Despite a barrage of criticism and intense media attack over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, more Americans appear to be gravitating to the belief that Donald Trump is better suited to run the economy than his presidential rival Joe Biden. The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that Biden's advantage over Trump in popular support has lost steam in recent weeks.

The opinion poll, which was released on Tuesday, showed that 43 percent of registered voters now say they would vote for Biden as against 41 percent in favour of Trump. Compared with this, Biden had a 6-point lead over Trump a week ago, and an 8-point lead two weeks ago.

Race has swung both ways

The re-election race has swung both ways since the start of the year for President Trump. Up until Super Tuesday, Trump's victory in the November elections was seen as a foregone conclusion. But then came the unforeseen rise of Biden in the Democratic ranks and then, the coronavirus pandemic. Trump appeared to have lost the plot in the initial days of the virus outbreak, having dismissed it as a minor headache.

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With the pandemic assuming devastating proportions and Trump getting the bad press for the spiralling deaths and various policy mix-ups, Biden made significant strides in the race. However, the last three weeks saw his popularity diminish over the fresh allegations by former Senate aide Tara Reade. The serious allegations of sexual assault came at a crucial time for Biden, close on the heels of his anointment as the presumptive Democratic nominee following the dropping out of Vermont senator Bernie Sanders from 2020 Presidential race.

The latest opinion poll also showed that as many as 45 percent of Americans thought Trump was better at creating jobs; only 32 percent said Biden would do better than Trump in this department. The economic anxiety will ride right into the election day as millions of Americans have lost jobs in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump made unusual, if risky, measures to re-open the economy for the sake of jobs and livelihoods even as critics across the world blamed him for neglecting people's safety.

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More independents seeing Trump favourably

Significantly, Trump had only a 6-point lead over Biden on the same question in a poll conducted in the middle of last month, Reuters reported. This narrow edge has now widened to a 13-point lead. Answering a more general question on how they assessed the president's handling of the coronavirus epidemic, 37 percent supported Trump while 35 percent preferred Biden.

The survey also showed that while 42 percent of Americans approved Trump's performance as president, 53 percent said they didn't think he performed well. Meanwhile, a Gallup survey released on May 1 showed that Trump's approval rating touched an all-time high of 49 percent. As many as 47 percent gave a thumbs down to his job card.

Interestingly, the survey also showed that more independents had started seeing Trump more favourably. "Most of the variation in Trump's recent job approval rating is among independents ... In the current poll, 47% of independents approve of the job he is doing as president, the highest Gallup has measured for the group to date. 93% of Republicans and 8% of Democrats approve of the job Trump is doing," Gallup said.