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Between the economy and coronavirus pandemic, Biden keeps his advantage nationally: POLL – ABC News

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Biden’s 54%-44% advantage over Trump in a two-way contest precisely matches the last national ABC/Post poll in mid-August. Biden’s support slips to 49% when the Libertarian and Green Party candidates are included, versus 43% for Trump.

The results underscore Trump’s precarious position as the first president in 81 years of modern polling never to achieve majority approval for his work in office. He’s at 44% approval among all Americans, ranging from 52% for handling the economy to 40% on the coronavirus outbreak. Fifty-eight percent disapprove of his performance on the pandemic, a key to Biden’s support.

At the same time, the presence of Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins could pose a challenge to Biden in close states. Biden’s 5-point decline when these candidates are included is a significant, albeit slight, shift.

See PDF for full results, charts and tables.

Biden continues to trail Trump, by 20 percentage points, in strong enthusiasm among their respective likely voters in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Still, another measure finds broad antipathy toward Trump: Among those who don’t support him, 59% say his reelection would be a crisis for the country. Among those not backing Biden, fewer — but still 50% — say it’d be a crisis if he won.

It’s true, as well, that national preferences don’t always reflect Electoral College outcomes, as was the case in 2016 and 2000. Recent ABC/Post state-level polls found virtually even races in Florida and Arizona and a close contest in Wisconsin, although a wide Biden lead in Minnesota, which Trump has sought to contest.

Trump and Biden meet Tuesday in their first presidential campaign debate.

Change?

What’s likely to matter more is turnout, a question complicated this year by pandemic-related concerns. Just 46% of likely voters plan to cast their ballot in person on Election Day; 50% instead plan to vote early or absentee. Who goes through with it is highly consequential: Trump leads by 19 points, 58%-39%, among Election Day voters, while it’s Biden by more than a 2-1 margin, 67%-31%, among those who intend to vote before then.

Issues

The pandemic, of course, has disrupted far more than balloting plans. Sixty-two percent of adults worry that they or an immediate family member may catch the virus, which has claimed more than 200,000 American lives. Likely voters who express this concern favor Biden, 71%-27%.

The economy, even in a pandemic-prompted recession, works better for Trump. While just 40% of Americans say it’s in good shape, that’s up from 31% just last month. And Trump leads by 82%-17% among likely voters who rate the economy positively. Further, a quarter call the economy the top issue in their vote, and those economy-focused voters favor Trump by 80%-18%.

That said, in a head-to-head test, the two candidates run very closely in trust to handle the economy, 49%-46%, Trump-Biden. And other results on trust are revealing: While Trump has hit hard on the issue of crime and safety, it’s Biden who’s slightly ahead in trust to handle it, 50%-44%. Biden leads by eight points in trust to handle the next Supreme Court nomination (as reported Friday), 11 points on the pandemic, 16 points on health care and 20 points on equal treatment of racial groups.

Trust on crime is about the same in the suburbs, 50%-46%, Biden-Trump, as nationally overall. Suburban men trust Trump more on crime by 20 points, but suburban women — a group Trump has focused on — trust Biden more, by 61%-37%. That tilts to Biden because of the share of suburban women — about 1 in 3 — who are racial or ethnic minorities. (Among suburban white women, it’s 51%-46%, Biden-Trump.)

There’s one warning flare here for Biden: His lead on trust to handle the pandemic has shrunk from 20 points during the summertime surge in cases in mid-July, 54%-34%, to today’s 11-point margin, 51%-40%.

As noted, the economy leads as the most important issue, with no consensus on what comes next. Seventeen percent pick the pandemic as their top issue, and likely voters who say so support Biden by 84%-13%. About as many say it’s either health care or equal treatment of racial groups; again more than 8 in 10 in both of these groups back Biden. Twelve percent cite crime and safety as their main concern — and in this group, 84% support Trump. Lastly, 11% focus on the next Supreme Court nomination, with closer vote preferences, 54%-45%, Biden-Trump.

