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Pandemic and economy the main worries but no clear winner in survey

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Biden supporter in New York

Biden supporter in New York

REUTERS

Biden supporter in New York

Voters in the US presidential election faced a public health crisis and a wounded economy, but neither candidate emerged as the clear choice to handle both issues, according to a nationwide survey of 133,000 people.

More voters - from coast to coast and in key battlegrounds - said former vice-president Joe Biden would be better able to handle the coronavirus pandemic, the top concern for about four out of 10 voters.

However, president Donald Trump edged out Mr Biden on the question of who would be better to rebuild an economy besieged by nearly 11 million job losses and small businesses staring down a bleak winter.

About three in 10 voters nationally ranked the economy as the most pressing issue.

Mr Biden warned that it can never fully heal unless the coronavirus is first contained and businesses can fully reopen.

Mr Trump argued that the economy should not be a casualty of the disease and maintained that the nation was "rounding the turn".

Coalition

He continued to draw support from a coalition of white men, white voters without a college degree and those living in small towns and rural communities.

Mr Biden enjoyed more backing from women, college graduates, young people and black, Hispanic and Asian voters.

A majority of Biden voters said the pandemic was the most important issue, more than twice the share of Trump voters.

About six in 10 voters - including most Biden voters and about a quarter of Trump backers - said things in the country are on the wrong track.

Mr Trump's campaign tried to make the handling of the economy a top selling point for his re-election.

A comeback has recently showed signs of stalling.

Only about four in 10 voters said the economy was good or excellent, with the rest describing conditions as not so good or poor.

The coronavirus outbreak has claimed more than 230,000 American lives and has been surging across the country in recent weeks.

Still, voters were divided on whether the nation has contained the spread.

About half of voters said the virus is at least somewhat under control, while roughly half described the coronavirus as out of control.

Tensions over structural racism increased this summer after the police killings of several black Americans, which set off peaceful protests and in some cases riots, looting and violence.

Embrace

Mr Trump positioned himself as a defender of police and cast the protesters as radicals, part of an appeal to suburban and older voters he thought would embrace a law and order message.

Nationally, about three-quarters of voters called racism a serious challenge for society as a whole and nearly as many said that of policing in particular.

About a quarter said they want to see the police be tougher on crime, while a third think police are too tough.

Mr Trump's pitch to suburbanites appeared to have limited impact.

When asked which candidate would be better able to handle policing and justice issues, suburban voters preferred Mr Biden to Mr Trump by a narrow margin.


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