CNN  — 

After two political conventions unlike any the United States had seen before, Joe Biden maintains an advantage over Donald Trump in the race for the presidency, according to a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS.

Among registered voters, 51% back Biden, 43% Trump. The difference in each candidate’s support when compared with a CNN poll conducted pre-conventions is within the poll’s margin of sampling error.

Both candidates boosted the share of their supporters who say they are voting more for their chosen candidate than against his opponent, though that figure is still higher for Trump than it is for Biden. For Biden, it’s up to 45%, from 38% pre-conventions, and for Trump, it’s now at 77%, up from 67% before the conventions.

Biden also shifted his favorability ratings into more positive territory (48% view him favorably now, 43% unfavorably) as Trump’s remained deeply negative (40% favorable to 56% unfavorable).

View 2020 presidential election polling

The conventions produced few significant changes in how voters view the two candidates on the issues and basic attributes, but some shifts are notable. While Trump held an edge on handling the economy before either convention, this poll finds Trump (49%) and Biden (48%) about even. Biden has inched into an advantage on keeping Americans safe from harm (51% say Biden would, 45% Trump). Trump’s numbers have worsened on honesty and trustworthiness (Biden’s advantage of 51% to 40% pre-convention has stretched to a 53% to 36% one post-convention) and there’s been a dip in the share who say Trump shares their values (it was 52% to 43% pre-convention and now stands at 52% to 39%).

The poll finds a notable lack of change in voters’ perceptions of which candidate has a clear plan for solving the country’s problems: 49% say Biden does, 43% Trump, exactly the same as before the conventions.

Over the course of the two conventions, the crises facing the country were front and center, but which crisis came to the forefront depended on which party was doing the talking. Assessing four issues that featured prominently across both events, the survey finds that when thinking about their own communities, majorities of Americans worry about the coronavirus outbreak (60%), the state of the economy (58%) and the impacts of racism (52%). Far fewer (37%) are worried about the risk of crime in their own community.

There are steep divides between Biden supporters and Trump supporters on those questions. More than 8 in 10 Biden backers worry about the coronavirus outbreak (87%) and the economy (81%), while among Trump supporters, only around 3 in 10 share the same level of worry. Biden’s supporters are also far more worried about the impacts of racism (75% worried vs. 24% among Trump’s supporters). Biden’s supporters are more worried than Trump’s about the risk of crime in their own communities, though at a far lower level than their worry about the other three issues tested (39% worried among Biden supporters, 30% among Trump supporters).

The low level of worry about crime and Biden’s growing edge on keeping Americans safe suggest the Trump campaign’s focus on that issue may not be having the desired effect.

All told, most of the changes in public opinion on the presidential race within this poll are small, reflecting how firm many voters are in their choices. Overall, 85% of registered voters say they are locked in to their choice for president, 13% have yet to make a choice or say they could change their minds.

Trump’s approval rating is about the same as in August, 41% approve, 53% disapprove, and there’s been little movement in his approval rating on the economy. Disapproval of his handling of the coronavirus outbreak remains widespread at 55%, though that is slightly off the high point of 58% reached in August. That finding comes as Americans’ outlook on where the outbreak is heading has shifted more positive: 51% say the worst is behind us, the first time that figure has topped 50%.

The survey also tested favorability ratings for the candidates’ wives after both spoke at the conventions. Positive views of Melania Trump have dropped 10 points since 2018, 44% have a favorable impression now, down from 54% two years ago. Jill Biden received a mostly positive reception from the American people: 46% view her favorably, 29% unfavorably, with a sizable 26% unable to express an opinion.

On demographics

Joe Biden continues to hold a wide advantage among women (57% to 37%), voters ages 65 or older (57% to 40%), people of color (59% to 31%) and White college graduates (56% to 40%). His support among suburban women (56% Biden to 41% Trump) mirrors his lead among women generally, despite the Trump campaign’s focus on shrinking that edge.

Men have been a somewhat volatile group in CNN’s surveys in the last few months. As of now, Trump holds 48% support to Biden’s 44%, while in August, Trump held a far wider advantage, 56% to 40%.

Trump continues to hold a wide lead among White men (53% to 42% for Biden), and especially White non-college educated men (61% to 33%). White non-college educated women, however, currently break toward Biden (54% to 42%).

Biden’s lead over Trump remains wide even when looking at those who say they are most likely to vote in November, a contrast with previous election cycles where likely voters were often more supportive of the Republican candidate. And across 15 competitive states, Biden stands at 50% support among registered voters while Trump holds 45%, a difference within the poll’s margin of error for that subset of voters.

On voting

A majority of registered voters continue to say they prefer to cast their ballots before Election Day, with 31% saying they want to vote by mail, 25% early in-person. About 4 in 10 (43%) say they plan to vote in-person on Election Day.

Biden’s backers remain more likely to say they plan to vote before Election Day (49% by mail, 29% early, 21% election day) than are Trump’s supporters (10% by mail, 21% early, 68% election day).

Among those who prefer to vote by mail, 40% say 2020 would be the first time they cast a ballot that way. Most, 72%, say they are very confident that they understand how to request and cast a vote-by-mail ballot in their state, but there is a wide gap by experience with mail voting. Among those who have done it before, 89% are very confident vs. 48% among those who would be first-time mail voters.

Among all Americans, there is tepid confidence in the US Postal Service to deliver election-related mail in a timely way. About half, 51%, are at least somewhat confident the Postal Service can do that, including just 21% who are “very confident.” Biden’s supporters are more confident in the Postal Service (60%) than are Trump’s supporters (43%).

Although around 7 in 10 voters remain enthusiastic about voting in the presidential election – a level far outpacing that in other recent election years. The poll suggests there has been a dip in the share extremely enthusiastic about voting, off from its high point last month. That decline comes about equally among Biden and Trump supporters.

The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS August 28 through September 1 among a random national sample of 1,106 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer, including 997 registered voters. The survey also includes an oversample of residents of 15 battleground states for a total subsample of 640 adults and 584 registered voters from those states. That subset was weighted to its proper share of the overall adult population of the United States. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. It is 4.0 points among registered voters and 5.4 points for results for registered voters in the battleground states.