Sun. Jun 16th, 2024

Is Trump on track to blow the election (again)?

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun11,2024

Democrats are in a bit of a panic over Donald Trump’s polling numbers against President Biden — the former president has led Biden in the RealClearPolitics ballot test for months and is consistently outpolling Biden in the battleground states. 

They shouldn’t be panicking. They should be celebrating. 

When you consider how atrocious Biden’s underlying numbers are on approval, leadership, age and, well, just about everything else, Trump should be much further ahead. Only Trump’s own weaknesses are keeping Biden and the Democrats in the game. 

Biden’s bad math 

Depending on the polling, Biden is either in the worst shape of any first-term president since approval polling began or nearly the worst.  

According to the 538 average, cited by Interactive Polls, Biden averages negative 17 points, the lowest of any first-term president. None of the others cited with negative approval turned positive by Election Day — or won re-election. Gallup tracking is a little friendlier, showing Biden’s approval at 38 percent — better than both Donald Trump and Jimmy Carter, at 34 percent, at a similar moment in their respective terms.  

The RealClearPolitics Approval has Biden at negative 14 points at the writing of this piece, averaging 41.3 percent approval. The most recent Harvard-Harris Poll, which is a bit Trump-friendly, has Biden down at just 44 percent disapprove to 53 percent approve. And the most recent YouGov poll, which is a bit Biden-friendly, has the incumbent president down 39 percent to 58 percent. 

As if those numbers were not bad enough on their own, his issue numbers are worse. The top two issues for voters in both the Harris and the YouGov polls are inflation and immigration. On both issues, Biden’s approval is worse than his overall favorables. YouGov has Biden at a mere 29 percent approve on inflation with only 20 percent approval by independents, 27 percent by 18–29-year-olds and 31 percent by Hispanic voters. Harris has Biden approval running 6 points below his overall approval on both immigration and inflation. 

The desperate political spin after the State of the Union address have done nothing to dent public concerns about Biden’s age and leadership abilities. Harris has 66 percent of voters agreeing that Biden is too old (77 percent independents) and 55 percent doubting his mental capacity for the job (62 percent independents). 

YouGov shows 64 percent believing Biden is a “very” or “somewhat” weak leader, while only 36 percent consider him a strong leader. The split for independents is 71 percent weak versus 30 percent strong (numbers exceed 100 due to rounding). Biden is boosted only by reflexive Democratic support. YouGov has been polling this issue since 2020 and Biden has consistently had weak leadership numbers, but they are as bad now as they have ever been. 

Altogether, it is no surprise that 59 percent of voters do not want Biden to run again, including 66 percent of independents and 62 percent of Hispanics. Even two of the bedrock constituencies Democrats are counting on are weak for Biden, with 65 percent of 18–29-year-olds against and only 46 percent of Black voters wanting Biden to run. 

The prospects for quick improvement seem quite slim. Inflation is still stalking the economy, preventing a Federal Reserve rate cut that Team Biden is likely furiously lobbying for. The current campus unrest around the nation is a disaster for Biden, as his policy is really no policy. Admonishing the Israelis while hoping the issue fades away is clearly not working. The recent Harris poll shows a distinctly hawkish American public, with 78 percent wanting Hamas “removed from power” and 71 percent blaming Hamas for the current crisis, including majorities from all age groups. Coddling the campus faux revolutionaries is not a good way forward. 

The Democrats’ ‘trump’ card against Trump — his various legal cases — are getting very little direct support. While both YouGov and Harris polls show little support for Trump, Biden and the Democrats don’t get a pass either. In the Harris poll 57 percent think the Democrats are using the legal system against Trump, including 31 percent of their own co-partisans. 

The trials of Trump 

Given Biden’s polling, Trump should be planning his inauguration. Instead, he averages less than 2 points ahead in the national ballot test. Although he leads in all the battleground states, he has yet to crack the 50 percent mark on average. In the Great Lakes states, his average lead in each is less than 2 percent. 

