As we approach the one-year mark before the 2024 presidential election, new polling data sheds light on President Biden’s vulnerability. His consistently low approval ratings, concerns about his age, and neck-and-neck competition with former President Trump in head-to-head polls have raised alarms, particularly in battleground states.
Within the Democratic Party, there’s a division of opinion about the implications of these findings. Some criticize Biden’s team for perceived complacency, while others argue that he needs to energize his base. On a more optimistic note, some Democrats believe that Trump is a risky bet for a general election due in part to the aftermath of the January 6, 2021 events.
A Democratic strategist, speaking on the condition of anonymity, expressed concerns: “What the White House has not come to terms with is, next year’s election is going to be a referendum on the president — and right now he is losing that vote.”
The strategist further highlighted the astonishing aspect of Biden being tied with a former president facing numerous charges. Trump would be a slight favorite in a 2024 rematch if the election were held today, based on national polling and the electoral college dynamics.
National polling averages, such as RealClearPolitics (RCP), have shown Trump leading for the past month, although he trailed Biden during most of the summer. An Emerson College poll even gave Trump a 2-point lead nationally.
Moreover, recent Bloomberg/Morning Consult polls in key states, including Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, revealed Biden trailing, though by relatively narrow margins. It’s worth noting that Biden won all four of these states in the 2020 election.
While not all polls indicate a grim outlook for Biden, the closeness of the numbers underscores ongoing concerns within Democratic circles. Biden’s age, as the oldest president ever, has raised red flags. Several surveys have shown that over 70 percent of the public has doubts about his ability to serve a second term.
His overall approval rating, as per data from FiveThirtyEight, was a mere 41 percent with 54 percent disapproving.
Vice President Harris shares a similar approval rating, which becomes electorally relevant due to concerns about Biden’s age. Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley has consistently argued that a vote for Biden in 2024 would effectively usher in a Harris presidency.
For some on the left, given the tight election polls, it is imperative for Biden to energize the Democratic base, including Black and Latino voters, as well as younger voters.
As President Biden faces the lead-up to the 2024 election, energizing key demographics may prove to be a complex task. There have been limited advancements on issues significant to the Black community, such as voting rights. Immigration remains a contentious topic and one where the President’s approval ratings are notably lower. Additionally, young progressives often hold more progressive policy stances than the President, making it crucial to galvanize this base.
Michele Weindling, the political director of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-oriented progressive group, emphasized that simply portraying Biden as the “lesser of two evils” may not suffice. She noted that Biden’s age isn’t inherently a hindrance to rallying younger voters, pointing to the enthusiasm among youthful progressives for Senator Bernie Sanders, who is over 82 years old.
However, Weindling highlighted significant policy disparities between her group and the President, including issues like climate change and the Israel-Palestine conflict. She stressed the urgency of addressing ongoing conflicts, such as the Israel-Gaza situation.
Some Democrats are more optimistic about Biden’s chances in the 2024 election. They draw parallels with past Democratic presidents like Obama and Clinton, who overcame challenging polling periods in their first terms to secure reelection. Proponents also cite Biden’s robust job creation record, declining inflation, and the expectation that the benefits of his legislative achievements will become more apparent over time.
Biden’s experience and measured demeanor are seen as assets that could appeal to many voters. His recent visit to Israel and his efforts to address international crises, including the war in Ukraine, have been highlighted as indications of his leadership.
Nonetheless, the most significant factor buoying Democratic optimism is the current state of the Republican Party. Former President Trump, the presumed GOP nominee, is entangled in various legal matters, including a civil trial and allegations related to January 6, election interference in Georgia, business conduct in New York, and the handling of sensitive documents at Mar-a-Lago. Additionally, the Republican House has been without a Speaker for over two weeks, reflecting internal divisions and challenges in governing.
The general perception is that these factors may hinder the Republican Party’s ability to effectively govern, contributing to guarded Democratic optimism about the 2024 election. Despite the closeness of the polls, many Democrats would prefer to be in President Biden’s position than that of former President Trump.
As the 2024 election approaches, the political landscape appears finely balanced, keeping many Democrats on edge.