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Polls show Americans are waking up to what a Biden-Trump rematch really means

There are some flashing red lights for Biden in the most recent polls — especially among Hispanic voters. But Trump is once again losing ground with female voters, especially suburban ones

Eric Garcia
Monday 05 February 2024 19:09 GMT
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Joe Biden says 'that's fine' if Donald Trump stays on 2024 ballots

For much of his time in the White House, President Joe Biden has faced low approval ratings. In addition, a steady stream of polls last year showed him losing to Donald Trump in a hypothetical rematch.

Progressives warned that Biden’s handling of the Israel-Gaza war, in particular, would risk him losing support among young people. Rising cost of living prices in 2021 and 2022 also caused his approval to take a hit — as well as the US exit from Afghanistan, which led to the deaths of 13 US servicemembers. More than a few surveys have shown that Biden’s age also remains a problem for him, despite the fact Trump is only a few years younger.

Yet, with the exception of Republican primary voters, most voters did not believe that the United States would undertake another Trump-Biden election. We moved from denial that it could ever happen; to anger at the realization that no other candidates would challenge Biden; to bargaining (what if we could convince a Democratic Biden challenger? What if Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis or someone else could beat Trump in a primary?) It was a very American progression through the classic stages of grief.

Now, it appears that we are moving from depression to acceptance. Trump’s overwhelming victories have made it clear that there’s really no other option — and make no mistake: Regardless of how pundits spin it, Trump still has an iron grip on a large portion of the GOP.

In the same respect, the fact that no one prominent in the party stepped up to challenge Biden and the one elected official who did — Congressman Dean Phillips of Minnesota — flamed out fantastically has made Democrats realize they’re going to have to go to polls for him again.

Earlier this week, Quinnipiac University releasing a poll showing that Biden beats Trump by six points. In particular, Biden shot up among women voters by five points, likely the result of Trump bragging regularly that he nominated the three Supreme Court justices who facilitated the death of Roe v Wade. Increased headlines about him having to pay more than $83 million for defaming E Jean Carroll likely won’t help him. And his habit of regularly insulting Nikki Haley – a Republican that many suburban women could see themselves supporting if she had a snowball’s chance — won’t endear him much to swing voters, either.

Biden also got an unexpected boost on Friday when the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the US economy added 353,000 jobs. That gives him much-needed proof that the economy is generally improving. While many people continue to feel lousy about the economy, signs exist that voters do think it has turned the corner. Biden will need to hammer the message home.

At the same time, there are still some flashing red lights for Biden in that Quinnipiac poll — namely that Trump slightly leads among Hispanic voters.

Two additional polls show that Biden is in trouble. Morning Consult found that Biden trails Trump in seven swing states — Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Nevada, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia — with Trump having an eight-point lead in Nevada, a state Biden won last time around. Trump also holds a three-point lead in Pennsylvania, where Biden was born, and, despite the case in Fulton County, an eight-point lead in Georgia.

Similarly, CNN released a poll showing that Trump holds a four-point lead, showing the spread is the same as it was in December. It showed 34 per cent of Americans have a favourable opinion of Biden while 39 per cent have a favourable opinion of Trump. While that might help the former president, it’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.

At this point, it’s quite hard for people to change their opinions on either men. Both have been in the public eye for a long time. Trump has been running for president for more than eight years now, and Biden for five.

Biden being the incumbent when most people feel the state of the country is lousy, if improving, puts him at a significant disadvantage. Meanwhile, Trump’s biggest advantage is that people will look upon the pre-Covid economy over which he presided and wish for that, despite the concerns around his erratic behaviour, his pronouncements of authoritarian wishes and dwindling abortion rights. Biden hopes that the economy that he is selling with higher wages and better jobs — alongside a sturdy democracy and protecting women’s rights — will be enough for people to look past the rising prices of the past few years.

But just because voters have accepted their fate does not mean they will gleefully waltz to the polls. After all, grieving is never that straightforward.

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