Joseph R. Biden Jr. maintains a steady lead over President Trump in Nevada and the two are practically tied in Ohio, as voters continue to express dissatisfaction with the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to new polls from The New York Times and Siena The college is released on Wednesday.
According to polls, Mr. Biden leads 48% to 42% of probable voters in Nevada and 45% to 44% in Ohio. 6% of Nevada voters and 7% of Ohio residents said they remained undecided. The polls were carried out after Trump announced he tested positive for coronavirus, and most of the poll took place before Mr. Trump returned to the White House Monday night from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
The findings illustrate the changing political dynamics in a couple of states that each party hoped to change from the 2016 results. When The Times interviewed Nevada last month, Mr. Biden had a four-point lead. And Ohio, a state critical to the prospects of Trump’s Electoral College, appears to be a disaster after Republicans and many Democrats assumed that the state’s demographics made staying in Trump’s column virtually certain. The president led Ohio by eight percentage points in 2016.
The margin of error for both surveys is 4.3 percentage points.
The results show to what extent voter views on the coronavirus crisis and Trump’s handling continue to weigh on the elections.
Voters in Nevada said, by a 10-point margin, that they trusted Biden more than the president to handle the pandemic. In Ohio, Biden’s lead on the issue was seven points.
About a third of voters in each state said Trump took adequate precautions to protect himself, while 62% in Nevada and 58% in Ohio said no.
And when asked how politicians should campaign during the pandemic, only 20% of Ohio voters and 28% of Nevadans said it was appropriate to appear in person in front of large crowds. Sixty-five percent of Ohio residents and 58 percent of Nevada voters said candidates should only campaign in front of small, socially distant groups.
Even sizable chunks of Trump’s own supporters – 37% in Ohio and 22% in Nevada – felt his large gatherings were inappropriate in the coronavirus era.
“I really wish he was more of a role model in showing us how to be safe,” said Karen Pellerin, a 57-year-old retiree from Sparks, Nev. “I’m pretty disgusted that he comes out of the hospital and walks around the White House with the virus.”
However, Ms. Pellerin said she intended to vote for Mr. Trump. He said he did not “trust” Mr. Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California.
Mr. Biden’s strength in both states, as elsewhere, is fueled by women; led Mr. Trump by 11 percentage points among women in Ohio and 14 percentage points in Nevada. He also maintained a significant lead among suburban voters, leading by 32 percentage points in Nevada and 22 percentage points in Ohio.
Biden’s six-point advantage among likely Nevada voters comes after Democrats have been worrying for months about the state’s large population of unionized casino workers who have been put out of work due to the pandemic. The Culinary Union, which represents casino workers in Las Vegas and Reno, had 90 percent of its members were unemployed in March, greatly increasing the difficulty in organizing workers who had not yet left the state.
Up until the last few weeks, Biden’s campaign has barely contested Ohio, a state that has moved firmly towards Republicans in recent years. His campaign focused on the television commercials he bought in Ohio in markets that span Michigan and Pennsylvania, battlefield states that are most critical to his path to Electoral College victory. But with polls showing a narrow run there, Democrats in the state have urged Biden’s team to be more competitive.
The former vice president’s electoral advantage is especially significant in Nevada, where nearly 70 percent of all votes were cast before election day in 2016. Nevada officials began sending ballots to all registered voters on September 24.
Christine Ponkowski, who owns a household cleaning company in Henderson, Nevada, described Mr. Trump’s handling of her coronavirus case as irritating. Ms. Ponkowski, 56, will not enter a room in a client’s home unless other people are present, to protect herself and her clients.
Ms. Ponkowski said she intended to vote for Mr. Biden on Thursday.
“It’s sad when someone gets the virus,” he said. “I have family members who have contracted the virus. “My next thought is that maybe this will wake him up. But he simply empowered him and his minions 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 he plans to vote for Mr. Biden, he replied: “Because Bernie Sanders is not on the ticket.”
In both states, Mr. Biden is gaining overwhelming support from voters who in 2016 voted for third-party candidates or didn’t vote. In Ohio, 51% of third-party voters support Mr. Biden, compared to just 16% of Mr. Trump. In Nevada, Mr. Biden leads those voters from 45% to 26%.
Mr. Biden is also writing off roughly double Trump’s 2016 votes than Hillary Clinton’s, according to the poll.
In Columbus, Ohio, Kirsten Mullins, a hedge fund accountant, voted for Mr. Trump in 2016 but plans to vote for Mr. Biden this year. She described herself as a fiscal conservative, but said Mr. Trump has failed to lead the country through the coronavirus pandemic.
Ms. Mullins, 28, described Mr. Trump’s photo run Sunday to greet supporters outside Walter Reed hospital as “embarrassing.”
“For him tweeting that it’s the best he’s heard in 20 years and taking credit for drugs that 99% of Americans won’t have access to, is a slap in the face for people who are struggling with the repercussions of this virus every day, “he said.
In both states, Trump maintains a base of committed supporters who anger at what they perceive as a lack of personal respect from Democrats and the media.
Bill Brandyberry, a home inspector from Canton, Ohio, said he was offended by the speeches Mr. Trump took from Democrats and some reporters for taking off his mask on his return to the White House Monday night.
“They are having a big deal about how he took off the mask,” said Mr. Brandyberry. “I didn’t see anyone around him and he was out on the porch. Come on. That’s what I’m tired of.”
Mr. Brandyberry, 61, said her mother died of the coronavirus in May and that her cremated remains sit in the fireplace because restrictions in Pennsylvania, where she must be buried, limit funerals to 25 people.
However, he said he was more concerned about the prospect of a Biden administration than about Trump’s handling of the pandemic.
“Biden is going to divest the police, ruin the police departments, and then take my gun, and then what,” he said.
Mr. Biden has repeatedly said he opposes the defunding of the police and has proposed increasing federal aid to law enforcement, on terms.
The partisan division of the nation also colors voters’ perception of the severity of Trump’s illness. Republicans, with a margin of 79% to 10% in Ohio and 84% to 10% in Nevada, overwhelmingly believe that Mr. Trump will recover quickly from the virus. The plurality of Democrats in both states said it “will take weeks to recover”.
“I’m surprised he seems to have recovered quickly given what I’ve heard about the virus,” said Suzan Loda, a 62-year-old housewife from Winnemucca, Nev. “If those drugs were so effective in getting him right so quickly, I would like to see them available to everyone.”
Ms. Loda said she remained undecided in the presidential campaign, but was keen to support Mr. Trump.
Here are the cross tables for the survey.