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Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden: Where they stand on COVID, education and more

Amid the tumult of the 2020 presidential campaign, one dynamic has remained constant: The Nov. 3 election offers voters a choice between substantially different policy paths.

President Donald Trump, like many fellow Republicans, holds out tax reductions and regulatory cuts as economic imperatives and frames himself as a conservative champion in the culture wars. The president has offered few details about how he would pull the levers of government in a second term. His most consistent argument focuses on stopping Democratic opponent Joe Biden and his party from pushing U.S. policy leftward.

Biden, for his part, is not the socialist caricature depicted by Trump. But he is every bit a center-left Democrat who frames the federal government as the force to combat the coronavirus, rebuild the economy and address centuries of institutional racism and systemic inequalities. The former vice president and U.S. senator also offers his deal-making past as evidence he can do it again from the Oval Office.

A look at where the rivals stand on key issues:

Economy, taxes

Low unemployment and a soaring stock market were Trump’s calling cards before the pandemic. While the stock market has clawed its way back after cratering in the early weeks of the crisis, unemploymen t stands at 7.9%, and the nearly 10 million jobs that remain lost since the pandemic began exceed the number that the nation shed during the entire 2008-2009 Great Recession.

Trump has predicted that the U.S. economy will rebound in the third and fourth quarters of this year and is set to take off like a “rocket ship” in 2021. He promises that a coronavirus vaccine or effective therapeutics will soon be available, allowing life to get back to normal. His push for a payroll tax cut over the summer was thwarted by stiff bipartisan opposition. But winning a second term — and a mandate from voters — could help him resurrect the idea.

First and foremost, Biden argues that the economy cannot fully recover until COVID-19 is contained. For the long-term recovery, he pitches sweeping federal action to avoid an extended recession and to address longstanding wealth inequality that disproportionately affects nonwhite Americans.

His biggest-ticket plans include a $2 trillion, four-year push to eliminate carbon pollution in the U.S. energy grid by 2035 and a new government health insurance plan open to all working-age Americans (with generous subsidies). He proposes new spending on education, infrastructure and small businesses, along with raising the national minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Biden would cover some but not all of the new costs by rolling back much of the 2017 GOP tax overhaul. He wants a corporate income tax rate of 28% (lower than before but higher than now) and broad income and payroll tax hikes for individuals with more than $400,000 of annual taxable income. All that would generate an estimated $4 trillion or more over 10 years.

Biden frames immigration as an economic matter as well. He wants to expand legal immigration slots and offer a

Joe Biden Has 91 Percent Chance of Winning Electoral College, Latest Economist Forecast Predicts

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has a seemingly prohibitive chance of winning the presidency after gaining a majority of electoral college votes, according to the latest election forecast from The Economist.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks to reporters after making a campaign stop in Hebron, Ohio on October 12, 2020.

© Chip Somodevilla/Getty
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks to reporters after making a campaign stop in Hebron, Ohio on October 12, 2020.

Biden is given a 91 percent chance of winning the electoral college in the forecast as of Monday, while President Donald Trump is given a 9 percent chance. The forecast also predicts that the former vice president is all but certain to win a majority of the popular vote, having a 99 percent chance of winning the lion’s share of the national vote.

Election Day 2020: Where Trump, Biden Stand In The Polls 30 Days Before Nov. 3



With 270 electoral college votes needed to win the presidency, Biden is predicted to win an estimated 347 electoral votes, while 191 are estimated for Trump. The forecast is based on a predictive model that simulates 20,000 plausible election outcomes, with each simulation varying vote shares to account for possible polling errors.

Although the model puts the president at a distinct disadvantage, it does not completely write him off. A range of 116 to 312 electoral votes are predicted for Trump, while 226 to 422 votes are predicted for Biden. Scenarios where neither candidate reaches 270 votes were predicted in fewer than 1 percent of simulations.

The forecast looks far from favorable for Trump, but supporters of the president may be quick to point out that similar forecasts were made before his surprise 2016 victory over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Some 2016 forecasts suggested that Trump had almost no chance of winning, with the Princeton Election Consortium predicting that Clinton had a 99 percent chance of winning and The Huffington Post giving her a 98 percent chance.

FiveThirtyEight, which presented a somewhat more favorable outlook for Trump and ultimately gave him a 28.4 percent chance of winning by Election Day 2016, is currently giving the president a 13 percent chance of winning against Biden, nearly identical to the 13.1 percent chance he was given against Clinton on October 12, 2016.

However, Biden is polling better than Clinton was at the same point in the last election. Biden was leading Trump an average of 10.4 percent nationally on Monday, while Clinton was ahead by 6.3 percent at the same point. Clinton’s lead shrunk to an average of 3.9 percent by Election Day, before she ended up winning the national popular vote by 2.1 percent despite losing the electoral college.

State polling also looks more favorable for Biden when compared to Clinton. In Pennsylvania, which the forecast from The Economist deems most likely

Joe Biden Holds 50-point Lead among College Students: Poll

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden holds a 50-point lead over President Donald Trump among college students, new polling data has found.

a man holding a gun: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks to Union members after touring a plumbers union training center in Erie, Pennsylvania on October 10, 2020.

© Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks to Union members after touring a plumbers union training center in Erie, Pennsylvania on October 10, 2020.

According to the latest survey of students released by College Pulse and Chegg on Friday, more than two thirds of undergraduates (69 percent) intend to vote for Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris on November 3.

By comparison, fewer than one in five (19 percent) told pollsters that they would vote for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to have a second term in the White House. A further six percent said they would be voting for a third party candidate.

Biden’s popularity among college students has remained roughly level over the past few months, but is still a strong 10-point increase on his May 19 favorability rating with the group.

Undergraduates are also more confident that Trump will fail to be re-elected in less than a month’s time.

Asked if they believed the president would win a second term on September 22, 57 percent of students said no, while 43 percent believed he could pull it off. But two weeks later, more than six in ten (62 percent) told pollsters Trump would not win on November 3 as just 38 percent backed his chances.

Election Day 2020: Where Trump, Biden Stand In The Polls 30 Days Before Nov. 3



Breaking the results down along demographic lines, Chegg also found that Biden lead Trump among students of all genders, races and high school backgrounds. Republican students were the only sub-group that broke for the Trump and Pence ticket.

However, not all of the survey results looked positive for Biden. According to Chegg, the former vice president has seen his support among Black college students fall by 11 percent over the past three weeks from a high of 88 percent to 77 percent.

Chegg and College Pulse surveyed more than 1,500 full-time and part-time college students on October 6 for their latest poll. Its margin of error is unclear.

The picture from polling of undergraduates does not match up with the mood among the wider public, according to national polls of all demographics.

At the time of writing, the FiveThirtyEight national head-to-head poll tracker puts Biden a little more than eight points ahead of Trump—or a 42-point climb down from his lead among college students in the latest Chegg poll.

One survey released by ABC News and The Washington Post on Sunday found that Trump was 12 points behind Biden among likely voters, and trailing by 11 points among registered voters as of October 9.

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