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2020 Election Updates: Polls Suggest Trump Is Losing His Edge on the Economy

2020 Election Updates: Polls Suggest Trump Is Losing His Edge on the Economy

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ImageFormer Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. delivered remarks on rebuilding the American economy at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday.
Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

New national polls show President Trump slipping behind his Democratic challenger, Joseph R. Biden Jr., on the issue that had been the cornerstone of his re-election efforts: the economy.

As recently as last month, even as Mr. Biden led the presidential race, a majority of voters said they trusted Mr. Trump more on economic matters. But a poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University showed Mr. Biden edging ahead on that question, 50 percent to 45 percent. Quinnipiac found that 53 percent of registered voters disapproved of Mr. Trump’s handling of the economy, and polls from CNBC and the Democratic firm Navigator Research found similar disapproval numbers.

Another poll, from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal, showed a different picture: 54 percent approval for Mr. Trump’s handling of the economy. But the cumulative message of Wednesday’s polling was a warning for Mr. Trump as the coronavirus surges and the economy, which had briefly improved after its pandemic-induced crash earlier this year, falters again.

All of the polls showed Mr. Biden leading Mr. Trump over all. In the Quinnipiac survey, he led by 15 percentage points, nearly double the margin he had in the same poll last month; in the NBC/Wall Street Journal survey, he led by 11 points.

The Quinnipiac poll also found that voters, by large margins, believed Mr. Biden would be better than Mr. Trump at handling a crisis (57 percent to 38 percent), handling health care (58-35), responding to the coronavirus (59-35) and addressing racial inequality (62-30). The margin of error was plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.

“Yes, there’s still 16 weeks until Election Day, but this is a very unpleasant real-time look at what the future could be for President Trump,” Tim Malloy, a Quinnipiac analyst, said of his organization’s poll. “There is no upside, no silver lining, no encouraging trend hidden somewhere in this survey for the president.”

Mr. Trump has consistently had higher approval ratings on economic issues than for his overall performance, and he has made economic appeals a centerpiece of his pitch to voters. Especially as the pandemic increases in political relevance he badly needs that economic approval to bolster him. According to Quinnipiac, 53 percent of registered voters had either contracted Covid-19 or personally knew someone who had, and 62 percent said they believed Mr. Trump was “hurting rather than helping” efforts to combat the pandemic.

His campaign clearly understands that fact: On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence sought to portray Mr. Biden as a threat to the economy.

On a conference call with reporters, Mr. Pence promoted the Trump administration’s economic record, criticized Mr. Biden for proposing tax increases and suggested that Mr. Biden’s policies were “being driven by the radical left.”

“If the American people were to elect Joe Biden,” he said, “it would devastate our economy.”

Mr. Biden was one of several public figures whose Twitter accounts were breached on Wednesday by hackers promoting a Bitcoin scam.

A tweet sent from Mr. Biden’s account at 5:22 p.m. said that for the next 30 minutes, he would double any amount of Bitcoin sent to a specific account: “If you send $1,000,” the tweet read, “I will send back $2,000.”

Identical tweets were sent from the accounts of Bill Gates, Elon Musk, former President Barack Obama and others.

Twitter locked down Mr. Biden’s account “immediately following the breach and removed the related tweet,” his campaign said in a statement. “We remain in touch with Twitter on the matter.”


Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

With one contentious intraparty Senate battle behind them in Alabama, Republicans are now looking next door to Georgia, where Mr. Trump spoke in Atlanta on the rebuilding of America’s infrastructure. The state has two Republican senators who are trying to keep their seats — Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue — even as Mr. Trump’s own political standing in the state appears shakier than ever.

Georgia has started drifting away from Mr. Trump in recent weeks, the latest sign of how imperiled his re-election hopes are — and how his unpopularity is endangering his party’s chances of holding onto the Senate. In 2016, he won the state by five percentage points. But a series of recent polls have shown that a tight race is developing between Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden. Some polls, including one released by Fox News late last month, have shown Mr. Biden beating the president in the state.

At the infrastructure event, Mr. Trump recognized both senators and praised them. He called Mr. Perdue “a very, very special man” who has done “a phenomenal job,” and he described Ms. Loeffler as “a woman who’s come in and done a great job,” adding that “she has been so supportive of me and the agenda.”

The fact that Mr. Trump would feel the need to visit to Georgia, instead of one of the states he so narrowly won in 2016, is further evidence of how his mishandling of the coronavirus and failure to alleviate the country’s anger over racial inequality have left him vulnerable.

