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Biden widens his lead over Trump during protests, pandemic, new national poll finds

Former vice president Joe Biden (left) and President Trump.
Former vice president Joe Biden (left) and President Trump.Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

(Bloomberg) -- Joe Biden further widened his lead over President Donald Trump as unrest gripped much of the country, up 11 percentage points over the incumbent in the latest Monmouth University poll.

The poll found that registered voters favored Biden 52% to Trump’s 41%. Last month Biden led Trump 50% to 41% and in April, 48% to 44%.

“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,” Patrick Murray, Monmouth University Polling Institute director, said in a statement.

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The poll was conducted from May 28 to June 1 and has a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points. June 1 was Monday, the evening when Trump gave his Rose Garden remarks before having peaceful protesters forcibly cleared from Lafayette Park park for a photo op.

As protests continue across the country over the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody, one third of voters polled said race relations would be a “major factor” in their vote while nearly half said it wouldn’t influence their choice.

Whites were largely split along party lines with 48% of white Democrats stating that race relations in the U.S. will be a major factor in their decision on who to vote for, compared to 4% of white Republicans and 35% of white independents.

Overall, voters trusted Biden more than Trump with handling race relations and the coronavirus pandemic. A majority, 52%, said they have confidence in Biden’s ability to handle race relations compared to 40% for Trump.

Murray said the results indicated the candidates’ inability to hold traditional campaign events during the pandemic may be hurting both candidates.

“Trump has not been able to lean on the large rallies that generate positive feedback for him, but Biden has not been much of a presence at all on the public stage,” Murray said. “Many voters think the Democrat could do a good job, but they haven’t seen enough of him to judge for certain.”

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