Three reasons Trump is leading Biden
The entire Democratic political establishment freaked out recently when The New York Times published a story headlined, "Trump Leads in 5 Critical States as Voters Blast Biden, Times/Sienna Poll Finds." The story was based on a new Times survey in which voters in six key swing states - Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nevada - were asked whether they supported President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump in a 2024 matchup. The result: In five of those states, all except Wisconsin, Trump led Biden.
The poll found Trump leading by 10 points in Nevada, by 6 in Georgia, 5 in Arizona and Michigan, and 4 in Pennsylvania, while Biden led Trump by two points in Wisconsin. "If the results in the poll were the same next November, Mr. Trump would be poised to win more than 300 Electoral College votes, far above the 270 needed to take the White House," the Times concluded.
The news set off panic among many Democrats. After all, the party has bet its future on Biden. It will soon be too late to take any other course. It may be too late already.
But rather than focus on the Democratic freakout, it might be a more valuable use to time to focus on this question: Why is Trump leading Biden? Look at three big reasons.
1) Things have gone to hell since Biden became president. The New York Times quotes a voter in Pennsylvania who said, "The world is falling apart under Biden." Why wouldn't voters think that? The economy, the border, crime, war in Ukraine, war in Israel - a lot has gone terribly wrong since Biden entered the White House.
"Discontent pulsates throughout the Times/Siena poll, with a majority of voters saying Mr. Biden's policies have personally hurt them," reported the Times. That was shown most dramatically in the responses to a very simple question: "Do you think Joe Biden's policies have helped you personally or hurt you personally?" Pollsters then asked the same about Trump. "Voters across all income levels felt that Mr. Biden's policies had hurt them personally, while they credited Mr. Trump's policies for helping them," the Times reported. "The results were mirror opposites: Voters gave Mr. Trump a 17-point advantage for having helped them and Mr. Biden a 18-point disadvantage for having hurt them."
The month-old Israel-Hamas war just further underscores the sense of things going wrong under Biden. Voters say: This didn't happen under Trump. They say the same thing about Russia's invasion of Ukraine. They certainly say the same thing about the ongoing disaster at the U.S.-Mexico border and about inflation, which has eaten into their standard of living. (In the Times poll, voters said they trust Trump more on economic issues by a 59% to 37% margin.) So reason one is clear: Things have gotten worse since Trump left office and Biden became president.
2) Biden's age. The Times asked voters to agree or disagree with the following statement: "Joe Biden is just too old to be an effective president." A decisive 71% agreed. Seventy-one percent! That is a huge majority. When the Times asked the same question about Trump, just 38% agreed that Trump is "too old to be an effective president." On another question, 62% said they do not believe Biden "has the mental sharpness to be an effective president, while 44% said the same of Trump.
There's not much more to say about that. People see the 80-year-old Biden every day. They hear him speak. And every time they do, it reinforces their conclusion that he is too old for the job. They also see the 77-year-old Trump, but fewer conclude he is too old to be president. That's just the way it is.
3) The Trump prosecutions. Reason one and reason two have to do with the way the general electorate views Biden and Trump. Reason three has to do with the intensity of the way Republicans view Trump. The short version is that four indictments, plus a lawsuit in New York designed to destroy him financially, plus lawsuits across the country intended to remove his name from the 2024 ballot - all pushed by local elected Democrats, Democratic activists or the current Democratic administration - have significantly hardened the determination of some Trump supporters to keep supporting him. So, when news events occur and some less committed voters move around, the core of Trump supporters stays rock solid. There are not enough of them to elect Trump president, but they are the foundation upon which he has built his campaign.
The new poll clearly shocked many Biden supporters. Already pushback has begun, which you can be sure will continue. And indeed everyone should remember that a lot can change in the year before the election. But some things will not change - Biden will not get any younger - and the race will likely remain super-competitive until the end.
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