An extensive new survey by Morning Consult of nearly 28,000 registered voters presents some troubling numbers for the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden — results the pollster ascribes to increased coverage of the sexual assault allegation against Biden from his former Senate staffer Tara Reade. While Biden’s “slide” has resulted in a tightening race between him and President Donald Trump, the pollster still gives Biden a “distinct advantage” among one potentially key group.
“Tara Reade’s allegation that Joe Biden sexually assaulted her when he was a senator in 1993 is one of the few non-coronavirus stories to have broken through to voters amid the pandemic, and it appears to be taking a toll on the former vice president’s popularity,” Morning Consult reported Monday.
The result: Biden’s net favorability has dropped 5 points among registered voters since just a few weeks ago and his head-to-head lead over Trump has shrunk to just 3 points.
Since Morning Consult asked registered voters the same questions in an April 20-26 poll, Biden’s favorability has declined to a net negative. A poll conducted May 4-10 of 27,754 registered voters found Biden underwater by 5 points, 48% viewing him unfavorably, while 43% view him favorably (the previous survey showed him at 45-45). The poll has just a 1-point margin of error.
“The slide resulted in Biden’s net favorability among women falling underwater for the first time since the nadir of his primary campaign in February, with 46 percent viewing him unfavorably and 44 viewing him favorably,” Morning Consult notes. “Taken together, it marks a 6-point drop in net favorability among women since the April 20-26 poll, driven by women ages 30 to 65 — the voting bloc that strategists on either side of the aisle credit with fueling Democratic victories in 2018 House races.” A similar dip occurred among men, suburban whites and black voters.
While Biden’s favorability has declined, he still has an advantage over Trump, who has a favorability deficit of 9 points, 53% viewing him unfavorably and 44% favorably.
The gap between the two in a head-to-head matchup is now just 3 points: Biden 45%, Trump 42%, which is “among the three smallest deficits Trump has faced in 2020 in matchups against Biden.”
Biden’s “distinct advantage” is among those voters who dislike both him and Trump, with 46% of them saying they’d vote for Biden and only 14% saying they’d chose Trump.
The survey follows increasing mainstream media coverage of Reade’s allegation that in 1993 then-Senator Biden forced himself on her in a deserted hallway of a Senate building and penetrated her with his fingers. After being almost entirely ignored by the mainstream media for weeks, Reade’s allegation was finally addressed by The New York Times in a much-scrutinized examination of Reade’s allegation that Biden’s campaign initially portrayed as having exonerated him, but which the Times made clear in a strong rebuke of Biden’s camp had not.
Amid mounting pressure from progressive women’s groups and other Democratic activists, Biden finally addressed the allegation in a statement posted on Medium on May 1.
“So I want to address allegations by a former staffer that I engaged in misconduct 27 years ago,” Biden wrote. “They aren’t true. This never happened. … Responsible news organizations should examine and evaluate the full and growing record of inconsistencies in her story, which has changed repeatedly in both small and big ways. … She has said she raised some of these issues with her supervisor and senior staffers from my office at the time. They — both men and a woman — have said, unequivocally, that she never came to them and complained or raised issues. News organizations that have talked with literally dozens of former staffers have not found one — not one — who corroborated her allegations in any way. Indeed, many of them spoke to the culture of an office that would not have tolerated harassment in any way — as indeed I would not have.”
The Times summarizes the development of the Reade story and both evidence for and against it: “Last year, Ms. Reade and seven other women came forward to accuse Mr. Biden of kissing, hugging or touching them in public in ways that made them feel uncomfortable. She did not publicly mention the assault at the time and only came forward with the allegation in late March of this year. Several of Ms. Reade’s friends have said she told them about a traumatic sexual incident involving Mr. Biden. Nearly two dozen people who worked with Mr. Biden during the early 1990s, including many who worked with Ms. Reade, told The Times they had no recollection of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden.”
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