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Axios-Ipsos poll: The Biden-Trump trust gulf

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: ±3.3% margin of error for the total sample; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Trump wins significantly less trust than Joe Biden on who provides accurate information about the coronavirus — but neither one is trusted by even half the country, in the latest installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: Week 22 of our national survey exposes new depths of the virus' politicization as the two major political parties hold their nominating conventions — and it shows the challenges of governing that lie ahead for whoever wins in November.


Details: Just 31% of Americans saying they trust Trump on the pandemic, compared with 46% who say they trust Biden.

  • Neither can claim a majority, but Biden is in a stronger position. Three in 10 members of the president's own party don't trust him on the issue.
  • Just 7% of Democrats trust Trump — and only 12% of Republicans trust Biden — to provide accurate information about the coronavirus.
  • Independents trust Biden significantly more than they trust Trump — but more than a third of independents say they don't trust either one.
  • Nearly seven in 10 Americans say they either don't trust Trump at all or don't trust him very much, with most falling into the "at all" category.
  • About one-third of Americans don't trust Biden much or at all, though the intensity of distrust is less than toward Trump.

Between the lines: These findings come as 38% of the registered voters in the survey say they've already requested an absentee ballot for the presidential election (24%) or that their state will automatically mail them one (14%).

  • Party ID is a driving factor with these registered voters: 29% percent of independents and 28% of Democrats — but only 15% of registered Republicans — said they've requested an absentee ballot.

What they're saying: "It's really about the negative, not the positive," said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs. "Trump's negatives are so much higher."

  • "It's 'a pox on both your houses,' but, definitely, Trump goes into this cycle with a significant deficit," Young said, adding that a surge in cases and deaths in red states had hurt the president's standing within in his own party.
  • "Trump's not credible talking about COVID. It's very hard to spin a virus. At the end of the day, people know people that are sick, people know people that have died, and that's real."

The big picture: This week's survey finds new milestones for the virus' proximity to all Americans. As campaign season kicks into high gear, modified schooling is returning for millions of children, and public health officials are bracing for a flu season to interact with COVID-19.

By the numbers: 58% of respondents now say they know someone who’s tested positive, and 22% know someone who died from the virus. One in four say they've been tested themselves.

  • Meanwhile, half of the parents in this week's survey say their children already have resumed schooling in one form or another — 30% virtually, 14% in person and 6% in a hybrid format.
  • This comes amid indications of some drift back to offices: 30% of employed respondents say they're still working remotely, down from 37% — and one-third of those working remotely say their offices have reopened, but they're choosing not to go in.

What we're watching: A majority of Americans (62%) say they're somewhat or very likely to get the flu shot this fall or winter, while just under half (48%) say they'd take a first-generation COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it's available.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted August 21-24 by Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,084 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

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