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Trump leading Biden in polls: Could the Republican return to the White House?

7 months ago 81

The 2024 election is fast approaching – and there’s bad news for President Joe Biden.

A recent New York Times/Sienna College poll shows the incumbent trailing Donald Trump – his likely challenger – in nearly every swing state.

Another CNN/SSRS poll of registered voters also shows Trump leading Biden.

The results have naturally given rise to some panic in Democrats – who worry that Trump will be re-elected in 2024.

But what do the polls show exactly? And does this mean Trump will return to office?

Let’s take a closer look:

Battleground states

First, let’s take a brief look at battleground states.

While most states are solidly Democratic (blue) and Republican (red) in the United States, there are a handful of battleground states – also known as swing states (purple).

These are named for their propensity to ‘swing’ from Democratic to the Republican side and vice-versa.

In America, the winner of the US election is decided by the Electoral College – which has a total of 538 electoral votes available.

The candidate that racks up 270 electoral votes wins the presidency.

These swing states – Ohio (18), Wisconsin (10), Pennsylvania (20), Nevada (6), Arizona (11), Georgia (16) and Michigan (16) – account for nearly a fifth of the electoral votes available and are critical for any candidate to clear the magic mark of 270.

The candidate that carries a majority of these swing states – as Trump did in 2016 in his shock victory over Hillary Clinton and as Biden did in 2020 against Trump – will win the presidency.

What do the polls show?

The New York Times poll released on Sunday showed Biden is in trouble.

The incumbent president is trailing his likely in five of the six battleground states – leading only in Wisconsin.

Trump leads Biden by an average of 48 per cent to 44 per cent in those states, the poll showed.

Interestingly, the margin of error for each state in the Sunday poll is between 4.4 and 4.8 percentage points.

Biden trails Trump between 4 and 10 points among registered voters in five of six states.

Biden trails Trump by four points in Pennsylvania (his home state,) by five points in Arizona, five points in Michigan, six points in Georgia and 10 in Nevada.

Biden only leads Trump in Wisconsin.

Americans are also expressing concerns about Biden’s age with 71 per cent of those polled including 54 per cent of his own supports saying he is “too old.”

Meanwhile, just 39 per cent have the same critique of Trump who is 77 years old.

The New York Times and CNN polls showed Black support for Donald Trump in the swing states at 22 per cent — an ‘unheard of’ level for a Republican presidential candidate. AP

They also disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy.

Swing state voters said they massively favour Trump over Biden to handle the economy – 59 to 37 per cent.

Biden’s multiracial and multigenerational coalition also appears to be fraying, the polls showed.

Voters under age 30 favour Biden, who is 80, over Trump by just one per cent.

In 2020, young people voted for Biden over Trump in droves – giving him a 21-point advantage across the country.

Bidens’ edge with Hispanic voters over Trump is down to single digits.

His advantage in urban areas is half of Trump’s edge in rural regions, the polls showed.

Black voters, a core Biden demographic, are now registering 22 per cent support in these states for Trump.

Trump won just eight per cent of Black voters in 2020 and an even more meagre six per cent in 2016.

That’s at an unheard-of level for a Republican in presidential politics.

No Republican has won more than 12 per cent of Black votes in nearly fifty years.

The CNN poll showed Biden having a similar advantage over Trump among Black voters – 73 to 23.

Latinos, meanwhile, similarly gave the edge to Biden by four points.

Biden continues to lead Trump when it comes to independent voters with a four-point spread, but that’s down from a 13-point advantage in 2020.

Will Trump return to office?

Some Democrats are worried that’s a realistic possibility.

However, there is a silver lining in these polls for Biden.

The New York Times poll showed that Trump, who is facing a multitude of charges, being convicted of a criminal offence would result in around six per cent drop in support in these key states.

That might be enough to swing the election in Biden’s favour.

There are also other X-factors like a third-party candidate like Robert F Kennedy.

While many Democrats were anxious that his candidacy could draw Democratic votes away from Biden,  recent polls have shown that Kennedy could in fact sap votes from Trump.

Robert F Kennedy Jr’s candidacy potentially could swing the election towards Biden.

