President Biden is currently behind Donald J. Trump in five out of six crucial battleground states one year before the 2024 election, according to recent polls conducted by The New York Times and Siena College. The polls reveal widespread doubts about Biden’s age and widespread dissatisfaction with his handling of the economy and other issues. In Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, Biden is losing to Trump by margins of three to 10 percentage points among registered voters. He only holds a lead in Wisconsin by two percentage points. Across all six battleground states that Biden won in 2020, he trails Trump by an average of 48 to 44 percent.
The polls also indicate a significant level of discontent among voters, with a majority stating that Biden’s policies have personally harmed them. They also highlight the fraying of the multiracial and multigenerational coalition that elected Biden, as demographic groups that heavily supported him in 2020 now show closer contests. Additionally, two-thirds of the electorate believe that the country is moving in the wrong direction. Biden’s lead among certain groups has significantly decreased, with voters under 30 favoring him by only one percentage point and his lead among Hispanic voters in single digits. Furthermore, his advantage in urban areas is only half of what Trump holds in rural regions. While women still favor Biden, men prefer Trump by a significant margin, reversing the gender advantage that Democrats have seen in recent years.
A notable finding is the unexpected support for Trump among Black voters in these states, reaching 22 percent, a level rarely seen for a Republican in modern presidential politics. When combined, these results show Trump leading in Nevada by 10 points, Georgia by six points, Arizona and Michigan by five points, and Pennsylvania by four points. Biden maintains a two-point lead in Wisconsin.
The polls highlight the unpopularity of both Biden and Trump, but voters who believe the nation is on the wrong track are directing their frustrations towards Biden. Concerns about Biden’s age and mental sharpness are evident, with 71 percent of voters believing he is “too old” to be an effective president. This sentiment is shared across all demographic and geographic groups, including 54 percent of Biden’s own supporters. In contrast, only 19 percent of Trump supporters view him as too old. Biden also faces a significant disadvantage when it comes to economic matters, with 59 percent of voters trusting Trump over Biden in this area. Economic issues are expected to play a crucial role in the 2024 election, with nearly twice as many voters suggesting that it will determine their vote compared to social issues.
Despite these challenges, Biden still has time to turn the situation around. Economic indicators are positive, even if voters do not perceive them as such. Trump remains a polarizing figure, and Biden’s well-funded campaign will aim to address his weak spots among certain demographics. Biden’s team also points out that Democrats were able to limit losses in the 2022 midterm elections, despite Biden’s poor approval ratings at the time. However, the current survey indicates that Biden starts the next year at a disadvantage, even with Trump facing criminal charges and a trial in 2024. If the poll results are reflected in the election next November, Trump would have a strong chance of winning more than 300 Electoral College votes, well above the 270 required to secure the presidency. Another concerning sign for Democrats is that voters across all income levels believe that Biden’s policies have personally harmed them, while crediting Trump’s policies for helping them.
It is important to note that these polls were conducted as Biden prepares to celebrate his 81st birthday, making him the oldest president in American history. His age and mental acuity are viewed as significant weaknesses, with 62 percent of voters doubting his mental sharpness. However, Biden’s vulnerabilities extend beyond these factors, as voters also prefer Trump over him on immigration, national security, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Only on abortion does Biden have a slight advantage over Trump. These results suggest that Biden’s path to victory in 2020, which involved rebuilding the blue wall in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania and expanding support in Arizona and Georgia, may be challenging.
While Biden has faced poor poll numbers in the past and still managed to perform better than expected in the 2022 midterm elections, the current survey paints a concerning picture for his chances in 2024. Trump’s strong support and significant advantages on various issues, such as the economy, raise doubts about Biden’s ability to secure re-election.