Joe Biden Would Make a Better Wartime President Than Donald Trump: Poll

More American voters would put their trust in Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden than President Donald Trump to lead the country if it went to war, according to a new poll conducted two weeks before the election.

The Redfield & Wilton Strategies survey conducted on behalf of Newsweek found that 44 percent of those polled thought former Vice President Biden "best embodies the ability to lead the United States during a war."

Thirty-seven percent chose Trump, while 19 percent said they did not know who would be best. The online poll was conducted on 17 and 18 October, surveying 3,150 weighted registered U.S. voters.

Both male and female respondents chose Biden over Trump. Of the women asked, 44 percent said Biden would be a better wartime leader compared to 35 percent who said Trump. Among men, 44 percent again chose Biden with 40 percent choosing Trump.

Biden also fared better than the incumbent across all age groups. The most pro-Biden was the 18-24 group, 47 percent of whom chose the Democratic challenger and 30 percent of whom chose Trump.

The Democrat also came out on top among voters across all educational levels and all religious groups apart from Protestants, who chose Trump by 49 to percent to Biden's 37. Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu respondents all comfortably favored Biden's potential leadership over Trump's.

Those who voted for Trump in 2016 heavily favored the president, 81 percent backing him as a wartime leader over Biden. Those who voted for Hillary Clinton strongly supported Biden with 82 percent choosing him over Trump as a wartime leader.

Forty-six percent of those who voted for another candidate chose Biden as a better wartime leader versus 18 percent who chose Trump. Of those who didn't vote at all in 2016, 38 percent thought Biden would better lead the U.S. through a war compared with 26 percent who chose Trump.

The president has not started any new wars in his first term, despite concerns among opponents that his confrontational form of diplomacy would risk conflict. Trump has, however, intensified ongoing American efforts to contain Iran and expanded the number of drone strikes across the Middle East and in parts of Africa.

He has also tried to end long-running American wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, in line with one of his central 2016 campaign promises.

Trump has cast himself as a wartime president during the COVID-19 pandemic. For all his combative rhetoric, Trump—who himself was infected earlier this month—has been widely criticized for his administration's inability to control its spread, plus its unwillingness to support public health initiatives designed to slow the pandemic.

Elsewhere, Trump has skirted fresh conflict in the Middle East through his confrontation with Iran. The two sides came close to open war earlier this year after the U.S. assassinated Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq. Iran retaliated with a ballistic missile barrage against American troops in Iraq, injuring more than 100.

The two sides ultimately stepped back from the brink of war, though Trump's opponents criticized the president's decision to assassinate Soleimani—an act declared unlawful by an independent United Nations investigator—and risk a wider conflict.

Trump has consistently framed Biden as too weak to serve as president, suggesting that a Democratic administration led by the former vice president would be unable to maintain order at home and be exploited by America's rivals abroad.

Biden has put diplomacy at the center of his foreign policy platform. He has vowed to revive the multilateralism often eschewed by the Trump Administration, with a focus on America's traditional alliances that have been strained over Trump's time in office. The current administration, Biden claimed, has left America's reputation "in tatters."

Newsweek has contacted the Trump and Biden campaigns to request comment on the poll's findings.

Donald Trump, Joe Biden, poll, election 2020
This file photo shows President Donald Trump at a Make America Great Again campaign rally on October 19, 2020 in Prescott, Arizona. Caitlin O'Hara/Getty Images/Getty