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Partisans are equally likely to say the other candidate is ‘too corrupt’

One of the most remarkable findings from Yahoo News’s new poll is not exactly a new one.

Respondents to the poll, conducted by YouGov, were asked whether they thought a set of concerns applied to President Biden or Donald Trump. Was either of the two general-election candidates too extreme on the issues to be president? Too corrupt? Too incompetent? Too dangerous?

These are broad terms, certainly, allowing for those wanting to express distaste for a candidate to make them fit if they wished. But even given that malleability, it is striking that the difference in views of either candidate as “too corrupt” — not just corrupt, but disqualifyingly corrupt — is so modest.

About 4 in 10 respondents said that was true of Trump, while a third of respondents said so of Biden — a single-digit gap, despite a much wider gap in the number of criminal indictments and impeachments applied to the two candidates.

In general, Americans expressed more concern about Trump than Biden, albeit not by wide margins. Respondents were more likely to say that Trump was too extreme, too corrupt and too dangerous. Only on the “too incompetent” question did a larger percentage identify Biden.

Interestingly, those patterns held even when looking at partisan subgroups. Trump was more likely to be viewed as “too extreme” even by his own party than Biden was by his. Biden was more likely to be viewed as “too incompetent” by the opposing party than Trump was by Democrats.

What’s also interesting is how these numbers have shifted over time.

Yahoo and YouGov asked the same questions in May. Then, the gap between Biden and Trump on the “too corrupt” question was in the double digits, while “too incompetent” was in the single digits. Since then, the “corrupt” gap narrowed and the “incompetent” gap widened — thanks largely to shifts among Republicans.

The share of Republicans saying Biden is too corrupt jumped 12 percentage points, unquestionably because of the investigations and impeachment effort from congressional Republicans. That helped close the overall gap between the two candidates, just as the increase in Republicans saying that Biden is “too incompetent” helped expand the overall gap. Among Democrats, there was no change in the percentage saying Biden was too incompetent.

On both “too corrupt” and “too incompetent,” the gap between Biden and Trump shifted by 10 points to Biden’s disadvantage among all respondents.

This has long been an obvious if quiet aim of the Republican effort to target Biden: convince Republicans dubious of Trump’s indictments and actions that Biden isn’t any better. In the new poll, 5 percent of Republicans say Trump is too corrupt to be president. Nearly 7 in 10 say Biden is — about the same as the percentage of Democrats who view Trump as “too corrupt.”

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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