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A supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump waits in line to attend his campaign event at Erie International Airport in Erie, Pennsylvania, U.S. October 20, 2020 REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has prompted swing voters in battleground states to reconsider their support for him, a report by Conservative strategists CT group has suggested.

The CT group, who have masterminded multiple successful election campaigns and polling for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Australian Liberal Party, conducted polling in seven swing states.

Their polling suggests that more than half of former Trump voters who no longer plan to back the president said that Trump’s handling of the pandemic had prompted them to reconsider their support for him.

44% of all swing voters in the states said his performance during the pandemic had led them to reconsider their support.

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A report by conservative election strategists, using their own polling of voters in swing states, has suggested that swing voters have turned away from President Trump due to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The polling was carried out among 6,500 people across 7 states — Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas by the political consultancy and polling firm CT Group.

The CT group have previously been in charge of polling and campaign strategy for right-leaning political parties around the world including the UK Conservative Party and Australian Liberal party.

They masterminded successful election campaigns for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as well as the Liberal Party’s successful 2013 Australian federal election campaign. 

Their polling found that a significant portion of voters in swing states had either already abandoned the president or were reconsidering their support for him.

It found that more than half (56%) of former Trump voters, who no longer planned to vote for him, cited the president’s performance during the pandemic as a factor in reconsidering their support for him.

Overall 44% of swing voters in the states cited the president’s response to the pandemic as a factor in them reconsidering their support.

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28% of swing voters disagreed, however, meaning that a net total of 16% of remaining swing voters — those who are still undecided or could switch their support before the election — said the president’s coronavirus response had prompted them to consider their support for him.

The poll’s findings on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus reflect a wider trend of low confidence among Americans of the president’s handling of the pandemic.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll carried out between October 6 and October 8, three days after the president left the hospital, found that 59% of American adults disapproved of the president’s handling of the pandemic, while 37% approved, a net disapproval rating of 22%, the lowest figure recorded by the poll which began on March 2.

The president’s campaign has sought to downplay the significance of the virus. At the start of the pandemic in February, Trump insisted that the virus would “disappear” on its own, and he declared victory over the virus in May even as the death count rose.

After Trump returned to the campaign trail in October having been hospitalised for three days with the virus, he claimed he was immune to reinfection and said getting it was “a blessing from God.”

Trump has been losing the battle for swing votersGetty

In total 47% of all swing voters in the states said they planned to vote for the Democrats in the upcoming elections, with just 36% opting for the Republicans.

The polling did suggest the race was closer overall in the swing states than nationally, with 49% of all voters saying they planned to vote for Biden with just 43% saying they would back Trump.

Sam Lyon, managing director of CT Group, told Business Insider: “It is clear from the data in these swing states what each of the campaigns needs to do, especially in winning over those voters who have yet to make up their minds or who say they could still change their minds before the election.”

The CT Group said their polling was carried out online between September 25 and October 6 using state representative samples with minimum quotas applied by age, gender, ethnicity and education to ensure a representative sample.

The pandemic has caused Trump to lose core supporters Getty

The polling found that among Trump defectors, the majority were white male homeowners without a university degree – a core demographic for the president.

Overall 65% of Trump defectors sampled by the pollsters said they believed Biden would be better placed to deal with the pandemic with 70% saying they believed the former vice president was the best overall candidate for the job.

Asked which issues were the most important in deciding their vote, the coronavirus pandemic was the top option among Trump defectors, followed by health care, the economy and then employment and jobs.

The ranking of these priorities may show why Trump has struggled to gain traction in swing states with his own focus on the economy.

Swing voters were split on who is best to manage the economyGetty

The president has repeatedly highlighted the US’ strong economic growth before the pandemic struck, with Trump having overseen economic growth averaging 2.5% over his first three years in office.

The polling did find that the economy was still a strong factor in Trump’s favour among many swing voters.

However, voters in the swing states were split overall on which candidate they associated with as being best-placed to manage the economy with 42% picking Trump and the Republicans and 40% picking Biden and the Democrats.

The survey found that voters in the selected swing states were highly motivated to vote, with a total of 69% of respondents identifying as definite voters. Turnout at the 2016 election was 61% in those states in 2016, indicating a potential marked increase in turnout.

However, the poll found little evidence of an enthusiasm gap between the candidates. Trump and Biden supporters appeared similarly motivated to vote, with 73% of Biden supporters saying they would “definitely” vote and 72% of Trump supporters saying the same.

A total of 49% indicated their intention to vote for Biden, while 43% indicated their intention to vote for Trump.

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