In another delineating result, the public by 54%-42% supports recent protests against police treatment of Black people. Eight in 10 supporters of these protests favor Biden; 77% of opponents are with Trump.

Across issues, these results illuminate the logic of the current campaign, as Trump touts economic recovery and raises crime concerns while Biden pushes on the pandemic response, health care and equal treatment, and both navigate the trickier Supreme Court issue.

Third party

The impact of third-party candidates may be tough to gauge, since the pandemic has constrained their campaigns just as it has Trump’s and Biden’s. This survey asked two-candidate preferences first, then re-asked the question with Jorgensen and Hawkins added. Biden, as noted goes from 54% to 49% with these two included; that decline is significant at the 90% confidence level, as opposed to the conventional standard, 95%.

Trump moving from 44% to 43% is not statistically significant. Four percent express support for Jorgensen, who’s on the ballot in all 50 states; 3% for Hawkins, who’s on the ballot in 28 states. (In 2016, the Libertarian won 3%, the Green candidate, 1%.)

Groups

Using two-candidate preferences, huge gaps are evident across population groups. Trump leads by 13 points among men; Biden, by a wide 31 points among women. Trump’s up 6 points against Biden among nongraduates, while Biden leads by 30 points among college grads. The race is close among likely voters age 50 and older, while those younger than 30 back Biden by nearly 2-1 (using registered voters for an adequate sample size).

Unpeeling some groups demonstrates the depth of the gender gap, in particular. While the race is a close 52-47%, Biden-Trump, in the suburbs, that’s 60-38%, Trump-Biden, among suburban men, compared with 66-34%, Biden-Trump, among suburban women. And it’s Trump up 8 among men who are political independents, versus a 77%-20% Biden-Trump blowout among independent women.

In another sharp difference, evangelical white Protestants, a core Republican group, support Trump by an expected 75%-25% — but non-evangelical white Protestants go 58%-41%, Biden-Trump. (White Protestants account for nearly 3 in 10 likely voters; 57% are evangelicals, the rest not.)

Notable, too, is that Trump and Biden are dead even, 49%-49%, in households that include a veteran or active-duty member of the military; these generally are thought to be a more pro-GOP group. Trump took criticism in the past month for reports that he had disparaged military service, which he denied.

Among other groupings, Biden leads by 54%-42% in the 13 states that currently are the most contested by the candidates (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin). Moreover, it’s Biden by 20 points in the blue states won by Hillary Clinton, while dead even, 49%-49%, in the 2016 red states. Trump won those states four years ago by 53%-42%.

2016 comparisons

Comparisons to 2016, based on ABC News exit poll results, are telling. Among the most striking differences:

  • Clinton won political moderates by 12 points. Biden leads among them by 47 points, 72%-25%.
  • Clinton won independent women by four points. As noted, Biden leads among them by a remarkable 57 points.
  • Trump won whites by 20 points in 2016; he’s up six points among whites now. One reason: White women have switched from plus-9 points for Trump in 2016 to plus-15 points for Biden now, 57%-42%. That includes a vast shift among college-educated white women, from up 7 points for Clinton to up 41 points for Biden now.
  • Clinton won college-educated voters overall by 10 points; as noted, Biden now leads in this group by 30 points. In addition to college-educated white women, the change is sharp among people with postgraduate degrees, from up 21 points for Clinton four years ago to up 47 points for Biden now.
  • Non-evangelical white Protestants, as mentioned, support Biden by a 17-point margin; that compares to essentially an even split in 2016, 48%-45%, Trump-Clinton.
  • Trump, at the same time, has retained and even consolidated his core support groups. Overall, among 2020 likely voters who report having supported him in 2016, 91% support him now. He’s backed by 87% of conservatives, who account for a substantial 36% of all likely voters. And while Biden would be just the second Catholic president, white Catholics — an on-again, off-again swing voter group — side with Trump, 55%-44%.

