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Poll finds Biden leading in battleground states, but race is tightening

Former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump. (Courthouse News)

(CN) — Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in half-a-dozen key battleground states according to fresh polling data, though Trump’s approval ratings saw a slight boost with more voters saying they’re less concerned about the state of the coronavirus pandemic.

Fresh off a final address to the Democratic National Convention that earned a warm reception from a majority of voters, a Change Research/CNBC poll released Wednesday reports that Biden currently leads Trump in six states that are likely to play a sizeable role in deciding November’s presidential election.

According to the poll, Biden leads Trump by six points in Michigan and five points in Wisconsin, two states that gave Trump unexpected victories 2016. Biden is also ahead of Trump by three points each in Florida and Pennsylvania, two points in Arizona and a single point in North Carolina.

Biden does better when pitted against Trump nationally, with the former vice president ahead of his electoral rival by eight points, 51%-43%.

The numbers come as most voters, both inside and outside of crucial battleground states, reported they are watching or plan to watch at least some of the Democratic and Republican conventions. Roughly 60% of voters in battleground states said they watched some of the Democratic convention last week, while around the same number said they plan on watching some of the Republican convention this week.

While Trump has yet to officially address his convention, Biden’s speech last week went over well with voters. Among those who tuned in, 71% of battleground voters and 70% of voters nationally say they had a positive reaction to Biden’s remarks closing out the Democratic convention, while around 60% of battleground voters reported having “very positive” reactions to it.

As Biden continues to poll well in states that could decide the outcome of this year’s election, voters in those states say they are feeling less worried about the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic — and more receptive to Trump’s Covid response. According to Wednesday’s poll, voters who voiced “serious concerns” about the state of the pandemic decreased by four points within the six battleground states surveyed while Trump’s handling of the virus rose by three points. This bump for Trump puts the approval rating of the president’s Covid-19 response at the highest point since mid-May.

Outside of his handling of the coronavirus, Trump also saw a two-point increase in his overall job performance approval rating, now 48%.

One area where Trump is facing some pushback with voters, however, is on his handling of the economy. Traditionally an area Trump polls well in, Wednesday’s poll reports that most voters nationally say he has done a poor job on that front recently. Over half (53%) of voters disapprove of his economic management, while another 54% say he has not done enough to help voters’ pocketbooks.

More voters on the national level also say they trust Biden to better help them recover from the economic damage caused the pandemic, with 53% of voters nationally preferring Biden and 47% preferring Trump.

In an interesting twist, however, Trump’s disapproval numbers come as more voters in battleground states like Florida, Arizona and Wisconsin say they are getting more optimistic about the economy. The poll reported a six-point boost in how battleground voters view the health of the economy, while another 6% said they were growing less cynical in their views of the economy and the American unemployment rate.

The poll also gauged the feelings of voters on two immensely hot-button issues in the county: voting by mail and the reopening of schools.

Wednesday poll reports that at least a third of voters, both nationally and in battleground states, say they intend to vote by mail come November. While this number is slightly down compared to previous polling data, overall faith in the United States Postal Service remains high. The USPS has a 57-point net favorability ranking among national voters and 53-point net favorability score among voters in battleground states.

On the topic of school reopening, respondents remain cautious. Only 40% of voters in battleground states and 36% of voters nationally say they think it’s safe for students to return to school. Parents are slightly more comfortable in this regard but are still largely divided — 47% of parents in battleground states and 41% of parents nationally say they are on board with having their kids return to in-person classes.

Wednesday’s poll was conducted with 4,904 likely voters across battleground states and 2,362 likely voters nationally. The margin of error is 1.4% for battleground respondents and 2.02% for the national voters.