by the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR) among 4,580 registered voters who are members of its Understanding America Study panel. The poll has a +/- 2 percentage point overall margin of sampling error.

Partisan differences in how voters ranked issues tell a more nuanced story

Half of Republican voters and those who say they’re voting for Trump, and just under half the voters who lean toward voting Republican, chose jobs and the economy as their top issue.

In contrast, Democrats were more divided on their top issue. “Uniting the country and healing racial divisions” was chosen by a third of those identifying as Democrats and Biden voters, and by just under a quarter of those who lean Democrat. That issue ranked second among all registered voters, as well as among GOP leaners, Independents and undecided voters. 

Law enforcement and criminal justice was picked second most often by Trump voters and Republicans in general. “The Trump campaign’s focus on riots and protests as problems in the cities are resonating among Trump voters and Republicans,” said Darling. “However, potential swing voters are more concerned about uniting the country around resolving racial unrest.

Although jobs and the economy took the top spot among all registered voters and among Republicans and Trump voters, uniting the country was the top issue for nearly 1 in 5 voters who lean Republican, and a similar percentage of independents and undecided voters.

“The poll results reveal that Biden has an issue that everybody, including Republicans, cares about: uniting and healing,” said Mike Murphy, co-director of the Center for the Political Future. “It’s a very clear roadmap for Biden. If he can make it more germane and move it further up the importance scale, that’s pure gain for him.”

It’s not (just) the economy, stupid

Pollsters also asked voters who they trusted more to deal with these issues.  While voters gave Trump the edge by 4 percentage points on jobs and economy, they trusted Biden more on all of the other issues — many of them by double digit margins.

“It’s clear that Biden owns ‘uniting and healing’ — as well as climate change —  for the small percentage of people who chose that as their most important issue,” said Darling. “But he also has a 10-point advantage on health care — an issue that ranked high in importance for swing voters.”

Favorability ratings and voter motivation

Results show that nearly half of all registered voters (47%) have an extremely unfavorable opinion of Trump, compared to one third who have an extremely unfavorable opinion of Biden.

Biden has an overall favorable impression among half of the voters, while only 40% of voters have a somewhat or extremely favorable opinion of Trump.

Independents have a net negative impression of both candidates, by similar margins, but they are four times as likely to say they haven’t heard enough about Biden to form an opinion.

See USC News for the full story >>