Joe Biden cuts Donald Trump’s lead on handling of US economy

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Donald Trump has lost some of his edge over Joe Biden on the economy in a monthly poll of American voters, one of the first signs that months of strong economic data may finally be boosting the president’s re-election prospects.

Trump’s lead among registered voters who were asked which of the two candidates they trusted more to handle the economy was just four points in June, down from 11 in February, according to the latest survey conducted for the Financial Times and the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

The poll was conducted from May 30 to June 3 — immediately after Trump’s criminal conviction in New York over “hush money” payments made to porn actor Stormy Daniels — and found 41 per cent of registered voters nationwide said they trusted Trump, compared with 37 per cent who put their trust in Biden. Seventeen per cent said they trusted neither.

Despite Biden’s seven-point improvement since February, the survey still showed some grim sentiment for the Democratic party candidate, who has battled persistently low approval ratings on his management of the economy — which voters say is their top issue heading into November.

The survey results come despite the continuing strength of the US economy, with robust consumer spending and low employment helping to propel gross domestic product and push stock markets to record highs.

But the FT-Michigan Ross poll continued to reveal anxieties about costs for housing and food, among other goods, with about 80 per cent of respondents citing inflation as among their top three sources of financial stress. The Federal Reserve is expected to keep high US borrowing costs unchanged at its meeting on Wednesday in its ongoing effort to tame prices.

The improving numbers for Biden come with five months left before election day, with the president sharpening his attacks on his predecessor. On Friday, the president used a D-Day commemoration speech in France to call on American voters to stand up for democratic rights that he has said are under threat from Trump.

The two men are set to face off in a live televised debate later this month in Atlanta, Georgia.

“The Trump campaign should be worried about his shrinking lead on who voters trust with the economy because the economy is voters’ biggest issue,” said Erik Gordon of the Ross School of Business.

“Voters are more concerned with the economy than with other campaign issues like immigration and foreign policy,” Gordon added. “To win the election, you have to convince voters that you will do the best job with the economy.”

The latest survey showed that Biden enjoys a particular advantage with older voters, while younger adults favour Trump on economic stewardship. Among voters between the ages of 18 and 54, Trump enjoys a 10-point advantage on his handling of the economy. Biden leads Trump by one point among voters over the age of 55.

Biden’s advantage with older voters was also laid bare by a new question in the poll, asking which candidate people trusted more to lower healthcare costs, including drug prices and insurance premiums. Biden had an edge over Trump, with 41 per cent of voters saying they trusted him versus 39 per cent picking his Republican rival. Among Americans older than 55, Biden had a seven-point advantage.

The president’s re-election campaign has often cited his administration’s efforts to cap the price of insulin at $35 a month for seniors who get their health insurance through Medicare, the federal provision for Americans over 65.

Still, the FT-Michigan Ross poll continued to show vulnerabilities for the president, whose economic approval ratings have remained depressed amid continued public frustration with high prices and inflation.

Just one in five American voters said this month that they were financially better off since Biden became president, while just over half said they were worse off.

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