Georgia Democrats sought to frame the Trump visit as the latest evidence of his mishandling of the coronavirus. Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the disputed 2018 governor’s race to Brian Kemp, said Wednesday the president has proved himself incapable of handling the pandemic.

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“We know that Trump’s incompetence and failures and his coronavirus response is just the latest in a three-year chain of actions that have disproportionately hurt African-Americans as well as Latinos and Asians in the United States, and particularly here in the state of Georgia,” Ms. Abrams told reporters on a video conference call. “His incompetence and his failures have inflicted disaster after disaster on African-Americans, and that’s never been more apparent than in the last several months.”

a The backdrop for Mr. Trump’s visit is a fight between two Republicans who are competing for the Senate seat that was held by Johnny Isakson until his retirement late last year. Ms. Loeffler, who was appointed by Mr. Kemp to fill the vacancy, has to stand for election this year. But Representative Doug Collins, who represents the northern part of the state in Congress, is running against her. Mr. Trump also recognized Mr. Collins at the infrastructure event, calling him “an incredible spokesman, an incredible man and friend.”

Ms. Loeffler is backed by the Republican leadership but has baggage: She faces questions about stock trades she made soon after being briefed about the threat of the virus. Mr. Collins, who has been an ally to the president as a House member, has pitched himself as the candidate who would be most faithful to Mr. Trump’s agenda. The president has not made an endorsement in the race.

Then there is the matter of Georgia’s other senator, Mr. Perdue, who is up for re-election. His seat was once considered safe, but Republican strategists say they are increasingly worried about losing to the Democratic nominee, Jon Ossoff.

A new ad from the Trump campaign paints a dystopian future if Mr. Biden wins in November, stoking division and fear as it repeatedly mischaracterizes Mr. Biden’s position on police reform.

Hewing to a strategy that dates back to his first campaign ad in 2016, which falsely depicted immigrants as violent criminals, the new ad comes as Mr. Trump trails the former vice president in several national and battleground state polls, spurring him to reach for additional lines of attack.

The president has been whipsawing from seemingly divergent — and even contradictory — messages, including attempting to paint Mr. Biden as weak on crime while also attacking him for his role in the 1994 crime bill, which critics say led to over-policing and mass incarceration. He’s repeatedly tried to portray Mr. Biden as a “radical” left-wing candidate, despite Mr. Biden’s decades-long career as a moderate Democrat.

The scattershot criticism in the ad mimics Mr. Trump’s hourlong, meandering stream of consciousness remarks at the White House yesterday, when a scheduled news conference quickly morphed into a directionless attack on Mr. Biden. Mr. Trump touched on China, the coronavirus, the Paris climate change accord, his friendship with the president of Mexico, the death penalty, schools and crumbling highways. And more.

The ad begins with a scene from a fictionalized police station, empty with phones ringing off the hook, before scenes of violence and unrest from recent protests flicker across the screen. A narrator warns of “radical left-wing mobs” and asks, “who will be there to answer the call when your children aren’t safe?”

The ad mischaracterizes multiple statements from Mr. Biden. Misleading editing makes it appear that Mr. Biden is saying “yes” to defunding the police, using footage from an interview with the liberal activist Ady Barkan. Asked by Mr. Barkan if “we agree that we can redirect some of the funding,” Mr. Biden, who has said repeatedly does not support defunding the police, replied: “Yes. Absolutely.”

The ad also attempts to absolve Mr. Trump for “violent crime exploding” and somehow blame Mr. Biden, who holds no elected office at the moment. The ad points to rising shootings in Chicago that have killed multiple children over summer weekends.

Mr. Trump has poured money into television ads in July, having spent $27 million in the past two weeks, with at least $7 million more in reservations for the rest of the month. Mr. Biden, by comparison, has spent $9 million so far in July, with roughly another $4 million in reservations, according to Advertising Analytics, an ad tracking firm.


Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

Mr. Biden, who has been unusually open about his search for a running mate, said in a new interview that he was “getting closer” to finding one, shedding fresh light on his time frame.

“The background checks that have been done are coming to a conclusion within the next week to 10 days,” he said in an interview with 12 News, a Phoenix TV station, that aired Tuesday. He and his team, he said, will “narrow down the list, and then interview those folks that are left on the list.”

Mr. Biden has said he hopes to announce a running mate by early August.

