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What do the numbers tell us about the rematch between Trump and Biden now 141 days away?

by | Jun 17, 2024

By Dave Andrusko

It’s not exactly breaking news but increasingly those in President Joe Biden’s camp show signs of raw panic. Here’s four suggestive headlines. I could have listed a dozen:

Biden can’t win from the basement

Black, Latino voters may give Trump edge

Behind Closed Doors, Biden Shows Signs of Slipping

Virginia Hasn’t Backed a Republican for President in Two Decades. Is It About to Flip?

Our first quote was from a Bloomberg editorial board, and it was brutally honest:

The numbers look grim for President Joe Biden and his party. Donald Trump, despite his criminal convictions, still leads the 2024 race by about a percentage point nationally and by significant margins in almost every battleground state. Biden’s approval rating has been underwater since 2021 and hasn’t topped 40% in nine months. Democratic Party activists report a “full-blown freakout.” …

 

But voters aren’t happy, and they dislike being told to snap out of it. Biden trails Trump by nearly 20 percentage points on the economy, while almost two-thirds of voters disapprove of his efforts to reduce inflation. Working-class voters — in particular, Blacks and Hispanics — are deserting him in significant numbers, mostly citing the cost of living.

David Lauter is the well-respected veteran reporter for the Los Angeles Times who reminds us in the second quote about (a) how close pro-life former President Trump and President Biden are in the polls; (b) the inherently limitations of surveys; and (c) the undeniable inroads Trump has made into the Latino vote and to a lesser extend Black Americans.

Lauter tells us what we all know: that the race will be a nail-biter until the end. “But there’s a twist this time,” Lauter writes. “Trump won in 2016 by appealing to the grievances of conservative white Americans. This time, his advantage over Biden comes by virtue of support from Black and Latino voters.”

For instance, in Pennsylvania, a state Biden won by a sliver in 2020, a new poll from Marist College shows that “Trump gets 23% of Black voters, compared with only 7% whom he won in 2020, according to exit polls.”

But there’s even more evidence. Appearing on CNN News Central “CNN senior data reporter Harry Enten said on that Monday former President Donald Trump is hurtling toward a remarkable performance with black voters in the 2024 election,” Jason Cohen reported this morning.

“I keep looking for this to change, to go back to a historical norm and it, simply put, has not yet. So this is the margin [Biden’s advantage among black voters], compare where we were at this point in 2020, compare to where we are now. At this point, look at this. In 2020, Joe Biden was getting 86% of the African American vote. Look at where it is now. It’s 70%, that’s a 16-point drop, John,” Enten told host John Berman.

 

“And more than that, it’s not just that Joe Biden is losing ground. It’s that Donald Trump is gaining ground. You go from 7%, single-digits at this point in 2020, to now 21% and again, John, I keep looking for signs that this is going to go back to normal, and I don’t see it yet in the polling of anything right now. We’re careening towards a historic performance for a Republican presidential candidate, the likes of which we have not seen in six decades.”

Then there are Trump’s gains in the “non-battleground” states such as Virginia. “Early polls show Trump is gaining in the non-battleground state, an ominous sign for the Democratic president,” Vivian Salama writes. Virginia is a state that ‘hasn’t backed a Republican for president since George W. Bush in 2004.”

Salama explains her analysis that favors a highly competitive race in the Commonwealth:

While Beltway population centers, including the cities of Arlington and Alexandria and eastern Fairfax County, are virtually impenetrable Democratic blocs, senior officials with the Trump campaign and the state Republican party said Virginia Beach—Virginia’s most populous city—is in play, as are western Fairfax and Stafford counties.  

 

Biden won all of those places in 2020. 

 

“If money actually starts flowing in, that would be more telling that there really is an effort by the Trump people to flip it or by Biden people to feel like they really have to defend it,” said Kyle Kondik, elections analyst at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

However, from the Biden perspective, all of these negative  developments pale in comparison to “Behind Closed Doors, Biden Shows Signs of Slipping.”

Annie Linskey and Siobhan Hughes write “Participants in meetings said the 81-year-old president performed poorly at times.” It documents perhaps Biden’s greatest weakness: his age and the mounting conviction that he is rapidly deteriorating.

Their story begins

When President Biden met with congressional leaders in the West Wing in January to negotiate a Ukraine funding deal, he spoke so softly at times that some participants struggled to hear him, according to five people familiar with the meeting. He read from notes to make obvious points, paused for extended periods and sometimes closed his eyes for so long that some in the room wondered whether he had tuned out.

In a survey of battleground states taken for the Wall Street Journal in March, “just 28% said Biden was better suited physically and mentally for the presidency, while 48% picked Trump,”  Linskey and  Hughes write.

Questions about Biden’s age were amplified in February when Special Counsel Robert K. Hur, who interviewed him for roughly five hours over two days in October during the probe into his handling of classified documents, reported that Biden’s memory had been “significantly limited.” Biden responded in a news conference: “I know what the hell I’m doing.” 

 

Americans have had minimal opportunities to see Biden in unscripted moments. By the end of April, he had given fewer interviews and press conferences than any of his recent predecessors, according to data collected by Martha Joynt Kumar, an emeritus professor at Towson University. His last wide-ranging town-hall-style meeting with an independent news outlet was in October 2021. 

 

He has had fewer small meetings with lawmakers as his term has gone on, visitor logs show. During his first year in office, even with pandemic restrictions, he held more than three dozen meetings of fewer than 20 lawmakers in the West Wing. That number fell to roughly two dozen in his second year, and about a dozen in his third year. 

One other item. No publication on this earth loathes President Trump more than the Washington Post.

So, when Post editorial is headlined “Biden should assume the polls are right, not wrong: The president’s approval rating hovers around 38 percent, and the picture is worse in swing states,” you know that they know that Biden’s dismissal of survey data is reaching dangerous levels.

For example,

Mr. Biden’s disapproval rating has continued to rise from 53 percent last fall to over 56 percent today. Polls suggest that several of Mr. Biden’s core constituencies — young people, Black people and Hispanics — are increasingly Trump-curious. In a Wall Street Journal poll of swing states, 30 percent of Black men said they would definitely or probably vote for Mr. Trump.

Unperturbed, Biden told CNN, “The polling data has been wrong all along,” which prompts the editorial board of the Washington Post to write “Rejecting the polls — relying instead on anecdotes, instincts and vibes — is political malpractice.”

What else? Lots more, which we’ll discuss tomorrow. See you  then.

Categories: Joe Biden
Tags: Joe Biden