    Methodology

    This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Sept. 21 to 24, 2020, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,008 adults, including 889 registered voters and 739 likely voters. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including design effects, for the full sample and registered voters, and 4.0 points for likely voters. Partisan divisions are 31%-27%-37%, Democrats-Republicans-independents, among all respondents; 33%-29%-35% among registered voters; and 33%-32%-32% among likely voters.

    The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, with sampling and data collection by Abt Associates of Rockville, Maryland. See details on the survey’s methodology here.

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    Economy

    Why the Best G.D.P. Report Ever Won’t Mean the Economy Has Healed – The New York Times

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    The United States almost certainly just experienced its fastest three months of economic growth on record. That doesn’t mean the economy is strong.

    The Commerce Department on Thursday will release its preliminary estimate of economic growth for the third quarter. Economists surveyed by FactSet expect it to show that gross domestic product — the broadest measure of goods and services produced in the United States — grew about 7 percent from the second quarter, or 30 percent on an annualized basis (more about that in a bit).

    If those forecasts are even close to correct, it would represent the fastest growth since reliable records began after World War II. Until now, the best quarter was a 3.9 percent gain (16.7 percent annualized) in 1950.

    This G.D.P. report will be particularly closely watched, arriving as the last major piece of economic data before Election Day next Tuesday.

    But it doesn’t make sense to think about Thursday’s report in isolation. The third quarter’s record-setting growth is effectively an echo of the second quarter’s equally unprecedented contraction, when business shutdowns and stay-at-home orders led gross domestic product to fall by 9 percent. Strong growth was inevitable as the economy began to reopen.

    While the economy has revived considerably since last spring, it is far short of its level before the pandemic. And progress is slowing.

    “Employment has come back to some extent, but the unemployment rate is still high, wage and salary income is still low,” said Ben Herzon, executive director of IHS Markit, a forecasting firm. “Demand is still being depressed by the pandemic.”

    In superlative-laden Facebook ads purchased days before the report, President Trump and his supporters have already begun to promote it as evidence of a strong rebound. The truth is more complicated. Here is how economists are thinking about the report, and why the numbers could be misleading.

    If G.D.P. fell by 9 percent in the second quarter, and rose by about 7 percent in the third quarter, it might sound as if the economy is almost back to where it started.

    It isn’t. The big drop in output in the second quarter means that third-quarter growth is being measured against a smaller base. A simple illustration of the same phenomenon: If you have $100 and lose half, you have $50. If you then manage to increase your money by half, that will bring your holdings to $75, not all the way back to $100.

    To really evaluate the recovery, it makes sense to focus less on quarter-to-quarter changes and instead look at how the economy compares to the fourth quarter of last year, before the pandemic began. If economists’ forecasts are correct, G.D.P. will be 3 to 4 percent lower in the third quarter than at the end of last year. By comparison, G.D.P. shrank 4 percent over the entire year and a half of the Great Recession a decade ago.

    In other words: Even after the record-setting rebound in the third quarter, the economy is still in a hole as large as the worst point of many past recessions.

    Here is where things get really confusing: Third-quarter growth will look historically strong, even though all three months that made up the quarter were relatively weak.

    That seeming paradox is the result of how the government reports G.D.P. statistics.

    Quarterly G.D.P. figures represent the average amount of economic output over a three-month period. In normal times, output changes only gradually — growing or shrinking only 2 or 3 percent per year — so the change from the first month of a quarter to the last is small.

    Last spring, however, changes that would ordinarily take years played out in a matter of weeks. Monthly estimates from IHS Markit show that G.D.P. fell more than 5 percent in March and more than 10 percent in April, before rising roughly 5 percent in May and 6 percent in June.

    Quarterly averages obscure those big swings, however. G.D.P. fell 1.3 percent in the first quarter (when two relatively normal months were followed by the big drop in March) and 9 percent in the second (when output plunged in the first month of the quarter then rose in the next two).

    The big rebound in May and June meant that the third quarter effectively had a head start. In fact, even if there had been zero growth in July, August or September, and the economy had stayed exactly the same size as at the end of the second quarter, that would still represent 5.4 percent quarterly growth — the strongest gain on record.

