Joe Biden holds an 8-point lead over President Donald Trump in a head-to-head match-up for president, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University, as the former vice president moves from likely to presumptive Democratic nominee.
The poll, released Wednesday, found Biden is the top choice among 49% of registered voters and Trump the top choice of 41%. Biden is boosted by self-identified independent voters, who support him over Trump 44%-35%
It's a slightly tighter race than when a Quinnipiac Poll in March found Biden ahead of Trump, 52% to 41%. The small shift comes as Trump's job approval rating has increased from 41% to 45% amid the coronavirus outbreak.
"It is a small bump, but we're seeing not a huge change though overall in this race," said Mary Snow, a polling analyst Quinnipiac, attributing the movement to the "rally around the flag" effect during the coronavirus crisis.
More: Analysis: Trump's approval rating is rising amid the coronavirus crisis. What could it mean for November?
Still, even though the approval rating is Trump's highest of his presidency, Snow noted it's not a majority. Other national polls have also shown Trump's approval rating tick up during the pandemic.
"In an election year, in a head-to-head match-up, the big question is, is that where it levels off? Is that the biggest bump that he will get? Going into an election year at under 50%, it's challenging."
The poll - a survey of 2,077 self-identified registered voters conducted April 2 to April 6 with a margin of error of +/- 2.2 percentage points - comes as U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out of the Democratic primary but urged his supporters to still back him in upcoming primaries ahead of the DNC convention.
A March 27 Fox New poll found Biden leading Trump 49%-40 while an ABC/Washington Post the same week had Biden ahead 48%-46%. The Real Clear Politics average of polls has Biden ahead by 6.3 percentage points.
Biden leads Trump by 9 points in the Quinnipiac Poll on the question of who's better to handle a crisis and by 7 points on health care, but Trump still leads on who's best to handle the economy, by 5 points.
However, Americans have increasing concerns about the state of the economy as employment has skyrocketed and the market has soured amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
More: 'Really overwhelmed': Americans are facing mounting issues filing for unemployment during COVID-19 crisis
The poll found 55% of Americans believe the country is in a recession while more than half, 54%, believe it will grow worse than the Great Recession in 2008. Only 31% of voters described the economy as excellent or good, while 66 percent of voters say it is not so good or poor.
Snow called it a "stunning reversal."
"Just a month ago two-thirds were saying the economy was excellent or good. There's a very bleak view going forward and yet President Trump is holding steady on his job approval rating when it comes to the economy."
The poll found 46% of respondents support Trump's handling of the coronavirus outbreak, compared to 51% who disapprove, putting him below governors and Dr. Anthony Fauci. Fifty-five percent said Trump did not respond aggressively enough to the virus.
"You're seeing more disapproval than approval on the way he's reacted to this," Snow said.
Approval ratings on handling of the coronavirus include:
Fauci: 78% approve, 7% disapprove;
"Your state's governor": 74% approve, 24% disapprove;
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: 59% approve, 17% disapprove;
Trump: 46% approve, 51% disapprove;
Congress: 44%approve, 46% disapprove.
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joe Biden leads Donald Trump by 8 points, new Quinnipiac poll finds