Former Vice President Joe Biden has opened up a 13-point lead over Donald Trump in the key swing state of Florida, according to a poll out Thursday, yet another warning sign for the president as the state reels from a late-developing surge in coronavirus cases.
The Quinnipiac University poll shows Trump trailing Biden among registered voters in his adopted home state 51 percent to 38 percent.
That represents a 5-point climb for Biden and a 4-point drop for Trump since April 22 — before Florida’s coronavirus surge began — when a Quinnipiac poll showed a 4-point race between the two.
Since then, the must-win state for the president has become a global epicenter of the virus, shattering records when it recorded 15,000 new cases in a single day earlier this month. The state added 10,239 new cases on Thursday, and reported a record-high 173 deaths, after Ron DeSantis was among a handful of GOP governors to enthusiastically embrace Trump’s demands for a rapid reopening of the economy.
The GOP even moved its national convention to Florida from North Carolina after the Democratic governor there refused to allow the kind of massive gathering Trump envisioned for his renomination speech.
As a result, both men’s approval ratings, both in general and on the pandemic, have slipped. The survey found that approval of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus sat at 37 percent, down nearly 10 points from 46 percent in April. Nearly 6 in 10 voters disapprove of Trump’s coronavirus response now, compared with 51 percent in April.
In April, half of voters approved of DeSantis’ handling of coronavirus; that number is down to 38 in July, while disapproval has risen from 41 percent to 51 percent.
Florida voters are more confident in Biden’s ability to handle coronavirus, the poll found, with the former vice president leading Trump by 20 points — 58 to 38 percent — on who voters trust more to handle the pandemic.
The survey is yet another bearing bad news for the president, who has seen his numbers continue to slide as states across the country grapple with a coronavirus surge. Both national polling and surveys from battleground states have shown Biden with a growing lead.
According to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, Biden holds a 7-point lead in Florida, a state whose 29 Electoral College votes Trump won by less than 2 percent in 2016. That’s only a little less than Biden’s average national lead, which shows Trump trailing by 8.7 percentage points.
When it comes to plans to hold the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville in about a month, a majority of Florida voters, 62 percent, said they think it will be unsafe to do so, compared with 34 percent who say it will be safe. Among Republicans, however, nearly 7 in 10 voters think it will be safe to hold the convention, which party officials have considered moving outdoors and will be limiting attendance. A little over a quarter of GOP voters think it will not be safe to hold the convention next month.
The Quinnipiac University poll surveyed 925 self-identified registered voters in Florida by phone from July 16-20. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.