Democratic candidate Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump by a 53-43 percent margin, in a Fox News national survey of likely voters conducted after a combative debate and the president testing positive for coronavirus. Biden’s 10-point advantage is up from a 5-point lead last month.
The incumbent faces a challenging landscape:
-- Voters think the stakes are high. A 70 percent majority believes our democracy is “in danger” in this election, including about 8 in 10 Biden supporters and 6 in 10 Trump supporters.
-- On coronavirus, most, 72 percent, favor requiring masks when people are outside their home, while the number who think the virus is under control is small (24 percent mostly/completely) -- and down from a month ago (30 percent). Almost twice as many voters prioritize limiting the spread of coronavirus over restarting the economy.
-- Most rate economic conditions negatively (65 percent only fair/poor).
Coronavirus and the economy are the two issues that matter most to voters in deciding their choice for president. The same number, 44 percent, say the pandemic will be the single most important factor as say the economy will be the top factor. That’s more than say the same about health care (34 percent), racism (26 percent), the Supreme Court and violent crime (25 percent each).
Biden leads Trump by 39 points among those saying coronavirus is the most important factor, while Trump is preferred among those saying the economy by 12.
Twice as many voters want to keep ObamaCare in place as want to repeal the health care law (64-32 percent), and voters who prioritize health care favor Biden by 32 points.
Those who say violent crime is the most important factor to their vote favor Trump by a single point, while voters who prioritize racism back Biden by 44.
A 58 percent majority thinks the way Trump talks about racial inequality is leading to an increase in violence, including 28 percent of those supporting him. For comparison, 38 percent believe Biden’s language incites violence, including 17 percent backing him.
On the Supreme Court, 54 percent don’t think a president should get to appoint someone to a lifetime position this close to the election, while 44 percent think it is the responsibility of current leaders to act to fill the vacancy created by Justice Ginsburg’s death. This is a reversal from 2016, in the wake of Justice Scalia’s death, when most felt it was the responsibility of current leaders to act by a 62-34 percent margin.
Views divide evenly over increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court, with about one in five unsure.
Biden leads Trump by 5 points among those saying the high court is the most important factor in their vote. At the same time, half would vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett. Nine in 10 Republicans favor her confirmation, while 8 in 10 Democrats oppose it. Support for Barrett’s confirmation is a touch better than the highest numbers Brett Kavanaugh received for his nomination and in line with the highest Neil Gorsuch received.
Voters say Biden is a strong leader by 5 points, while they think Trump is not by 4 points.
Among groups, Biden owes his lead mainly to support from women (+19 points), especially suburban women (+25 points), Hispanics (+43), and voters under age 35 (+43).
Trump is favored by Whites (+9 points), White women without a college degree (+10), White Catholics (+11), rural voters (+13), and White men without a college degree (+19).
In 2016, Trump won men by 11 points and those ages 65+ by 9, according to Pew Research Center validated voter data. The new survey finds Biden with a slight edge among seniors (+2 points) and men (+1).
Equal numbers of Biden (75 percent) and Trump (77 percent) backers are extremely committed to their candidate and extremely interested in the election (65 and 66 percent respectively).
Voters planning to cast a ballot by mail favor Biden by 41 points, while Trump leads by 11 points among those planning to vote in person.
Among registered voters:
-- More voters like Biden than Trump, and that’s increasingly true. Biden’s favorable ratings are net positive by 16 points (57 favorable vs. 41 unfavorable), while Trump’s are underwater by 10 (44-54). The president’s favorable is down 3 points from his record 47 percent in April. Since that time, Biden’s favorable is up 9 points (48 percent in April).
-- Views of Vice President Mike Pence are more negative than positive by 1 point (47 favorable vs. 48 unfavorable), while views of Kamala Harris are net positive by 13 (53-40).
-- An increasing number think neighbors support Trump. By an 11-point margin, more think their neighbors are for Trump than Biden. In August, that was a 5-point spread. Democratic pollster Chris Anderson, who conducts the Fox News survey with Republican Daron Shaw, believes more voters thinking their neighbors are for Trump is due to, “a combination of 2016 PTSD and liberal anxiety.” More Democrats say their neighbors back Trump (22 percent) than Republicans think theirs support Biden (9 percent), and very liberals (34 percent) are nearly three times as likely as very conservatives (13 percent) to think others are voting for the competition.
-- Trump’s job rating mostly holds steady, as 47 percent approve and 52 percent disapprove. Last month, it was 48-51 percent. While approval of Trump has never hit 50 percent, it was 49-49 percent in April. He’s leaving votes on the table, as more voters approve of his job performance than are supporting him in the race against Biden.
-- A record 41 percent see the disruption Trump has brought to Washington as a good thing, up from 35 percent two years ago. Still, a majority of 52 percent sees it as a bad thing, including 10 percent of Republicans and 7 percent of Trump supporters.
-- Views on abortion remain divided: 53 percent think it should be legal all (31 percent) or most of the time (22 percent), while 45 percent say illegal all the time (9 percent) or except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother (36 percent). Last June, it was 50-46 percent.
-- Views are more lopsided on Roe v. Wade. By a 61-28 percent margin, voters say the Supreme Court should let it stand. Most Democrats (69 percent) say abortion should be legal and want Roe to stand (76 percent). For Republicans, most (63 percent) think abortion should be illegal, yet they split on Roe, as 44 percent say it should be overturned, while 42 percent say let it stand.
-- Who won the first presidential debate? Eight in 10 Biden supporters think he won, while 6 in 10 Trump supporters say the president won. Overall, voters think Biden won by a 44-29 percent margin, 11 percent say tie/no one, and 16 percent are unsure.
Conducted October 3-6, 2020 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company (R), this Fox News Poll includes interviews with 1,107 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide who spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones. The survey includes results among 1,012 likely voters. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for both registered and likely voters.
Fox News’ Victoria Balara contributed to this report.