The Yahoo News/YouGov poll, rated “B” by 538, shows Joe Biden taking his biggest lead yet at 51% to 40% among likely voters surveyed October 16-18.
The president has struggled to rebound over the past three weeks from a widely panned first debate performance and a COVID-19 outbreak that sent him to the hospital and sickened others in and around the White House. Yet the main reason Trump appears to have fallen even further behind Biden in recent days is that coronavirus cases are peaking just as the campaign is coming to a close. On Friday, new daily cases cleared 70,000 nationwide for the first time since July; hospitalizations are increasing in 39 states, and are at or near their all-time peak in 16 states.
Voters are saying in increasing numbers that Biden would be better at handling the pandemic. The number of voters preferring Biden over Trump on this question has grown from seven percent two weeks ago to 19% in this survey, which is also the biggest lead for Biden.
Key demographic groups are moving away from Trump in response. Right now, the president is losing independents, 39 percent to 37 percent; he won them by 4 points in 2016. He is losing suburban voters by 14 points (50 percent to 36 percent); he also won them by 4 points in 2016. Trump’s current leads among white voters (7 points) and seniors (3 points) are less than half of what they were four years ago (20 points and 7 points, respectively). Nine percent of 2016 Trump voters now say they are voting for Biden; just 4 percent of 2016 Hillary Clinton voters say they are voting for Trump.
The number of people who told the pollsters they have already voted increased from 17% to 38% over the last week.