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Christina Animashaun/Vox

Exclusive: Biden leads Trump by 12 points in a national UT Dallas poll

The survey also finds that more stimulus is respondents’ top priority for a new Congress.

Former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump by more than 10 points in a national poll by researchers at the University of Texas Dallas. Fielded a few weeks prior to Election Day, the poll is among recent ones finding Biden with a steady lead.

The results, which are part of UT Dallas’s Cometrends survey, found Biden with 56 percent support and Trump with 44 percent support.

The poll — which included 2,500 respondents — is one of several recent surveys showing Biden ahead of Trump at the national level. It was fielded online between October 13 and October 26, with many of the responses coming in by October 17. The survey has a sampling margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points, and its results included a broad sample of respondents that have not been weighted for likely voters.

Overall, the survey finds broader support for Biden from some demographic groups than former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton received in 2016 exit polls. Among both men and white respondents overall, in particular, Biden’s backing in the UT Dallas survey is stronger. Fifty-four percent of men in the poll say they back Biden, compared to 41 percent who said they supported Clinton in a 2016 exit poll. Similarly, 44 percent of white respondents say they back Biden, compared to 37 percent who said they supported Clinton.

Comparisons of 2020 preelection polls and 2016 exit polls should be taken with a grain of salt. But they offer a rough sense of how Biden currently stands with various groups.

Biden also maintains a strong lead with women. His 14 percentage-point lead with women is notably higher than his 8 percentage-point lead with men. That’s an indication of how much women have turned away from Trump’s presidency, and of the influential role they could play in unseating him.

Biden leads as well among Black, Hispanic, and Asian respondents — lagging Trump only among white respondents. Turnout among voters of color saw a significant uptick during the 2018 midterms, compared to 2014, and if this trend holds for 2020, such energy could give Biden and other down-ballot Democrats a major boost.

Biden is in a stronger position than the president in all regions but the South. The two candidates are within just 2 percentage points of one another in the Midwest, the home to critical battleground states, including Michigan and Wisconsin. (Biden appears to be comfortably ahead in those states, with a somewhat smaller lead in Pennsylvania, according to the FiveThirtyEight polling averages.) In the Midwest, Biden is up 51 percent to 49 percent, and in the Northeast, he leads 64 percent to 36 percent. Meanwhile, in the South, Trump is up 51 percent to 49 percent and in the West he lags Biden 35 percent to 65 percent.

Across age groups, Biden maintains a significant advantage with everyone except respondents 55 and older, among whom Trump leads by 6 percentage points. As Vox’s Ella Nilsen has reported, Biden has made serious inroads with this group of voters, however, compared to Clinton. Slight shifts of support among this older demographic could have an outsized influence on high races in swing states with relatively large numbers of older voters, like Florida.

Many seniors who’ve changed their allegiance in favor of Biden have cited Trump’s failed response to coronavirus and muddled commitment to programs like Social Security, Nilsen noted. Overall, however, Trump still appears to have a solid base among them, however.

The UT Dallas poll adds to data affirming the continued stability of the race. Currently, the FiveThirtyEight national polling average has Biden ahead, with 51.8 percent support, and Trump with 42.9 percent support.

Biden is peeling off some Republicans

The UT Dallas survey reveals that Biden appears to be winning over a segment of Republicans.

According to the poll, 9 percent of Republicans say they’re backing Biden, while 56 percent of independents are as well. This cross-over support — which has been evident in endorsements from former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich — could be key for Biden in closely contested states like Arizona, where some Trump voters are turned off by the president’s rhetoric and open to a Democratic alternative.

In terms of respondents who previously backed Trump in 2016, 7 percent said they plan to flip this cycle for Biden, and 5 percent of former Clinton supporters say they’re planning to back Trump.

Voters who flipped from former President Barack Obama to Trump in 2016 were among those who made the difference in key states like Ohio last cycle. And their decisions to either stick with or abandon Trump will likely have a notable impact this year as well, as Vox’s Dylan Scott has reported.

Economic stimulus is respondents’ top legislative priority

With the election fast approaching, survey respondents are also concerned about down-ballot races — and what legislation will and won’t get passed in a new congressional term.

UT Dallas’s poll found that regardless of which party is controlling the House and Senate, 42 percent of respondents said getting more stimulus get approved is their top legislative priority.

More stimulus has not been a priority for Republicans in the Senate, however, who have refused to take up the House’s plan. And as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House continue to hash out the details of a new stimulus agreement, it’s looking like Congress won’t approve another coronavirus stimulus package until after the election takes place.

Second on the list of most important legislative issues was the expansion of health care coverage and the creation of a new public health insurance plan — 14 percent said they’d like to see Congress make that a top priority.

Millions of families across the country are navigating unemployment, evictions, and business closures. The survey results are a reminder that the need for additional government aid in the form of expanded unemployment insurance — and state and local support — is still as pressing as ever. The next Congress will need to work quickly to address these major challenges.

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