Voters want Senate to prioritize coronavirus relief over Supreme Court, new poll finds

  • A clear majority of voters want the Senate to focus on approving coronavirus relief rather than filling the Supreme Court vacancy, according to new CNBC/Change Research polls.
  • Most Americans thinks the economy needs more stimulus, and about equal shares blame Republicans and Democrats for the current aid stalemate.
  • Joe Biden leads Donald Trump in the six swing states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

About two-thirds of voters nationally and in six electoral swing states believe the Senate should focus on passing more coronavirus aid rather than confirming Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, according to new CNBC/Change Research polls.

The surveys also find Democratic nominee Joe Biden leading President Donald Trump in a still-competitive presidential race, and Democrats leading in three Senate contests that will help to decide the chamber's majority.

Asked what the Senate should make its top priority right now, 66% of U.S. likely voters answered coronavirus relief and 34% said filling the Supreme Court vacancy, the poll released Tuesday found. In the states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, 62% of respondents said the Senate should focus on aid, and 38% said it should prioritize filling the seat.

The poll findings come as Senate Republicans try to balance the thorny politics of both issues two weeks before Election Day. The GOP-held Senate aims to confirm Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as soon as Monday.

"That's a false choice, because I believe we can do both," White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told CNBC on Tuesday about picking between providing aid and confirming Barrett.

Facing pressure to approve more relief during a sluggish recovery from pandemic-fueled economic shutdowns, Senate Republicans will try to approve a $500 billion aid package this week. But the bill, similar to one Senate Democrats blocked last month, has little chance of becoming law as Democrats and the White House negotiate legislation that would cost at least $1.9 trillion.

A clear majority of likely voters believe the U.S. needs more economic stimulus. Seven-in-10 respondents to the national survey said they believe the economy is struggling and the country needs more financial relief, while 30% said they think the economy is recovering and Americans do not need any more federal aid.

In the six swing states, 66% of voters said they think the economy needs more stimulus, while 34% responded that it does not.

But the survey found neither party has come out of the coronavirus aid fight unscathed. In the six battleground states, 45% of voters blame Trump and Republicans for the failure to pass more aid, while 44% put the onus on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats. Another 10% blame both sides equally.

The swing-state poll, taken from Friday through Monday, surveyed 2,949 likely voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percentage points. The national poll, taken Saturday and Sunday, surveyed 2,711 likely voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.9 percentage points.

The surveys found Biden holding a steady edge over Trump. Nationally, the Democrat leads the Republican incumbent by a 52% to 42% margin.

Biden holds an advantage in all six swing states surveyed, though some of those leads are narrow:

  • Arizona: Biden 51%, Trump 45% (+6)
  • Florida: Biden 50%, Trump 45% (+5)
  • Michigan: Biden 51%, Trump 44% (+7)
  • North Carolina: Biden 50%, Trump 47% (+3)
  • Pennsylvania: Biden 49%, Trump 47% (+2)
  • Wisconsin: Biden 52%, Trump 44% (+8)

Democrats also lead the Senate races in Arizona, Michigan and North Carolina, which will play a major role in determining whether the GOP keeps its 53-47 majority in the chamber. Democrat Mark Kelly leads incumbent Republican Sen. Martha McSally by a 54% to 43% margin in the Arizona special election to determine who serves the remaining two years of the late John McCain's term.

Michigan Democratic Sen. Gary Peters has a 51% to 46% edge over Republican John James. Meanwhile, Democrat Cal Cunningham holds a 51% to 45% advantage over GOP Sen. Thom Tillis in North Carolina.

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