Biden is leveling with Trump as the economic outlook improves slightly, a CNBC poll shows

Biden is leveling with Trump as the economic outlook improves slightly, a CNBC poll shows
Biden is leveling with Trump as the economic outlook improves slightly, a CNBC poll shows

  • Forty-six percent of voters in the CNBC All-America Economic poll chose Trump, and 45% chose Biden. Trump had a 48-42 lead in the December poll.
  • Biden’s overall approval rating rose to 39% from 35% in December, and his economic approval rating rose to 37% from 33%.
  • Trump has a solid lead among voters when it comes to which candidate they think is the best on several key economic issues.
  • The survey was among 1,001 Americans nationwide.

Americans’ views on the economy have improved modestly, according to CNBC’s latest All-America Economic Survey, helping President Joe Biden tie with Donald Trump in a head-to-head matchup.

But former President Trump holds a commanding lead on several economic issues, such as inflation, taxes and immigration, that voters say are most important in this election.

The poll of 1,001 Americans nationwide showed 46 percent of voters choosing Trump and 45 percent choosing Biden in a head-to-head matchup with 10 percent undecided. Trump had a 48-42 lead in the December poll. Both polls had a margin of error of +/-3.1%.

Biden saw improved support among Democrats and independents, as well as those with college degrees and higher, compared to the previous quarter. Trump saw his significant advantage among those with less than a high school education, while maintaining his large lead among white, rural and male voters. He did lose some support among those with some college education.

Biden’s overall approval rating rose to 39% from 35% in December, and his disapproval fell to 56% from 59%. His economic approval rose to 37% from 33%, while disapproval fell to 58% from 62%.

Jay Campbell, a partner at Hart Research who served as the Democratic pollster for the survey, said, «That 39 percent is objectively poor approval for a candidate going for re-election, but it might also be enough this time around.»

Micah Roberts, a partner at Public Opinion Strategies, the Republican pollster, largely agreed: “We’re in new territory with two very unpopular candidates that people know very well. Nothing new to learn about either of them guys. So, maybe that’s enough. It is enough to hold it tightly. That’s for sure.»

Still, the president’s foreign policy approval rating remains deeply negative with just 30 percent approving, compared to 63 percent who disapprove and 29 percent approving of his handling of immigration and border security with 64 percent disapproving.

More than 90 percent of Republicans and 60 percent of independents disapprove of his handling of foreign policy and immigration, but so do 30 percent of Democrats, a significant bloc of opposition from the president’s own party. In fact, younger Democrats are equally divided on how the president is handling foreign policy.

While those issues appear to be slowing the president’s approval rating, he has gotten a boost from slightly better overall views of the economy. Twenty-five percent rated the economy as excellent or good, up from 19% in December, with 75% saying it was just fair or bad, down from 80%. Both are the most optimistic numbers since the summer of 2021 and go hand in hand with falling inflation, good growth data and low unemployment. At the same time, Americans are only half as positive about the economy as they were before the pandemic.

Americans’ forecasts of house price gains are the highest in two years, stock market optimism is the highest in three years, while the 40% of respondents expecting a recession is the lowest since 2000 . Expected salary, earnings are around average, and confidence in keeping one’s job remains high – 82%.

As good as all of this sounds for Biden, 39% of Americans believe they would be better off financially if former President Trump is elected, compared to 23% who say Biden and 34% who say that it doesn’t matter to their financial well-being who is president. Most of these results are driven by Republicans, 79% of whom strongly believe it is important to them financially if Trump is re-elected. Just 18 percent said it didn’t matter, compared to 51 percent of independents and 42 percent of Democrats. Still, 25% of independents believe they would be better off if Trump were elected, compared to 12% who chose Biden.

Trump also appears to have a solid lead among voters when it comes to which candidate they think is the best on several key economic issues. Survey respondents said inflation was the No. 1 issue, and they gave Trump a 27-point advantage over which candidate would handle it. Biden has a 19-point lead on the next most important issue, health care. But Trump has double-digit leads on who is best for the overall economy and on crime, taxes, immigration and China. Biden has a large 25-point lead on abortion and a small lead on Social Security.

But pollsters noted some weaknesses in Biden’s coalition. Black voters are more likely to be undecided than the typical voter, and Hispanics support Biden by just 9 points over Trump. The AP Votecast poll suggests Biden won the Latino vote by 28 points in 2020.

Latin Americans are also divided on who is better on key economic issues. They think Trump would have better policies to deal with inflation by 12 points, while they see Biden better on health care by 24 points.

For full poll results, click here.

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