(Carson McCullough, Courthouse News Service) While former Vice President Joe Biden continues to enjoy a sizeable lead over opponent President Donald Trump, new polling data reveals most Americans fear potential election meddling in the upcoming presidential contest — though they can’t agree on who those meddlers will be.
Less than a week before the kickoff of what will be an unconventional and largely virtual convention where Biden will officially accept his party’s nomination, a Monmouth University poll released Tuesday shows Biden commands a double-digit advantage over his rivals. The poll reports that 51% of registered voters say they are behind the former VP while 41% say they are behind Trump.
Other respondents voiced support for a third-party candidate, such as the 2% of voters who say they plan to support Libertarian Jo Jorgensen and the 1% of voters who say they support Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins.
Just 4% of voters say they remain undecided.
After continually widening his lead over the spring, Biden’s advantage over Trump in Tuesday’s poll is similar to what Monmouth pollsters reported two months ago.
Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said Tuesday data shows Trump’s poll numbers have stabilized after taking a series of hits in recent months — but that Biden still has the edge.
“Trump has stopped his slide in the poll, but Biden maintains a lead among all registered voters nationally,” Murray said.
When not pitted against one another and assessed on their own, Biden also enjoys stronger approval rating figures compared to Trump — although both candidates are underwater in the approval department.
Just 42% of voters have a favorable view of Biden, and 47% say they have an unfavorable view of him. While this puts Biden’s favorability rating five points in the red, it stands above Trump’s 14-point favorability deficit: 40% of voters say they favorably view the president and 54% say the opposite.
Regardless which candidate they favor, around 6 in 10 respondents say they are confident that the upcoming presidential contest be will be conducted fairly and accurately. That optimism is held by majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents alike.
In a peculiar and contradictory twist, however, roughly the same majority say they are worried about election meddling.
Tuesday’s poll shows that 35% of voters are at least somewhat concerned about potential election interference and another 37% say they are very concerned — and the fear cuts across party lines.
However, they don’t agree on who the potential culprits might be.
Democrats are mostly concerned about interference from a foreign country, with 40% of them saying they believe Russia is most likely to meddle in November’s election. Nearly a third of Democrats are also wary of Trump potentially interfering with the contest himself.
Republicans, meanwhile, say they are mostly concerned about meddling by the Democratic Party, with 55% of GOP voters believing that any election interference would most likely come from the other side. Only 6% say they expect Russia to be the culprit of any election meddling this year.
Despite clear language from the United States intelligence community that there has been and will likely be election interference from foreign countries in the future, Murray said the poll indicates the Trump campaign has successfully changed the narrative focus for its base.
“The U.S. intelligence community has been unambiguous in calling out Russia, and to a lesser extent China, for both past and planned election interference. However, the Trump camp has been fairly successful in deflecting their supporters away from these actors and instead focusing on Democratic efforts to expand voting access,” Murray said.
Despite the intense criticism by Trump regarding efforts to expand vote-by-mail opportunities this election, 58% of voters still believe that making it easier to vote by mail is a good idea — though this statistic is divided by party. While 90% of Democrats and 60% of independents say vote-by-mail expansion is a good thing, just 20% of Republicans say they agree.
Tuesday’s poll of 785 registered voters contains a 3.5% margin of error.