The USA Today/Suffolk University poll released Monday explains, in part, why President Trump has been rage tweeting over the last 24 hours: “[Former vice president Joe Biden is] leading Trump nationwide by 6 percentage points, 44%-38%, a shift from Trump’s 3-point lead in the survey as he was being impeached by the House in December. In a contest without a third-party contender, Biden’s margin jumps to 10 points, 50%-40%.” Perhaps not surprising, Biden clobbers Trump in qualities such as “cares about people like me,” “stands up for U.S. interests,” is “honest and trustworthy” and “can work with foreign leaders.” On knowing “how to get things done,” Trump has a positive score (51 percent to 45 percent) as does Biden (although not an outright at 48 percent to 39 percent).

Biden plainly has made progress more quickly than Hillary Clinton, the 2016 nominee, did in nailing down Democratic support. “Biden has made progress in consolidating support among Democrats; 87% of Democratic voters now back him, and he has been endorsed by his primary rivals, former president Barack Obama and others,” the poll shows. “He has gained ground among voters under 35, a group that had been more likely in the primaries to support Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Now Biden is backed over Trump among younger voters by 50%-25%.”

While Trump gets more than 90 percent of Republicans, Trump’s habit of doubling down with his hard-line base has come at the expense of support among everyone else. Trump is in trouble with independents (only 27 percent support) and among women (he trails Biden 53 percent to 30 percent). One can imagine that, as Trump fails to show much empathy for the sick and dying and throws out dangerous health suggestions, he is going to do even more damage to his standing with women, who are more likely to care more about health care than male voters and who dislike his bombast and bullying.

There is a small downward movement in support among African Americans for Biden, but it is unclear whether it is statistically significant. It may, however, strengthen the case for him to name an African American woman such as Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) or Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate.

Several aspects of the poll are worth stressing. First, we are six months out — a lifetime in politics — but it is not at all clear that things are going to get any better for Trump. The opposite is almost surely true. More coronavirus deaths will be recorded, frightful unemployment numbers will persist and lives will continue to be disrupted. Second, nonwhite voters are, as they do in most crises and economic downturns, suffering disproportionately. Many are first responders or in essential jobs, thereby exposing them to greater dangers. Their health status and access to health care may be worse than that of white Americans. If Biden keeps the focus on this aspect of the crisis, nonwhite voters will keep in mind precisely what they “have to lose” in a Trump presidency. Third, the bad polling tends to make Trump grouchier and more frantic. His on-again, off-again news conference on Monday is indicative of his dilemma: He cannot handle the lack of attention, but the attention now provides a powerful boost — to his opponent.

Democratic Party lawyer Marc Elias says states and Congress need to act now to ensure all votes count during the general election. These changes are overdue. (The Washington Post)

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