For one thing, Trump remains unpopular. His net disapprove is still nearly 9 points in the RCP Average, boosted by a couple of favorable results from Rassmussen and Harris, and down nearly 11 points in the 538 average. Trump had bad approval numbers throughout his presidency (not as bad as Biden); just as memories of inflation linger, so does dislike of Trump. 

Even though the current New York criminal trial is not that damaging to Trump – just 32 percent of voters call the charges “very serious” – a plurality in the YouGov poll still think Trump is guilty, including 51 percent of independents. Harris, which has consistently polled the best numbers for Trump, has 53 percent of voters saying the various legal cases make it “impossible to run for President.” 

And this is what seems to be the anchor around Trump’s neck — all the drama and trouble around him. With Trump, everything is exhausting. Whether his constant raging on [Trump] Social, his insult comic nightclub act at rallies or the circus in general, it all nags at influenceable voters. It’s why Nikki Haley’s “end the chaos” line resonated, resurrecting her dead campaign (of course, she could not figure out how to build on that message). 

This sense of unease that is captured only indirectly in the polls is keeping Biden in contention for a race that he should have lost already. Even so, since he has no real policy to fight inflation and refuses to act on immigration, his dithering, leaderless administration should be headed for a loss regardless — perhaps closer than it should, but a loss nonetheless. 

Biden’s ace-in-the-hole is Trump himself. More than Biden winning in 2020, Trump choked away that election with his lack of discipline and attention-deficit-disorder (mis)management of COVID. It’s not a bad bet that Trump will throw away another election. He is already fumbling away opportunities at his New York trial. 

Instead of focusing on the failures of the Biden administration, not only on crime and immigration but also on containing the student protests (which are unpopular), Trump spends most of his time whining about his own victimhood. He makes a few desultory references to these issues that concern voters but never strays long from himself. 

Are voters viewing the spectacle of Trump, his trials, his rantings and his victimhood and recoiling just enough to open the door for Biden? It is not much of a speculation for voters to think that a future Trump administration wouldn’t do a thing about the issues bedeviling their own lives and instead spend four years getting even. 

The bottom line is that Trump should be cruising to an easy victory, but his character flaws are holding him back. Facing the weakest president since James Buchanan, is it possible for Trump to blow it again? 

Keith Naughton, Ph.D., is co-founder of Silent Majority Strategies, a public and regulatory affairs consulting firm. Naughton is a former Pennsylvania political campaign consultant. Follow him on X @KNaughton711.      

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

Related Post

2 thoughts on “Is Trump on track to blow the election (again)?”
  1. They shouldn’t be panicking. They should be celebrating. When you consider how atrocious Biden’s underlying numbers are on approval, leadership, age and, well, just about everything else, Trump should be much further ahead. Only Trump’s own weaknesses are keeping Biden and the Democrats in the game.

  2. They shouldn’t be panicking. They should be celebrating. When you consider how atrocious Biden’s underlying numbers are on approval, leadership, age and, well, just about everything else, Trump should be much further ahead. Only Trump’s own weaknesses are keeping Biden and the Democrats in the game. Biden’s bad math. Depending on the polling, Biden is either in the worst shape of any first-term president since approval polling began or nearly the worst. According to the 538 average, cited by Interactive Polls, Biden averages negative 17 points, the lowest of any first-term president. None of the others cited with negative approval turned positive by Election Day — or won re-election. Gallup tracking is a little friendlier, showing Biden’s approval at 38 percent — better than both Donald Trump and Jimmy Carter, at 34 percent, at a similar moment in their respective terms. The RealClearPolitics Approval has Biden at negative 14 points at the writing of this piece, averaging 41.3 percent approval. The most recent Harvard-Harris Poll, which is a bit Trump-friendly, has Biden down at just 44 percent disapprove to 53 percent approve. And the most recent YouGov poll, which is a bit Biden-friendly, has the incumbent

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *