Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and President...

Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump. Credit: Composite: AP / Patrick Semansky; AFP via Getty Images / Mandel Ngan; AP / Evan Vucci

Suburban voters prefer Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders over President Donald Trump, but Trump holds a comfortable lead among independents, according to Hofstra University's new Kalikow Center Poll.

The poll by the Kalikow Center for the Study of the American Presidency surveyed 1,500 voters nationwide from March 5-12, largely before the spread of coronavirus became a major national issue.

The survey, conducted by YouGov, a firm specializing in online polling, oversampled suburban voters.

Among voters nationwide, Biden leads Trump by a slim margin: 50.6% to 49.4%.

Among suburban voters, Biden leads Trump by 52.9% to 47.1%, the Kalikow poll found.

But Trump leads Biden among voters not affiliated with a major party by a margin of 54.2% to 45.8%.

Sanders, who has lost to Biden in a series of recent Democratic primaries, leads Trump among all voters, 50.1% to 49.9%.

Sanders is ahead of Trump among suburban voters, 51.2% to 48.8%.

But among independents, Trump leads Sanders by 54.1% to 45.9%.

Trump's overall approval rating was 47.8%, compared with 48.7% in the Kalikow School Poll in November.

Biden had an approval rating of 45.7% in the new poll, while Sanders' approval rating was 43%.

"Following impeachment, acquittal, certainly concerns about economic conditions, it indicates a certain stability for now in American politics and a very competitive presidential race in November," Meena Bose, executive dean of Hofstra’s Peter S. Kalikow School of Government, Public Policy and International Affairs, said of the poll.

But Bose said the coronavirus pandemic could throw Trump's numbers into flux.

Trump's approval rating has remained stable, with "the strength of the economy as his strongest area,” Bose said.

But the coronavirus outbreak and the plummeting economy "could change that outlook dramatically," Bose said.

Overall, Trump had a 55.3% approval rating and a disapproval rating of 44.7% for his handling of the economy, the Kalikow School Poll found. In the suburbs, 53.1% approved of Trump's work on the economy, while 46.9% disapproved.

Craig Burnett, a Hofstra political science professor and Kalikow School Poll program director, said Trump was, "doing fairly well with independents, and in the suburbs. Nobody’s going to walk away with this thing, at least right now.”

But the coronavirus “crisis really is going to be a perilous task for this administration,” Burnett said.

Bose said the Kalikow poll also highlighted a "certain political pragmatism" among Democrats in their choices of presidential candidates.

Democrats favored a candidate who had the "best chance to win," compared with the candidate who "shares my values," by a margin of 52.6% to 47.5%.

Asked about possible Democratic vice presidential nominees, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was Democratic voters' first choice if either Biden or Sanders were to become the presidential nominee.

If Biden were the nominee, 26% of voters said they preferred Warren for his running mate, compared with 24.2% for Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.); former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 16.8%; Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), 11.1%; and 9.3% for Stacey Abrams, a former Democratic leader of the Georgia House of Representatives and the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Georgia governor in 2018.

If Sanders were the nominee, 34.1% of voters favored adding Warren for the ticket, compared with 19.4% for Klobuchar; Buttigieg, 16%; Abrams, 8.8%; and Harris, 7.6%.

During a debate with Sanders on Sunday, Biden announced he would select a woman as his running mate. Sanders said he would "in all likelihood" select a woman for vice president.

The Kalikow School Poll also found:

  • 52% of voters supported the Senate's acquittal of Trump on impeachment charges, while 48% opposed acquittal. Independent voters backed Trump's acquittal, 54.3% to 45.7%, while suburban voters opposed acquittal, 51.7% to 48.3%.
  • Trump got his lowest approval ratings for his handling of health care, with 54.8% of voters saying they disapproved of his performance on the issue, and 45.2% expressing approval, Burnett said.

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