    Recovering Lost Ground

    Monthly and quarterly U.S. gross domestic product in 2020




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    Change in

    AVERAGE from

    previous

    quarter

    Very little forecasted

    month-to-month

    change within Q3

    QUARTERLY

    AVERAGE

    –9.0%

    +7.5%

    THIRD

    Quarter

    (forecast)

    First

    Quarter

    SECOND

    Quarter

    $15

    trillion

    $10

    $5

    Jan.

    Feb.

    Mar.

    April

    May

    June

    July

    Aug.

    Sept.

    Very little forecasted

    month-to-month

    change within Q3

    Change in AVERAGE from

    previous quarter

    –9.0%

    +7.5%

    QUARTERLY AVERAGE

    First Quarter

    SECOND Quarter

    THIRD Quarter

    (forecast)

    $15 trillion

    $10

    $5

    Jan.

    Feb.

    March

    April

    May

    June

    July

    Aug.

    Sept.


    Note: Monthly G.D.P. estimates are shown as seasonally adjusted annual rates, adjusted for inflation.

    Source: IHS Markit

    By Ella Koeze

    Of course, the economy did experience some growth during the third quarter. IHS Markit estimates that G.D.P. grew about 1.5 percent in July and less than 1 percent in August and September. But those are much weaker gains than the quarterly G.D.P. figures might seem to suggest.

    “Statistics that we’re used to using for small and slow movements are basically broken when it comes to looking at large and rapid movements,” said Justin Wolfers, a University of Michigan economist who occasionally contributes to The New York Times. “Typically a recession plays out over many quarters. This one played out over many weeks. So looking at the data through the lens of quarterly data misses all the action.”

    Gross domestic product in the United States is usually reported at an annual rate, meaning how much output would grow or shrink if that rate of change were sustained for a full year. That convention makes it easier to compare data collected over different time periods. But during periods of rapid change, annual rates can be confusing.

    In the second quarter, for example, G.D.P. fell at an annual rate of 31.4 percent. That makes it sound as if the economy shrank by nearly one-third, when in fact it shrank by a bit less than a tenth.

    To avoid confusion, in the coverage of Thursday’s report, The Times plans to emphasize simple, nonannual percentage changes from both the second quarter and the fourth quarter of last year, before the pandemic began. (We gave a more detailed explanation of this decision before the second-quarter report in July.)

    When the pandemic first hit last spring, many economists and policymakers hoped that by shutting down nonessential businesses and encouraging people to stay home, the United States could quickly bring the virus under control, then reopen with minimal lasting economic damage. That would allow for a “V-shaped” recession and recovery — a steep drop, followed by an equally steep rebound.

    Relative to that expectation, the U.S. response has been a failure. The economy bounced back in May and June, but only partway. Most forecasters don’t expect G.D.P. to return to its pre-pandemic level until late next year at the earliest.

    Compared with forecasts from April and May, however, the economic rebound has beaten expectations. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, for example, released a forecast in late April showing a steeper second-quarter decline and a weaker third-quarter rebound than ended up happening. The office also expected the unemployment rate to stay above 10 percent through the end of this year; instead, the rate fell below that benchmark in August, and fell further to 7.9 percent in September.

    The bad news is that progress has slowed sharply since that spring rebound. Many economists have recently revised downward their forecasts for the end of the year, in part because Congress did not provide more stimulus money before the election.

    “The recovery has been faster than expected, but it is bending off pretty sharply,” Mr. Herzon said. “We got a sharp recovery, but there appears to have been a limit to that recovery.”

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    Economy

    US consumer confidence eased in October as economy views dim – BNN

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    Consumer confidence unexpectedly pulled back in October as Americans became more concerned about prospects for employment, incomes and the economy.

    The Conference Board’s index decreased to 100.9 from a downwardly revised 101.3 reading in September, according to a report Tuesday. The reading fell below the median estimate of 102 in Bloomberg’s survey of economists.

    The gauge of expectations slipped 4.5 points to 98.4, while a measure of sentiment about current conditions rose to a seven-month high of 104.6.