He said in an interview with 12 News that he was looking for someone who “shares the same value set I have and is going to be an ally in making sure that we get things done.”

Here’s a list of contenders thought to be under consideration.

In the interview, and in another he gave to a CBS affiliate in Charlotte, Mr. Biden — who has faced criticism over his work on the 1994 crime bill, which many experts associate with increased mass incarceration — also defended his record, while calling for the police to be held to a higher standard now.

Asked in the Phoenix interview how his thinking on crime had changed since the 1990s, Mr. Biden replied: “Well, it hasn’t changed a whole lot in the sense that I don’t think we should be defunding police departments. I think we should be holding police departments responsible.”

But he said that the nation, rocked all summer by an outcry over police brutality and racism, needed a “wake-up call” to end racial injustice and overhaul the criminal justice system.

“There’s a lot we’ve learned,” he said. “It’s important that we make sure that we have decency and honor in the way in which we conduct our politics and conduct policing.”


Credit…Mark Makela for The New York Times

Mr. Biden leads Mr. Trump 53 percent to 40 percent among registered voters in Pennsylvania, the Democrat’s largest lead in any public poll of the state this year, according to a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday.

The poll shows Mr. Biden with a 10-point lead among voters 65 and older, a stark reversal from Mr. Trump’s 10-point victory among the same demographic in 2016.

It also shows that while Mr. Biden has consolidated support from virtually every Democratic voter surveyed — just 1 percent oppose him — Mr. Trump is bleeding support among Republicans, 12 percent of whom back Mr. Biden. In a state that four years ago was decided by fewer than 45,000 votes out of more than 6 million cast, such intraparty defections could doom a candidacy.

Mr. Biden’s strength among older voters poses a significant risk to Mr. Trump outside of Pennsylvania. Key battleground states such as Arizona and Florida have disproportionate populations of retirees, who normally tend to vote Republican. If Mr. Biden and Democrats win a majority of older voters this fall, that could spell disaster for Republican candidates down the ballot, too.

Despite Mr. Biden’s commanding lead, the poll found Pennsylvania voters, by a slight margin, believe Mr. Trump will carry the state, 46 percent to 45 percent. That’s because 57 percent of those polled said they believe there are “secret voters in your community who support Donald Trump but won’t tell anyone about it.”

College football coaches like Tommy Tuberville, the Republican who defeated Jeff Sessions to become the party’s candidate for a Senate seat representing Alabama, spend much of their professional life watching “game tape” of their opponents to prepare for a matchup.

It appears the Alabama Democrats have been watching some Tuberville game tape of their own.

For Mr. Tuberville’s first morning as the Republican nominee, the Alabama Democrats unleashed a combative Twitter burst, and the state party let loose a torrent of criticism directed at Mr. Tuberville’s football record and political positions.

They recalled his loss to Vanderbilt while he was the coach at Auburn University, a game that was nationally televised and an embarrassment for the football powerhouse, and his 36-0 defeat at the final Iron Bowl game (a historic rivalry between Auburn and Alabama).

They also criticized Mr. Tuberville’s treatment, while he was coach of Auburn, of a player who had been charged with rape.

The morning outburst quickly sent the Alabama Democrats’ Twitter account trending nationally; the group attempted to capitalize on the popularity of their tweets by including links to their ActBlue fund-raising page.

The Alabama Republican Party was largely silent on Twitter on Wednesday, while Mr. Tuberville retweeted a news account of his victory last night.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday before leaving the White House to travel to Georgia, Mr. Trump praised Mr. Tuberville and criticized the incumbent Democratic senator, Doug Jones.

“I’m very happy that Tommy Tuberville won the race,” Mr. Trump said. “I think he’s going to be a great senator. We don’t have a good senator in there right now.”




Jeff Sessions Loses in Alabama

Mr. Sessions lost a Republican runoff election for the Senate seat he held before becoming President Trump’s first attorney general.

To the people of Alabama, I want to thank you for your support over the years. We fought a good fight in this race, and we’ve taken our case to the people of Alabama and the people of Alabama have spoken, and they want a new leader, a new fresh face to go to Washington. I think we’re going to have that. I want to congratulate Tommy Tuberville. He ran a really firm, solid race. He was focused on his goal and on winning. He had a plan to do so. And he was able to do so. He is our Republican nominee. We must stand behind him in November.

