By GARY LANGER
(NEW YORK) — A welcome reception for Sen. Kamala Harris and rising enthusiasm for Joe Biden mark President Donald Trump’s challenges in the 2020 election, as do two realities on the ground: just 14% of Americans in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say the coronavirus pandemic is under control, and two-thirds say the economy is in bad shape — the most since October 2014, when voters reacted with a vengeance.
As the virtual Democratic National Convention opens, Biden holds a 12 percentage-point lead over Trump among registered voters, 53-41%, and a similar 10 points among likely voters, 54-44%, with two and a half consequential months to go.
Beneath that result is an underlying shift: the share of Biden supporters who are very enthusiastic about supporting him has grown from 28% in March to 48% today. He still has a wide deficit on this gauge compared with Trump, with 65% strong enthusiasm, but it’s eased considerably. It’s a measure to watch because enthusiasm can encourage turnout, especially given the extra effort needed to vote in many states this year.
Biden’s enthusiasm score started up before he selected Harris; it’s risen in ABC/Post polls since May. Nonetheless, views of her selection are positive; as reported Sunday, Americans approve by a 25-point margin, 54-29%.
Moreover, 54% see Harris as qualified to take over as president if something happened to Biden, as many as those who say the same about Mike Pence and Trump. Just 33% see her as “too liberal” — a GOP line of attack. And a narrow majority, 52%, sees her favorably overall, the only one of the four to cross that line. Biden toes it, at 50% favorability, vs. 44% for Pence and 42% for Trump.
Trump is the only one in the group to be seen unfavorably by most Americans, 56% in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. He’s seen strongly unfavorably rather than strongly favorably by a 17-point margin, 46-29% — about double the strongly negative margin for Biden, 8 points, 34-26%.
Looking back four years, Hillary Clinton had a favorability rating of 42% heading into her convention, 8 points below Biden’s now. By late October, she and Trump were equally unpopular, taking favorability off the table as a differentiating factor in that election.
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