Trump opens up 3-point lead on Biden after debate: poll

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Trump opens up 3-point lead on Biden after debate: poll

Former President Trump opened up a 3-point lead over President Biden nationally following last week’s debate after the candidates were tied before, according to a new poll

The USA Today/Suffolk University poll released Tuesday showed Trump leading Biden with 41 percent to the incumbent’s 38 percent in a race that also includes notable independents and third-party candidates. That’s a slight but not dramatic change from the poll’s last result in May that had the two presumptive party nominees even at 37 percent each. 

In the more recent poll, independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr. garnered 8.2 percent support, while Libertarian Chase Oliver, independent Cornel West and Green candidate Jill Stein all had at or just above 1 percent. Just under 8 percent said they were undecided, a drop from the 12 percent who said so in May.

The results come after the first debate between Trump and Biden since the 2020 election, when the candidates faced off twice. In last week’s debate, Biden’s performance received poor reviews from commentators and political figures across the spectrum, as the incumbent at times struggled to make clear statements on his positions and did not come off as energetic. 

Biden’s campaign had likely been hoping such a high-profile event would be an opportunity to dispel some concerns about his age and cognitive ability to serve another term as president, but his performance likely did not help with that. 

Although Trump’s lead is within the margin of error, other findings from the poll may be a source of optimism for the former president.

Just over a majority of respondents, 50.1 percent, said they thought Trump won the debate, while only 11.4 percent said Biden won and 27.5 percent said neither won. More than 30 percent said the debate made them more likely to vote for Trump, but only 10 percent said it made them more likely to vote for Biden, per the survey.

Still, a plurality of 44 percent of survey respondents said the debate had no impact on their vote. 

More than three-quarters said they watched all or some of the debate. 

Among those who picked another candidate other than Trump or Biden, the former president was the most named second choice among those respondents with about 25 percent. Biden followed with about 17 percent, while 32 percent chose another third-party candidate and 18 percent were undecided. 

“It is still a margin of error race right now, but the Biden campaign must be concerned about the defection of second-choice votes of third-party voters,” David Paleologos, the director of the Suffolk Political Research Center, told USA Today. 

Trump also benefits from an enthusiasm gap, as supporters of the former president were twice as likely as Biden supporters to say they are “very excited” to vote for their candidate. The incumbent’s supporters were twice as likely as Trump’s to say they are “not very excited” or “not at all excited,” the poll found.

More than 80 percent of respondents said they have made up their minds on who they will back, but most of those supporting third-party candidates said they could change their minds, potentially leaving those votes up for grabs. 

The USA Today/Suffolk poll was conducted from June 28-30 among 1,000 registered voters and has a margin of error was 3.1 percentage points.