• Reuters

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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leads Republican President Donald Trump nationally among likely U.S. voters by 9 percentage points, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll that showed Trump’s “law and order” message falling short with its target audience of suburban voters.

The Sept. 11-15 opinion poll, released on Wednesday, found that 50 percent of likely voters said they were casting their ballots for Biden while 41 percent were doing the same for Trump. Another 3 percent said they would support a third-party candidate and the rest were undecided.

The poll also showed that most American voters were locked in on their choice for president. Nine out of 10 likely Biden voters and 8 out of 10 likely Trump voters said they were “completely certain” about their choice for president. Only 1 in 10 likely Biden voters and fewer than 2 in 10 likely Trump voters appeared to be wavering in their choice.

The poll suggests that Biden has an early advantage in securing the national popular vote in the Nov. 3 presidential election. Still, 9 percent of likely voters are undecided or have not yet supported either major-party candidate. Their decision in coming weeks could determine who wins.

Winning the national popular vote does not necessarily mean winning the election, which is decided by the state-by-state Electoral College system. Trump won in 2016 despite losing the popular vote.

Trump, who has trailed Biden in most national surveys this year, has spent recent months trying to refocus his campaign on the anti-racism protests that have spread across the country following the killing of African Americans including George Floyd in confrontations with police.

Trump has tried to position himself as a protector of the “Suburban Lifestyle Dream,” saying that suburban Americans want safety and security more than anything else.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll found that only 11 percent of suburban whites said the most important factor driving their vote was a candidate’s perceived interest in being “tough on crime” and civil unrest.

That is down from 13 percent of suburban whites who responded to a similar poll that ran Sept. 9-10, and 15 pecent who said the same thing in a Sept. 3-8 poll.

Instead, suburban whites, like all Americans, have been largely driven by concerns about the coronavirus, which has killed more than 195,000 people so far in the United States, more than any other country in the world.

When asked about the most important factor driving their vote, 27 percent of suburban whites said they were looking for a candidate with a robust plan for handling the virus, while 25 percent said they wanted someone who would restore trust in American government. Another 19 percent said they wanted a president who was strong on the economy and jobs.

Trump is now planning to spend $10 million on advertisements that focus on the economy — an issue where he maintains a high level of popularity.

The poll found that 45 percent of U.S. adults think Trump is the better candidate for rebuilding the economy, compared with 36 percent who say Biden would be better.

Overall, battling the coronavirus ranked as the No. 1 concern and restoring trust in government No. 2.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,358 American adults, including 859 likely voters. The poll has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of about 4 percentage points.

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