As President Joe Biden continues to poll behind former President Donald Trump for a potential head-to-head matchup in 2024, recent surveys indicate he is also faring much worse than the Republican on issues that are most important to voters.
Trump has been trending ahead of Biden in national and crucial battleground state polls a year out from a hypothetical rematch, and is currently up by 3.2 points in the RealClearPolitics (RCP) average. Additionally, Biden is down by double digits against Trump on questions of basic presidential competency, including the handling of voters’ top issues and concerns over the Democrat’s age, according to recent polling data.
“He should be worried, and Democrats more generally should be worried,” Dr. Charles Bullock, elections expert and political science professor at the University of Georgia, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The kinds of issues that Biden is trailing Trump on seem to be the issues that are foremost on most peoples’ minds.”
A Wall Street Journal survey released on Dec. 9 found that only 23% of voters believe Biden’s policies have helped them, compared to nearly 50% who said the same of Trump’s administration.
Ron Faucheux, president of nonpartisan polling firm President of Clarus Research Group, believes this statistic is “the worst omen for Biden,” and told the DCNF “this contrast is deadly” ahead of 2024.
“When Democrats decided to package their economic policies under the single label, ‘Bidenomics,’ it backfired, and gave a name to something voters neither liked nor trusted,” Faucheux said.
Inflation has spiked under the Biden administration, which many critics attribute to the president’s record spending advanced by congressional Democrats. The Inflation Reduction Act, the American Rescue Plan, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and other pieces of Biden’s economic agenda are responsible for green-lighting trillions in spending.
The WSJ poll found that Biden was down by double digits against Trump on who voters trust to handle issues relating to the economy and inflation, as well as immigration, crime and the wars in Ukraine and Israel.
Recent battleground state polling has affirmed the national surveys, finding that Biden is far behind Trump on key issues voters are concerned about going into election year.
A Morning Consult/Bloomberg survey published Thursday shows that across seven swing states — Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada and North Carolina — 51% of voters said the country’s economy was better off under Trump compared to 34% under Biden. The numbers were nearly identical when asked if they’re better off financially now than they were when Trump was president.
Trump also scored double-digits higher than Biden on who the electorate trusts to handle the economy, crime and immigration — which voters said were some of the most pressing issues to them ahead of 2024, according to the Morning Consult/Bloomberg poll.
Another battleground state poll, conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies in Arizona, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan and Pennsylvania, yielded similar results. In all of the states, Trump was ahead of Biden by double digits on issues concerning who “can get the economy going again” and “who will be tough on China.”
“The voters see the same decline for our country where we look weak. Where the economy’s bad, where our enemies are taking advantage of this weakness, and you’ve got a world where you’ve got really bad wars in Ukraine and now in the Middle East, and Biden can’t stop it,” John McLaughlin, CEO and partner of McLaughlin & Associates, which works closely with the Trump campaign, told the DCNF. “The sooner the election happens, the better off the voters will be, and the better off the country will be.”
Biden is also lagging far behind Trump on who voters believe are better fit to serve another term, given the current and former presidents are 81 and 77 years old, respectively.
Trump led Biden 45% to 29% on the question of who “is mentally up for the job” in the WSJ poll, and was ahead by 34 points on “physical stamina.”
An Economist/YouGov survey released Wednesday found that 55% of voters believe Biden’s health and age would “severely limit his ability to do the job,” while only 26% said the same of Trump.
The battleground state polls yielded similar results on the president’s sharpness, stamina and physical and mental health.
Bullock argued that Trump has been successful in messaging on the age issue, noting his “Sleepy Joe” nickname for Biden, posing a sharp contrast between the two men.
“It has taken hold, and it’s been augmented by some things, like when Biden stumbles or falls or that sort of thing,” Bullock told the DCNF. “Well, that kind of underscores, or reinforces, the message that Trump has been putting out.”
Additionally, polling suggests Trump fares better on some personal attributes that are essential to the presidency.
The Economist/YouGov poll found that only 36% of voters believe Biden is a strong leader, compared to nearly 60% who said the same of Trump. Biden was also down by double digits on questions of who the stronger leader is and who knows how to get things done in nearly all of the swing states Redfield & Wilton Strategies surveyed.
“All of these polls point to voters having already decided against Biden on the current merits,” Jon McHenry, a GOP polling analyst and vice president at North Star Opinion Research, told the DCNF. “They just don’t think he’s up to the job, whether we’re asking about traits like stamina and sharpness or about policies like the economy and immigration.”
The last time an incumbent president had nearly as low of an approval rating going into an election year as Biden does, it was Jimmy Carter in November 1979, according to Gallup. Biden’s most recent job performance score was at 37% in November, which is 3 points lower than Carter’s was just a year before he lost to Republican Ronald Reagan by nearly 10 points.
“As we move closer to the start of 2024, this may be the last opportunity for Biden to question his own political assumptions —and to decide not to run,” said Faucheux. “That would be the lighting strike that changes everything.”
The RCP average for a 2024 national Democratic and Republican primary, based on the most recent polling, indicates Biden and Trump are leading their respective fields with 68% and 60% support, respectively.
Neither Biden nor Trump’s campaigns responded to the DCNF’s requests for comment.
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