    Economists project the expansion in the world’s largest economy to moderate after a projected record annualized increase in the third quarter. The reading, which shows sentiment remains well below pre-pandemic levels, comes a week before the presidential election and underscores the impact of the virus and lack of new stimulus.

    “There is little to suggest that consumers foresee the economy gaining momentum in the final months of 2020, especially with COVID-19 cases on the rise and unemployment still high,” Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement.

    The decline in expectations was mainly driven by a dimmer short-term outlook for jobs. The share of respondents who said that they expect fewer jobs in the next six months rose to 20.2 per cent from 16.1 per cent, the report showed. Larger percentages also said that they expect business conditions to worsen and less income.

    Respondents indicated they were more less likely to make big purchases, including cars and appliances, in the coming months. The share planning to buy a home increased slightly to a three-month high of 6.6 per cent.

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    Economy

    The US economy probably grew at record speed in the third quarter. But the crisis isn't over – CNN

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    Just five days before the presidential election, the Bureau of Economic Analysis will report US gross domestic product — the broadest measure of economic activity.
    Economists polled by Refinitiv expect the economy expanded about 7%, when adjusted for seasonal particularities, between July and September compared to the prior three months. That would be a sharp gain from the second quarter, when the economy shrunk a seasonally-adjusted 9%.
    The government typically measures quarterly GDP gains and losses on an annualized basis, which assumes the quarterly growth rate continues for a whole year. In normal times, this approach makes it easier to compare economic performance over time. But during a fast-moving crisis like the coronavirus pandemic, it makes things a little more confusing.
    On an annualized and seasonally-adjusted basis, economists expect a 31% jump in the third quarter. That would be the biggest gain since the government began tracking quarterly GDP numbers in 1947. And it comes after huge losses in the second quarter, when GDP collapsed at an annualized and seasonally-adjusted rate of 31.4% — the biggest drop on record.
    The partial rebound is a sign of improvement, but economists warn, it’s not as impressive as it may sound.
    “The enormous contraction of GDP in the second quarter means any growth in the third quarter is coming off of a significantly smaller base of GDP,” said Josh Bivens, director of research at the Economic Policy Institute.
    So the jump we will see in Thursday’s data doesn’t mean the economy is out of the woods yet — not even close. If the forecasts are right, economic activity would be about $747 billion per year below its prior peak — meaning, the recovery is far from complete.

    Measuring the rebound

    The US economy fell into a recession in the first half of the year.
    The National Bureau of Economic Research defines a recession as a period between the peak of economic activity and the nadir. At this point, we can’t be sure that we’re out of a recession just yet. Early signs point to a slowdown in economic activity this quarter, and as Covid-19 cases spike again across America, a second lockdown — and deeper recession — are not outside the realm of possibility.
    If the recession is indeed already over, the pandemic downturn would have been much shorter than the average recession, which lasted about 12 months in the post-World War II period. But this one was much deeper, said Douglas Porter, chief economist at BMO Financial Group.
    Either way, the economic crisis is not over, even if Thursday’s data shows a jump in economic activity.
    “The huge GDP growth it will indicate is growth off a level severely depressed by a first-ever lockdown of much of the US economy. The measure itself is meaningless,” said Daniel Alpert, senior fellow and adjunct professor of macroeconomics at Cornell Law School.
    The economy is still in a far worse state than at the start of the year. Millions of people remain unemployed and rely on government benefits to make ends meet. Employers have added back only about half of the 22 million jobs lost in March and April.
    “In the real world, GDP is a pretty abstract concept. Jobs and paychecks are not,” Bivens said.
    Last month, an unexpectedly high number of women dropped out of the work force. Experts think that’s due to childcare responsibilities as schools are still not fully back up and running because of the pandemic.
    Industries like travel and hospitality continue to struggle as people stay home more and Covid restrictions prevent business as usual. On top of all that, the virus is still spreading.
    Economists are growing concerned whether the rebound will keep going in the final three months of the year, given Congress has been unable to agree on another stimulus package to get the economy back on track.

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