Trump trails Biden by 14 points after church photo-op stunt as poll shows national shift on race

More than 60% of Americans disapprove of Trump's handling of race relations and his response to the recent protests

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published June 8, 2020 10:59AM (EDT)

Donald Trump and Joe Biden (Getty Images/Salon)
Donald Trump and Joe Biden (Getty Images/Salon)

Donald Trump trails presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden by 14 points in a new CNN poll, which also finds overwhelming support for the peaceful police protests criticized by the president.

Biden leads with 55%, his highest mark in any CNN tracking poll yet, while Trump trails with 41%, his lowest mark in the network's polling.

The survey also found Trump's approval rating down seven points from last month. Only 38% of voters approve of the job the president is doing, whereas 57% disapprove. The mark is the lowest it has been since January 2019 and is on par with the approval ratings Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush had at this point before losing their re-election bids.

The slide comes as Trump's former Cabinet officials, retired generals, religious leaders and even members of his own party publicly criticized his photo-op stunt that resulted in peaceful protesters being tear-gassed near St. John's Church after his threat to deploy the military to police protests.

The new poll shows that Trump's views are significantly divergent from those of the American public. More than 80% of respondents say the peaceful protests over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd are justified. In 2016, 67% of respondents felt peaceful protests against police violence were justified.

Two-thirds of respondents say racism is a big problem today, up from 49% in a 2015 CNN poll. More than two-thirds say the justice system favors whites over blacks, up from 52% in 2016.

Race relations is now on par with the economy and health care in terms of voting priority. More than 40% say race relations are extremely important in their choice for president.

And voters overwhelmingly back Biden over Trump on race relations. More than 60% of respondents say they disapprove of Trump's handling of race relations, and 65% disapprove of his response to the recent protests.

More than 60% of voters say Biden would do a better job handling race relations, compared to just 31% who chose Trump. Biden also leads 55-41 on handling of the coronavirus.

Trump lashed out at CNN over the poll results, arguing that they were "fake" and he had the "same numbers, and worse, against Crooked Hillary."

But that's not true.

"Trump's comeback in 2016 was made considerably easier by the fact that Democrat Hillary Clinton wasn't polling close to 50%. The average live interview poll taken in June 2016 (when Libertarian Gary Johnson was included) had Clinton at a mere 42%. Not a single one of those polls had her even touching 50%," CNN data analyst Harry Enten said. "Biden, meanwhile, reached at least 50% in three live interview polls this past week."

While Trump cast doubt on the CNN numbers, the polling from Fox News has consistently shown him down big to Biden. The most recent Fox News poll showed Trump particularly vulnerable in key swing states he won in 2016. Biden leads the president in Arizona, Ohio and Wisconsin, according to the survey.

Though Trump has trashed Fox News polling, his own campaign's private polling also shows him trailing Biden, according to The New York Times.

Along with a sizeable number of voters, Trump has also lost the support of his predecessors, if he ever had it. Former President George W. Bush said he will not support Trump, as did former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and former Sen. John McCain's widow Cindy McCain.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a lifelong Republican who served under both Bushes and Ronald Reagan, also said this week that he will vote for Biden in November.

"I think he has not been an effective president," Powell said Sunday. "He lies all the time. He began lying the day of inauguration, when we got into an argument about the size of the crowd that was there . . . He lies. He lies about things, and he gets away with it because people will not hold him accountable."

Trump is lying that his poll numbers are no worse than they were in 2016, too.

"I understand why people are distrustful of the polls after what happened four years ago," New York Times data guru Nate Cohn said, "but right now, Biden would easily withstand another 2016-sized polling error or a wide gap between the Electoral College and the nation as a whole."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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Aggregate Black Lives Matter Donald Trump Elections Elections 2020 George Floyd Joe Biden Politics