As the nation continues to reel from the economic recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic, more Americans see Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as empathetic to those who lost their jobs than President Donald Trump, according to a new survey.
Almost two in three (64%) Americans say Biden cares about those who lost their job, while just more than half (52%) say the same about Trump, according to a survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project.
The survey comes amid stalled bipartisan talks for a second COVID-19 stimulus bill, which were halted by Trump earlier this week. However, Trump has seemingly walked back that directive, telling Fox Business Thursday morning that “very productive” talks on the stimulus were still happening.
In addition, 840,000 workers applied for unemployment benefits last week, according to a report from the Labor Department. Although that number is down slightly from 849,000 the week before, it is still considered high.
Robert Griffin, research director for the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, said Biden is often seen broadly as empathetic to voters because of their familiarity with his his personal tragedies, including losing his wife and young daughter in a car accident decades ago and the death of his son Beau in recent years.
Griffin noted that while sometimes voters can perceive a candidate as empathetic but still vote along party lines, the country’s general unease and voters’ perceptions of how the candidates are responding likely will influence votes.
“The empathy gap that we’re spotting between the two candidates just might well be very important,” Griffin said.
This most recent survey shows similar sentiments to a previous survey that showed Americans viewed Biden as more empathetic than Trump. Last month, a combined 70% of Americans described Biden as caring about those sick with COVID-19, while just less than half (49%) said the same about Trump, according to a survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project.
The Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project is a large-scale study of the American electorate designed to conduct 500,000 interviews about policies and the presidential candidates during the 2020 election cycle. The most recent poll was done Sept. 24 to Sept. 30, with 6,201 Americans surveyed. The margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.
While there is a partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans about who they say cares about those who have lost their jobs, all other breakdowns, including by race and ethnicity, age and income level, show Biden is seen as more caring.
The partisan differences are what you might imagine, When asked how well the statement “cares about people who lost their jobs” describes Biden and Trump, 88% of Democrats said it described Biden somewhat or very well, while 23% of Democrats said the same for Trump.
Among Republicans, 84% said that statement describes Trump somewhat or very well, while 44% said the same of Biden. More than half (56%) of independents believe that statements describe Biden, compared with 41% who believe that of Trump.
How Americans perceive Trump could spell bad news for the president, as voters are already casting ballots for the election. More than 6 million Americans have already early voted for the November election. He has less than a month to change voters’ opinion on this and other issues where he may trail Biden.
Other breakdowns include:
- 62% of men say Biden cares about people who lose their jobs, while 57% of men said the same for Trump
- The divide is larger among women, with 67% saying Biden cares compared to the 46% who say Trump does.
- Among those who make $0-$39,999, 62% believe that statement describes Biden, while 47% believe is describes Trump. Those were similar numbers for Biden (64%) and Trump (47%) among those who make $40,000-$74,999
- The gap between the candidates is a bit smaller among those who make $125,000 and more, with 70% say that statement describes Biden, compared with 58% for Trump
- Trump does best among white Americans, with 56% saying he cares about people who lost their jobs. Biden is at 61%
- Among Black Americans, 76% say Biden cares about people who have lost their jobs, compared with 35% of Black Americans who say Trump does.
- Among Latinos, Biden gets 70% agreement while Trump gets 47%.
- And among Asian and Pacific Islanders, Biden gets 73% agreement while Trump gets 48%.
In addition, while every age group is more likely to see Biden as caring about those who have lost their jobs, there is a particularly strong divide between the candidates among seniors, according to the Nationscape Insights analysis, a project of Democracy Fund, UCLA and USA TODAY. Americans 65 and older have the largest gap, with 70% saying Biden cares about those who have lost their jobs, compared with 45% for Trump.
Griffin said that even before the pandemic, seniors’ views on Trump were shifting and the president was losing support from that key voting bloc. That shift became even more apparent amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They already shifted,” Griffin said of senior voters. “But there was an additional stair step that occurred … roughly lining up with all these events occurring post February.”