We could see somewhat of an inverse repeat of the 1992 election when businessman Ross Perot, campaigning as an independent, drew votes away from Republican incumbent George HW Bush and put a then little-known Democrat and Arkansas governor named William Jefferson Clinton in office.

If the Israel-Palestine war escalates, Biden could see his numbers with young people – many of whom are sympathetic to Palestine – and Arab-Americans drop even further.

Or if America is somehow drawn closer into the conflict, Biden could be re-elected to office on a surge of patriotism – as George W Bush was in 2004 against John Kerry.

Experts also say Democrats may not understood what drove African-American support for Biden in 2020.

“People fundamentally misunderstood what Black voters said in 2020,” Cliff Albright, co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund told Washington Post. “The depth of support was never there. The enthusiasm was never there for Biden. We were very pragmatic. We knew he was the best chance to beat Trump.”

But the Biden camp remains confident.

“Predictions more than a year out tend to look a little different a year later. Don’t take our word for it: Gallup predicted an 8-point loss for President Obama only for him to win handily a year later,” Biden campaign spokesperson Kevin Munoz said in a statement, referring to Democrat Barack Obama’s 2012 victory over Republican Mitt Romney.

Munoz added that Biden’s campaign “is hard at work reaching and mobilizing our diverse, winning coalition of voters one year out on the choice between our winning, popular agenda and MAGA (Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan) Republicans’ unpopular extremism. We’ll win in 2024 by putting our heads down and doing the work, not by fretting about a poll.”

The White House has been dismissive of such polls.

“There’s going to be a lot of polls out there,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters when asked about them.

Pierre also pointed to the Obama-Romney clash in 2012 and pointed out how Republicans were expecting to win big in 2022 midterm congressional elections to register a more modest showing.

The polls witnessed the Democrats retaining on to power in the Senate and Republicans gaining only a small majority in the House of Representatives.

The “Red Wave” that many on the right expected was at best a “Red Ripple.”

What do experts say?

That Democrats need not panic – yet.

A piece in CNN, taking note of Democratic victories on Tuesday in Ohio, Kentucky and Virginia, argued this could mean polls are underplaying Democrats’ strength under Biden.

Speaking to The Washington Post, veteran Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg predicted that young people and African-Americans would ‘come home’.

“Once it’s Trump and Biden next year, a big chunk of that will come back. We need all of it to come back,” Rosenberg said. “There’s a distance between Biden and younger voters that we’re going to have to overcome. This is a weakness that we’re going to have to address. I think it is doable.”

Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, who leads advocacy group Democratic Majority for Israel, told VOA, “Anybody who’s paid close attention, I think, to American politics over the last number of years would assume it’s going to be a close race.”

“The polls have consistently shown it to be a very close race. I think this poll is a bit of an outlier. It shows more support for Trump in some of these states than in lots of other polls, too.”

Political scientist Todd Belt said, “People I have talked to from the Biden campaign have told me that No. 1, it’s way too far out.”

And No. 2, they think that when it comes down to a general election, and it’s a binary choice between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, they think Joe Biden takes it because they believe that people just don’t want to go back to the chaos of the Trump years,” added Belt, a professor of political management at The George Washington University.

Munoz too pointed out that the 2012 polls showed Obama consistently trailing Romney – until the moment he wiped the floor with Romney in the Electoral College.

Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, told MSNBC on Monday that any Democratic panic “is really unjustified” with the election still one year away.

“The poll is a useful warning to Democrats about the job they have to do. And the fact is, they have their work cut out for them. The economy is the key to all that,” Sabato said. “It takes time for people to absorb new economic realities.”

The CNN piece noted that the 2024 election is still far away.

“…there’s also the possibility that Americans’ perceptions of the economy could improve in the next year and boost Biden’s standing.”

But the piece also warned about buying into the myth of the incumbent president – for example Clinton and Obama – romping home in a re-election bid.

“…the 42nd president was at 52 per cent in November 1995 and the 44th was at 46 per cent in 2011. Biden is languishing at 39 per cent, two points below Trump’s mark a year before he lost the 2020 election and ahead of only one-term Jimmy Carter.”

So, could Trump return to the White House? He absolutely could.

But will he? Or is it even likely? Only time will tell.

With inputs from agencies

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