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Mr. Sessions lost a Republican runoff election for the Senate seat he held before becoming President Trump’s first attorney general.CreditCredit…September Dawn Bottoms/The New York Times

Mr. Sessions spent his final days on the campaign trail reiterating his support for Mr. Trump’s agenda, reminding voters of his efforts to curb illegal immigration while attorney general and emphasizing how, as a senator, he had endorsed Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign at a time when few others in Washington would.

But in the end, it wasn’t enough. And in truth, after Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Sessions’s opponent, it probably never was.

On Tuesday, Mr. Sessions fell far short in the runoff election to Mr. Tuberville, whose platform was largely a blanket promise to support the president at all times.

“People in Alabama voted against Jeff Sessions because Donald Trump told them to,” said Angi Stalnaker, a Republican strategist in Alabama. “If it had been Donald Trump saying, ‘Go write in Mickey Mouse,’ 50 percent of them would have gone to write in Mickey Mouse.”

The Lincoln Project, a Republican-run super PAC that seeks to run viral ads that irritate Mr. Trump, raised nearly $17 million in the second quarter, with donations from some of the Democratic Party’s biggest donors.

Contributors included David Geffen, the film producer, who gave $100,000; Joshua Bekenstein, the chairman of Bain Capital, who contributed $100,000; and Stephen Mandel, an investor who gave $1 million. Ron Conway, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, contributed $50,000, after contributing another $50,000 in the first three months of the year. Amos Hostetter, who in March contributed $250,000 to a super PAC supporting Mr. Biden, gave another $100,000 to the Lincoln Project in June.

It was not all big money. The Lincoln Project, whose ads seem almost custom-designed to go viral among Democratic activists on Twitter and other social media platforms, raised just under half its funds, about $7.6 million, from donations of less than $200. The group has recently expanded from being chiefly an anti-Trump operation to also targeting some Republican senators who it accuses of being “enablers” of Mr. Trump.

In the pre-pandemic political universe, Democrats planned to hold their convention in Milwaukee this week, while Republicans were scheduled to gather in Charlotte in August. Needless to say, a lot has changed.

New York Times political reporters Katie Glueck, Annie Karni, Lisa Lerer and Jennifer Medina will gather (virtually) on Thursday at 5 p.m. Eastern to talk about everything convention-related, and the latest on this unusual political summer. Rachel Dry, deputy politics editor, will host.

There is one question they won’t be able to field from personal experience. And that is: What is it like to give a career-defining speech in the bright lights of a convention hall? For that answer, and thoughts on how the Democratic Party is responding to the challenges of the moment, Julián Castro, the former housing secretary, mayor of San Antonio and 2020 candidate, will be in conversation with Ms. Medina.

RSVP here to join the discussion.


Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Candidates for House and Senate must file new fund-raising reports today, and Republicans are bracing for another round of filings that show Democrats building a financial advantage in some key races.

The reports will cover the period from April 1 through June 30.

Ahead of the deadline, some Democratic candidates for Senate have announced their quarterly hauls, including Jaime Harrison of South Carolina ($13.9 million), Amy McGrath of Kentucky ($17.4 million) and Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana ($7.7 million). Now their Republican opponents must open up their books, too.

The new filings show that Jeffrey Sprecher, the husband of Ms. Loeffler, the Georgia senator, donated $468,500 to a joint committee for the National Republican Senatorial Committee and various state parties. On the same day, April 29, Mr. Sprecher donated $1 million to a pro-Trump super PAC, America First. Ms. Loeffler has garnered the support of the N.R.S.C. in her primary.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden do not have to release their reports for June until early next week, but committees that they operate jointly with the Democratic and Republican parties will file on Wednesday, offering a view into some of the largest donors sinking money in the presidential contest.

Representative Steve Watkins, Republican of Kansas, was charged with three felonies related to voter fraud on Tuesday, shortly before a televised debate in which he dismissed the accusations involving a municipal election as a political move.

The district attorney of Shawnee County, Mike Kagay, charged Mr. Watkins with three felonies: interference with law enforcement by providing false information, voting without being qualified and unlawful advance voting. Mr. Watkins was also charged with failing to notify the state motor vehicle agency of a change of address, a misdemeanor.

Mr. Watkins changed his voter registration address to a UPS store last year before voting in a City Council race that was decided by 13 votes, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

During the primary debate on Tuesday night, Mr. Watkins, a first-term representative, said that he had accidentally put his mailing address instead of his physical address on his voter registration form and that he had corrected the error as soon as he became aware of it.

