President Trump was trailing a handful of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates by between 9 and 16 points as voters were more pessimistic about the national economy, according to a Quinnipiac University survey released on Wednesday.
The poll also showed former Vice President Joseph R. Biden with a healthy lead over his 2020 Democratic rivals. And on the cutoff day for next month’s debate, the survey didn’t help any candidates who are currently short of the polling requirements they need to qualify.
Mr. Biden led Mr. Trump in a hypothetical match-up by 16 points, 54% to 38%, and the president was at 39% or 40% support in match-ups with a handful of other potential Democratic foes.
Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California all held double-digit leads over Mr. Trump, besting the president by 14, 12, and 11 points, respectively.
Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, led Mr. Trump by 9 points, 49% to 40%.
Analysts have cautioned against reading too much into general election polling tests this early, but it’s notable that the incumbent president did not top 40% support in any of the match-ups.
“It’s the ceiling of support for Trump, no matter the candidate,” said Quinnipiac University Polling analyst Mary Snow. “It hovers close to his job approval rating, which has stayed in a tight range since being elected.”
Mr. Trump had a negative 38%-56% approve/disapprove split in the poll — about in line with a 40%-54% split from last month.
But for the first time since his election, more voters said the national economy is getting worse than said it’s getting better.
Thirty-seven percent said it’s getting worse, 31% said it’s getting better, and 30% said it’s staying the same. In June, 23% said they thought it was getting worse, 39% said it was getting better, and 37% said they thought it was staying the same.
“As trade tensions with China dominate the headlines, confidence in the economy is slipping,” Ms. Snow said. “The number of people who think the economy is getting worse rose by double digits since June. And roughly 4 in 10 voters blame the president’s policies, saying they are hurting the economy, the highest level since Trump took office.”
Forty-one percent said Mr. Trump’s policies are hurting the U.S. economy, compared to 37% who said they’re helping and 20% who said they’re not making a difference.
About six in 10 voters did say the nation’s economy is “excellent” or “good” — though that was the lowest share of voters who rated the economy excellent or good since April of last year.
Forty-six percent said they approve of Mr. Trump’s handling of the economy, compared to 49% who said they disapprove.
But majorities said they disapprove of how the president is handling foreign policy, immigration, trade, gun policy, and race relations.
In the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Mr. Biden led the way with 32% support among Democratic voters and independents who lean Democrat, followed by Ms. Warren at 19% and Mr. Sanders at 15%. That’s about in line with where the candidates stood in a Quinnipiac survey released earlier in the month.
In the poll released on Wednesday, Ms. Harris was at 7%, Mr. Buttigieg was at 5%, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang was at 3%.
No other candidate topped 1% support, in a poll that could mark the last chance for several candidates to qualify for next month’s debate.
Candidates have to secure 2% support in four qualifying polls and get contributions from 130,000 individual donors to qualify.
All the candidates who polled at 3% or better had already secured their spots on the debate stage.
That means people like Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer and author Marianne Williamson — who have all hit the donor threshold but not the polling threshold — could well remain on the outside looking in next month.
The overall survey of 1,422 registered voters was taken from Aug. 21-16 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.