Biden jumps out to double-digit lead in new polls as Pa. voters start casting their ballots

CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 29: U.S. President Donald Trump and former Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speak during the first presidential debate at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. This is the first of three planned debates between the two candidates in the lead up to the election on November 3. (Photo by Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Images)

A pair of public polls out Wednesday show Democrat Joe Biden with leads over President Donald Trump as voters in a must-win battleground state start casting their ballots.

A Quinnipiac University poll had Biden, the former two-term vice president, leading Trump 54-41 percent among likely voters. The poll’s release came hours after a national poll by GOP-friendly Rasmussen Reports showed Biden with a 12-point lead in a survey that has found the race to be closer than other pollsters, The Hill, a publication that covers Capitol Hill reported.

The Quinnipiac result mirrors a Monmouth University poll released Tuesday that showed Biden with a 12-point, 54-42 percent lead over Trump in Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Wednesday’s poll by Hamden, Conn.-based Quinnipiac was part of a three-state battleground poll that also included results from Florida and Iowa, Biden led Trump 51-40 percent in the Sunshine State and 50-45 percent in Iowa, a state that’s traditionally been a Republican stronghold.

“In varying degrees, three critical states in three very different parts of the country come to the same ominous conclusion. The president’s hopes for re-election are growing dimmer by the day,” Quinnipiac pollster Tim Malloy said in a statement.

Trump carried Pennsylvania by little more than 44,000 votes in 2016, defeating Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and breaking the Democrats’ three-decade-old streak of carrying the state in presidential years. Both Trump and Biden, as well as their surrogates, have visited the Keystone State frequently over the last two weeks, reinforcing the state’s importance as an electoral college prize.

Biden leads Trump by an average of 7.1 percent in Pennsylvania, according to the RealClear Politics polling average.

The Quinnipiac survey, conducted between Oct. 1 and Oct. 5, comes after both the first presidential debate, and Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis. Forty-six percent of the poll’s Pennsylvania respondents said Trump’s pugilistic performance at the Cleveland debate made them think less of the incumbent president.

Nearly six in 10 voters, 58 percent, said they disapproved of Trump’s handling of the pandemic, which had claimed the lives of 8,272 Pennsylvanians as of Wednesday, according to state Health Department data.

In a Tuesday speech in Gettysburg, Biden cast the race between him and Trump, now entering its final weeks, as a “battle for the soul of the nation,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The appearance in Pennsylvania came a day after Trump, in a White House video shot after his discharge from Walter Reed Medical Center, seemingly shrugged off the severity of the pandemic, as he urged Americans to not “let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it.” The president is still contagious and the illness has since spread to other White House staff.

In Miami for an NBC News Town Hall on Monday, Biden harshly criticized Trump’s management of the pandemic, the Inquirer reported.

“Anybody who contracts the virus by essentially saying masks don’t matter, social distancing doesn’t matter, I think is responsible for what happens to them,” Biden said, according to the Inquirer.

Other Pennsylvania findings from the Quinnipiac poll:

  • “72 – 23 percent that Biden has a sense of decency, and 60 – 36 percent that Trump does not;
  • “63 – 32 percent that Biden cares about average Americans, and 55 – 42 percent that Trump does not;
  • “54 – 38 percent that Biden is honest, and 61 – 35 percent that Trump is not honest;
  • “50 – 45 percent that Trump is racist, and 69 – 23 percent that Biden is not racist,” the poll concluded.

And on key issues:

  • “57 – 38 percent that Biden would do a better job handling the response to the coronavirus;
  • “56 – 39 percent that Biden would do a better job handling health care;
  • “53 – 42 percent that Biden would do a better job handling Supreme Court nominations;
  • “A divided 50 – 46 percent that Trump would do a better job handling the economy,” the poll found.

“President Trump comes under further pressure in Pennsylvania where voters give him low marks on decency, empathy and honesty. On issues, the pandemic is overshadowing all others right now and voters express more confidence in former Vice President Joe Biden to handle the coronavirus response,” Quinnipiac Polling Analyst Mary Snow said in a statement.

The poll included the opinions of 1,211 likely voters, with a margin of error of 2.8 percent.

John L. Micek
A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press