WASHINGTON – Nearly three-quarters of Americans say they see Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as more caring to those affected by the coronavirus pandemic, while less than half say the same of Trump, a new survey shows. The survey showcases an empathy gap between the two candidates.

A combined 70% of Americans describe Biden as caring about those sick with COVID-19, while less than half, 49%, say Trump cares, according to a survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project. In addition, a combined 66% of Americans say Biden is more caring to those who have lost their jobs, compared with Trump at 53%.

The survey findings come amid revelations in a new book by Bob Woodward, where Trump acknowledged COVID-19 was more deadly and contagious than the flu even as he downplayed its dangers publicly. The survey was done before the tapes of Trump’s comments were released.

Throughout the campaign, Biden has also repeatedly talked about his own personal tragedies, such as losing his wife and daughter in a car accident in 1972. Biden also often talks about his late son, Beau, and how to cope with the deaths of loved ones, especially now amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Robert Griffin, research director for the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, said that message from Biden is effective outside campaign efforts.

“That’s an image that is sticking with the American public to some degree,” he said.

The Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project is a large-scale study of the American electorate designed to conduct 500,000 interviews about policies and the presidential candidates during the 2020 election cycle. The most recent poll was done Aug. 27 to Sept. 2, with 6,405 Americans surveyed. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.

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More independents believe Biden cares about these issues than those who say Trump cares, according to the Nationscape Insights analysis, a project of Democracy Fund, UCLA and USA TODAY. 

A combined 59% of independents describe Biden as a candidate who cares about people sick with COVID-19, compared with the 39% of independents who say Trump does. Among those who say a candidate cares about people who lost their job, 59% of independents say Biden does, while 45% of independents say Trump does.

Despite the partisan divide, about half (53%) of Republicans say Biden is caring about those sick with COVID-19. Nearly half (46%) of Republicans also believe Biden cares about those who have lost their jobs. 

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But less than two out of 10 Democrats feel Trump cares about people sick with the coronavirus, and only 21% believe Trump cares about those who have lost their jobs.

Griffin said Biden is likely seen more empathetic because he is seen as a “relatively compassionate person,” while Trump is seen as a “no-nonsense dealmaker.”

“It’s not maybe too surprising to see that those narratives have some stickiness,” Griffin said. “Even in the case of partisans who do have some incentives to not think that about that person.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Survey: Voters say Biden cares more about COVID-19 than Trump does



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