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Coronavirus concerns fall and Trump approval ticks higher in swing states, CNBC/Change Research poll finds

U.S. President Donald Trump reacts at the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, August 24, 2020.

David T. Foster | Pool | Reuters

Voters’ concerns about the coronavirus have fallen and President Donald Trump‘s approval rating has ticked higher in six swing states over the last two weeks, according to a new CNBC/Change Research poll. 

Still, the improvement has not helped the president overcome a polling deficit against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden

In Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, 66% of likely voters said they have serious concerns about Covid-19, the survey released Wednesday found. The share fell from 69% in a poll taken two weeks earlier. The share of respondents who said they have “very serious” concerns about the coronavirus dropped to 45% from 49%. 

At the same time, 48% of voters in the states said they approve of the job Trump is doing, while 52% disapprove. Two weeks ago, 46% of respondents said they approved of the job Trump is doing, versus 54% who disapproved. 

On how the president has handled the coronavirus, approval rose to 47%, the highest since mid-May. Earlier this month, only 44% of respondents said they approved of how Trump is handling Covid-19. 

The swing-state poll surveyed 4,904 people across the six states from Friday through Sunday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.4 percentage points.

The changes in public opinion come as the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, which is among the worst in the world, has appeared to ease. The numbers of new U.S. Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations have steadily fallen, along with the percentage of tests coming back positive. 

The U.S. has reported more than 5.7 million Covid-19 cases and at least 178,000 deaths from the disease, both higher than any other country, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Trump’s inability to contain the outbreak has appeared to hamper his effort to win a second term in the White House later this year. 

Despite the increase in the president’s approval rating in six states that will help to determine who wins the election, the poll shows a challenging environment for him. Swing-state voters said by a 51% to 49% margin that they think Biden and Democrats would do a better job than Trump and the GOP of handling the coronavirus. 

Though the survey shows a competitive presidential race, it found Biden leading Trump by a 49% to 46% margin across the key states. He has an edge over the incumbent in five of the six states, while North Carolina is virtually tied. 

  • Arizona: Biden 49%, Trump 47%
  • Florida: Biden 49%, Trump 46%
  • Michigan: Biden 50%, Trump 44%
  • North Carolina: Biden 48%, Trump 47%
  • Pennsylvania: Biden 49%, Trump 46%
  • Wisconsin: Biden 49%, Trump 44%

While it is unclear how much of a boost Biden got from last week’s Democratic National Convention, voters gave him high marks for his nomination acceptance speech. About 7 in 10 respondents to the CNBC/Change poll said they had a positive reaction to the remarks.  

Trump will get a chance to counter Biden’s message with a speech of his own on the closing night of the Republican National Convention on Thursday.

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