Joseph R. Biden Jr. maintains a steady lead over President Trump in Nevada, and the two are practically linked in Ohio as voters remain unhappy with the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to new polls by the New York Times and Siena’s College released on Wednesday.
Mr. Biden tops 48 to 42 percent of the likely voters in Nevada and 45 to 44 percent in Ohio. Six percent of Nevada voters and seven percent of Ohioans said they were undecided. The polls were conducted after Mr Trump announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus, and most of the poll took place before Mr Trump returned to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday evening.
The results illustrate the changing political dynamics in two states that each party has hoped to deviate from its 2016 results. When The Times surveyed Nevada last month, Mr. Biden was four points ahead. And Ohio, a state vital to the prospects of Mr. Trump’s electoral college, appears to be a mistake after Republicans and many Democrats assumed that the state’s demographics made it virtually safe, in Mr. Trump’s column to stay. The president wore Ohio in 2016 by eight percentage points.
The error rate for both surveys is 4.3 percentage points.
The results show the extent to which voters’ views on the coronavirus crisis and Mr Trump’s management continue to hang over the elections.
Voters in Nevada said, by a 10-point lead, they trusted Mr Biden more than the president to help tackle the pandemic. In Ohio, Mr. Biden’s advantage on this matter was seven points.
About a third of voters in each state said Mr Trump had taken reasonable precautions to protect himself, while 62 percent in Nevada and 58 percent in Ohio did not.
And when asked how politicians should fight during the pandemic, only 20 percent of Ohio voters and 28 percent of Nevadans said it was appropriate to appear in person in front of large crowds. 65 percent of Ohioans and 58 percent of Nevada voters said candidates should only camp in front of small, socially distant groups.
Even sizeable segments of Mr. Trump’s own supporters – 37 percent in Ohio and 22 percent in Nevada – found his large coronavirus-era rallies inappropriate.
“I really wish he had been more of a role model to show us how to be safe,” said Karen Pellerin, a 57-year-old retiree from Sparks, Nev. “I’m pretty disgusted that he’s coming out of the hospital and.” goes through the White House with the virus. “
Even so, Ms. Pellerin said she intended to vote for Mr. Trump. She said she “did not trust” Mr. Biden and his runmate, Senator Kamala Harris of California.
Mr Biden’s strength in the two states, as elsewhere, is driven by women; He led Mr. Trump with 11 percentage points for women in Ohio and 14 points for Nevada. It has also retained a significant advantage among suburban voters, led by 32 percentage points in Nevada and 22 points in Ohio.
Mr. Biden’s six-point lead among likely Nevada voters comes after months of frustration with Democrats over the state’s large population of unionized casino workers becoming unemployed because of the pandemic. The Culinary Union, which represents casino workers in Las Vegas and Reno, had 90 percent of its membership unemployed in March, which greatly increased the difficulty of organizing workers who had not yet left the state.
Until the last few weeks, Mr Biden’s campaign has barely contested Ohio, a state that has moved solidly toward Republicans in recent years. His campaign focused on what television commercials were bought in Ohio in markets that bleed to Michigan and Pennsylvania, battlefield states more critical of his path to winning Electoral College. But with polls showing a tight race there, the state Democrats have urged the Biden team to be more competitive.
The electoral lead of the former vice president is particularly important in Nevada, where nearly 70 percent of all votes were cast before election day in 2016. On September 24, Nevada officials began sending ballots to all registered voters.
More than two million Ohioans – more than a quarter of the state’s registered voters – have requested postal votes, which officials should mail out Tuesday.
Christine Ponkowski, who owns a house cleaning company in Henderson, Nevada, described Mr. Trump’s handling of his own coronavirus case as annoying. Ms. Ponkowski, 56, does not enter a room in a customer’s home unless there is no other person around to protect herself and her customers.
Ms. Ponkowski said she planned to cast her vote for Mr. Biden on Thursday.
“It’s sad when someone gets the virus,” she said. “I have family members who got the virus. “My next thought is that maybe this will wake him up. But it has only strengthened him and his henchmen who follow him. “
Like many Biden supporters, Ms. Ponkowski said she plans to vote for the former Vice President, primarily to remove Mr. Trump from office. When asked why she planned to vote for Mr. Biden, she replied, “Because Bernie Sanders is not on the menu.”
In both states, Mr Biden is gaining overwhelming support from voters who cast or did not vote for third party candidates in 2016. In Ohio, 51 percent of third-party voters support Mr. Biden, compared with just 16 percent for Mr. Trump. In Nevada, Mr. Biden leads those voters with 45 to 26 percent.
Mr Biden also peeled off about twice as many votes from Mr Trump in 2016 as Mr Trump from Hillary Clinton, the poll found.
In Columbus, Ohio, Kirsten Mullins, an accountant for a hedge fund, voted for Mr. Trump in 2016, but plans to vote for Mr. Biden this year. She described herself as fiscal conservative but said Mr Trump failed to lead the country through the coronavirus pandemic.
Ms. Mullins, 28, described Mr. Trump’s photo op drive to wave to supporters outside Walter Reed Hospital on Sunday as “embarrassing”.
“When he tweets that he’s the best he has felt in 20 years and gets credit for drugs that 99 percent of Americans will not have access to, that is a slap in the face for people dealing with the effects Have to fight this virus every day, ”she said.
In both states, Mr. Trump has a base of dedicated supporters who rub against what they see as personal disregard for Democrats and the media.
Bill Brandyberry, a house inspector from Canton, Ohio, said he was offended because Mr. Trump accused Democrats and some journalists of removing his mask when he returned to the White House Monday night.
“You’re doing a big deal about how he took off his mask,” said Mr. Brandyberry. “I didn’t see anyone around him and he was outside on the porch. Come on. I’m sick of that. “
Mr Brandyberry, 61, said his mother died of the coronavirus in May and her cremated remains are sitting on his fireplace because Pennsylvania restrictions on where she should be buried limit burials to 25 people.
Still, he said he was more concerned about the prospect of a Biden government than Mr. Trump’s handling of the pandemic.
“Biden is going to disappoint the police, ruin the police force and then take my gun and then what,” he said.
Mr Biden has repeatedly said he refuses to defuse the police and has proposed increasing government aid to law enforcement agencies under certain conditions.
The nation’s partisan difference is even affecting voters’ perceptions of the severity of Mr Trump’s illness. With a margin of 79-10 percent in Ohio and 84-10 percent in Nevada, Republicans overwhelmingly believe that Mr. Trump will recover quickly from the virus. A large number of Democrats in both states said it would “take weeks to recover”.
“I’m surprised he seems to have recovered quickly from what I heard about the virus,” said Suzan Loda, a 62-year-old homemaker from Winnemucca, Nev. “If these drugs made him so effective.” Well, so soon, I would like to see them available to everyone. “
Ms. Loda said she remained undecided in the presidential campaign but was inclined to support Mr. Trump.
Here are the crosstabs for the survey.