He said the charges were an attempt to undermine his credibility in the upcoming election.

“This is clearly hyper-political,” Mr. Watkins said. “It comes out moments before our first debate and three weeks before the election. I haven’t done anything wrong.”

Mr. Trump and other Republican officials have claimed, without evidence, that mail-in voting could create opportunities for fraudulent election results in November. But election experts agree that voter fraud is extremely rare in the United States.

Across sparsely populated Southwest Texas, the hunt is on for uncounted votes. At least seven. That’s the vote difference in Texas’s sprawling 23rd Congressional District between Tony Gonzales and Raul Reyes, both running for the Republican nomination.

“This isn’t over folks,” Mr. Reyes told his followers on Facebook after coming up short by seven votes. “We owe it to you to fight to the end.”

He received 12,339 votes compared to 12,346 for Mr. Gonzales. Some absentee, provisional and overseas ballots remain to be counted, and the campaigns were contacting all 29 counties to determine how many.

Mr. Gonzales, meanwhile, declared victory on Facebook, and his campaign announced the hiring of two lawyers with expertise in elections — Chris Gober and J.D. Pauerstein — to head up a “ballot integrity” legal team.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Mr. Trump seemed inclined to hedge his bet — he endorsed Mr. Gonzales — saying that the race is “still a little bit going on,” then adding that “Reyes is a great candidate and so is Gonzales.”

Any delay in declaring a Republican winner is not likely to be helpful in the party’s chances to retain a seat being vacated by Texas Representative Will Hurd, who did not seek re-election to a fourth term.

Democrats have viewed the 23rd District as one of their best opportunities to win a Republican-held seat. Their candidate, Gina Ortiz Jones, who lost to Mr. Hurd by 926 votes in 2018, is running again in the sprawling district, which covers all or parts of 29 counties between San Antonio and El Paso.

Elsewhere in Texas, Democrats chose candidates in two districts long held by Republicans that party officials believe will be competitive this year.

In the 31st District, which covers suburbs north of Austin, Donna Imam, a tech engineer, defeated Christine Eady Mann, a physician, for the Democratic nomination to face nine-term Representative John Carter, a Republican. No Democrat had come with in 20 percentage points of Mr. Carter until 2018, when he defeated M.J. Hegar, now a Senate nominee, by less than three points.

And in the 24th District, in the suburbs between Dallas and Fort Worth, Democrats nominated Candace Valenzuela, who would be the first Afro-Latina in Congress. A win from her would replace Representative Kenny Marchant, a Republican who had won each of his elections by at least 15 points until 2018, when he won by just 3 points against a Democrat who spent less than $100,000 on her campaign.


Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, the former White House physician with no political experience who ran a campaign based on his close relationship with Mr. Trump, won a Republican runoff election for a House seat in Texas on Tuesday night, effectively stamping his ticket to Congress next year.

Dr. Jackson’s victory in the 13th Congressional District was hailed by the Trump campaign, which had helped prop him up.

It was something of a comeback for Dr. Jackson, a retired Navy rear admiral who left the West Wing in December after becoming Mr. Trump’s unlikely choice to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. He withdrew his name from consideration amid allegations related to his professional conduct.

After moving home to Texas, Dr. Jackson hoped to make a fresh start, running in a crowded Republican primary to replace the retiring Representative Mac Thornberry.

Dr. Jackson made a series of novice mistakes that could have derailed any congressional campaign. He relied on a “horse doctor” with a full-time job to run his campaign. His wife, Jane, doubled as his chauffeur, and she even took on the job of putting up lawn signs and replacing them after they were defaced. Before the coronavirus struck, the couple wasted hours knocking on doors during work hours, when no one was home. And they agreed to attend events where the majority of the crowd was from neighboring Oklahoma and couldn’t vote for Dr. Jackson.

But after Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, his girlfriend and a top fund-raising official for the president’s re-election campaign, realized that Dr. Jackson’s campaign was in trouble, they asked senior members of Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign to step in. The campaign helped with logistical support that fueled Dr. Jackson’s improved fund-raising.

Reporting was contributed by Maggie Astor, Evan Nicole Brown, Nick Corasaniti, Reid J. Epstein, Manny Fernandez, Katie Glueck, Shane Goldmacher, Thomas Kaplan, Annie Karni, Sarah Mervosh, Jeremy W. Peters, Elaina Plott, Jim Tankersley and Will Wright.

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