- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden has extended his lead over President Trump despite a decades-old sexual assault allegation that is hovering over the challenger’s presidential bid.

A Monmouth University survey released Wednesday found Mr. Biden has opened up a 50%-41% lead over Mr. Trump among registered voters, with 5% of respondents still up for grabs.

If Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan enters the mix as a Libertarian candidate, Mr. Biden’s lead shrinks to 47%-40%.

Mr. Amash, who launched an exploratory committee last week, is the preferred pick of 5% of voters.

Biden’s lead continues to build even as overall opinion of him remains soft,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “It’s possible that recent headlines about a sexual assault claim may have had an impact on his favorability rating, but most voters still see this election mainly as a referendum on Trump.”

Former Biden Senate staffer Tara Reade has accused her then-boss of sexually assaulting her in 1993.

The allegation has divided voters — 37% say it is probably true, 32% say it is probably not true, and 31% have no opinion, according to the poll.

The responses fall along partisan lines.

Half of Republicans and 43% of independents surveyed said the charge is probably true, but among Democrats that number fell to just 20%. 

Mr. Murray said the jury is out on how the accusation influences the race.

“For some voters who believe the charge, it is still not enough to override their desire to oust Trump,” Mr. Murray said. “The outlook is murkier for those who don’t have an opinion on it.”

“This group includes a number of Democratic-leaning independents who could potentially be swayed if this story grows in importance,” he said.

Mr. Trump’s approval rating, meanwhile, is underwater, with 40% giving him a thumbs up and 53% giving him a thumbs down.

Mr. Biden has approval problems of his own.

The survey showed that 41% gave the former vice president a positive review, and 44% saw him in a negative light.

The poll results were based on 739 registered voters and have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

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