Trump's 'law and order' messaging isn't sticking with voters as new polls show they trust Biden more on public safety

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden visited Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Thursday and met with the family of Jacob Blake, who was shot by police last month.
  • Biden's trip was vastly different than Trump's two days earlier, when the president emphasized a return to "law and order."
  • But Trump's messaging on the shooting and subsequent protests does not seem to be resonating with voters.
  • Several new polls show that voters favor Biden to lead on issues like public safey over Trump.
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Former Vice President Joe Biden's visit on Thursday afternoon to Kenosha was a markedly different scene from President Donald Trump's trip to the Wisconsin city two days earlier.

While visiting the city, Biden spoke on the phone with Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot seven times in the back by a police officer last month, triggering protests in Kenosha and across the country. The former vice president also met with Blake's family members and discussed systemic racism with community leaders.

"We've reached an inflection point in American history," the Democratic presidential candidate said on Thursday. "I honest to God believe we have an enormous opportunity now that the screen, the curtain has been pulled back on just what's going on in the country, to do a lot of really positive things."

Trump, on the other hand, did not speak to Blake nor meet his family, claiming they wanted to involve lawyers, which he found inappropriate. The president instead talked to law enforcement officials and business owners, surveyed the damage done during protests, and hammered the state's Democratic leaders, who had asked him to not show up.

During his visit, Trump continued to cast himself as the patron of "law and order," repeating the messaging around which he's built his 2020 reelection effort. Last week's Republican National Convention largely focused on similar themes. 

"The most dangerous aspect of the Biden platform is the attack on public safety," Trump said during convention. "No one will be safe in Biden's America."

Yet, several new polls released this week suggest the president's hardline strategy hasn't been swaying voters. Instead, 47 percent of registered voters said they trust Biden to handle public safety, opposed to 39 percent who have more faith in Trump, according to a Morning Consult survey. 

Similarly, 42 percent of likely voters said they would feel more safe with Biden as president, versus 35 percent who said the same for Trump, a Quinnipiac University poll showed. 

And a CNN poll also indicated that 51 percent of voters believe Biden would keep them safe from harm, compared with 45 percent who said Trump will. 

Nationally, Biden has maintained a lead in the polls, signaling that Trump's focus on pinning Biden as weak on crime and public safety has not gained much traction yet among voters.

Biden is 10 points ahead in a Quinnipiac poll, 8 points ahead in polls from CNN and Grinnell College, and 7 points ahead in polls from Reuters and USA Today/Suffolk University.

A Fox News poll also showed Biden with an advantage in three key states that Trump narrowly won in 2016: Arizona, North Carolina and Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, voters preferred Biden by five-percentage points over Trump to lead on issues such as policing and criminal justice. 

Calls for the presidential candidates to address civil unrest don't appear to be waning, however. 

Democratic advisers and strategists for the Biden campaign have reportedly warned that Trump's rhetoric may pose a risk and undermine Biden's electability in Midwestern states. 

Biden condemned violence during anti-racism protests triggered by the George Floyd killing earlier this summer and has since taken a tougher position, calling for the arrests of those engaged in looting and destroying property. 

He also recently unveiled his first nationwide television commercial addressing the issue. "Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting," he says in the commercial, according to The New York Times. "And those who do it should be prosecuted."

Still, the coronavirus pandemic appears to remain the most important issue for Americans.

Just an estimated 8 percent of adults pointed to crime as a top priority for the country, whereas an overwhelming majority, 78 percent, said they remain "very" or "somewhat" concerned about COVID-19, according to a Reuters poll.

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