IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Six months out, here's where the 2020 race between Trump and Biden stands

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: President Donald Trump leaves the briefing room at the White House on April 17, 2020.
President Donald Trump leaves the briefing room at the White House on April 17, 2020.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON — There’s good news and bad news for Joe Biden in our new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

We’ll start with the good news for him: Biden leads President Trump nationally by 7 points among all registered voters, 49 percent to 42 percent (though that’s down from his 9-point advantage a month ago).

And when the race is reduced to 11 swing states — Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — Biden’s combined lead over Trump is 6 points, 49 percent to 43 percent.

Demographically, he’s where a winning Democratic nominee usually wants to be: His biggest advantages are with African-American voters (where he leads Trump, 85 percent to 7 percent), Latinos (60 percent to 26 percent), voters ages 18-34 (54 percent to 31 percent), women (56 percent to 35 percent) and whites with a college degree (55 percent to 37 percent).

He’s also is at 42 percent among all white voters (Obama in 2012 was 39 percent here, and Hillary Clinton in 2016 was at 37 percent).

And Biden leads Trump among voters who have a negative opinion of both candidates, 60 percent to 10 percent. (In 2016, voters who had negative opinions of both Trump and Clinton broke overwhelmingly for Trump.)

But here’s the bad news for the former vice president: while he leads Trump by 20-plus points among voters 18-34, they have a net-negative personal opinion of him (a fav/unfav of 25 percent/44 percent), which is a definite warning sign for Biden.

When asked if they trust his statements about the coronavirus, a plurality of voters — 42 percent — said they weren’t aware of his statements or didn’t have an opinion, while 26 percent said they trusted him and 29 percent didn’t. (By comparison, Trump is at 36 percent trust, 52 percent don’t trust, and 10 percent not aware/no opinion.)

And finally, Biden trails Trump by 11 points on which candidate better handles the economy, 47 percent to 36 percent.

Bottom line: Biden’s in the driver’s seat, but there are definite warning signs for him with six months to go — even though the incumbent president has many more flashing lights for him in this poll.

Masters of disaster versus Trump

While the president leads Biden by 11 points in who better handles the economy, Biden is ahead of Trump by 9 points who better handles the coronavirus epidemic — and another 9 points on who better responds to a crisis.

And to show you how unprecedented it is for an incumbent president not to have the advantage on crisis handling, here’s this same poll question from past election cycles:

  • 2012: 46 percent Obama better handling a crisis, 34 percent Romney better (Aug 2012 NBC/WSJ poll).
  • 2004: 47 percent Bush better, 35 percent Kerry better (May 2004 Pew poll).
  • 1996: 47 percent Clinton better, 38 percent Dole better (March 1996 Pew poll).

But here are the numbers in our new NBC News/WSJ poll on who would better handle a crisis: Biden 47 percent, Trump 38 percent.

The NBC News/WSJ poll numbers on the coronavirus

As for the numbers on the coronavirus from our poll, 40 percent of American voters say they personally know someone who has been infected, but 77 percent are very or somewhat worried that someone in their family could get it.

Think about that: A majority in our poll (59 percent) don't know someone who’s gotten the virus, but an overwhelming majority (77 percent) are worried a loved one could get it.

That puts into perspective the headline from our poll: By a 58 percent-to-32 percent margin, voters say they are more concerned that relaxing stay-at-home restrictions would lead to more COVID-19 deaths than they are that the restrictions will hurt the U.S. economy

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

755,598: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 83,817 more than Friday morning.)

40,643: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 6,063 more than Friday morning).

3.88 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

52 percent: The share of American voters who say they don’t trust information provided by the president about the virus.

$450 billion: The price tag on a new potential compromise bill to replenish federal aid for small businesses and expand testing nationwide.

More than 100,000: The total number of coronavirus deaths in Europe

$7.96: The amount that industrial supply company W.W. Grainger Inc. charged the Department of Health and Human Services foreach protective coverall after buying them from Dupont for $4 apiece

$10 million: The amount of a government loan through the Paycheck Protection Program that burger chain Shake Shack is returning, saying that other restaurants need the funds more

288 percent: The increase in applications during the pandemic for volunteer programs in New York City, according to one tracker.

Stay on target, stay on target

Negotiators are getting closer to a Congressional deal on interim aid for coronavirus relief, per NBC’s Capitol Hill team. As of Sunday evening, negotiations between the White House, Congressional Republicans and Democrats have agreed to:

  • $310 billion for the paycheck protection program which includes $60 billion for rural and minority businesses;
  • $250 billion of that amount would be for the regular paycheck protection program;
  • $60 billion would be a carve-out for rural/minority/women businesses.

In addition to money for the paycheck protection program (which Republicans failed to pass as standalone legislation), this agreement would include:

  • $75 billion for hospitals;
  • Likely $25 billion for testing, but this is still being negotiated;
  • $60 billion for the small business disaster relief program.

Of course, the president still hasn’t signed off on this deal so nothing is decided yet. But in a sign of optimism, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer sent guidance to House members on Sunday night to prepare members that they may be needed to come back to Washington for a recorded vote on legislation as early as Wednesday morning.

The Lid: The China Syndrome

Don’t miss the pod from Friday, when we looked at the pro-Biden versus pro-Trump advertising war on the coronavirus and China.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Sixteen people, including a police officer, have died after a shooting in Nova Scotia.

Trump’s testing czar, Brett Giroir, was fired from a vaccine development project at Texas A&M in 2015.

Joe Biden was the winner in Wyoming’s all vote-by-mail presidential primary, taking 72 percent of the vote.

Vice President Mike Pence said on “Meet the Press” that the nation must open the economy again soon to ensure that “the cure isn’t worse than the disease.”

China is becoming a key 2020 issue in a series of new campaign ads.

The New York Times talks to Sanders supporters who are still Biden skeptics.

The RNC had a strong fundraising month in March, despite the pandemic.