It’s no secret that President Joe Biden’s approval ratings are worse than he’d probably like, and a new poll has surely not produced the results that his administration would like to see.
The poll, released this past weekend by The New York Times/Siena College, shows that the likely Republican nominee, former President Donald Trump, is leading Biden in five of the six most crucial battleground states. The poll, which surveyed 3,662 registered voters with a 1.8% margin of error, found Trump leading Biden in Nevada, Georgia, Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Of the six battleground states, Biden only maintains a lead in Wisconsin. The president is trailing anywhere from 44% to 48% on average across the six states — all of which he won in 2020.
As has been seen, though, polls can be misleading. The same New York Times also reported on Election Day 2016 that Trump had just a 15% chance of beating Hillary Clinton. So while this new poll is causing warning bells to go off among some Democratic strategists, others have opined that the results shouldn’t be read into that much.
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Democrats should have ‘tough conversations’While polls may often cause people to overreact, this poll “should cause alarm and force some tough conversations at the White House and in high-level Democratic circles,” Michael Tomasky wrote for The New Republic. Not only was the poll bleak, Tomasky argued, but “within various demographic groups, the news was uniformly terrible.” Tomasky noted that Trump, who he described as “the only openly racist president since probably Woodrow Wilson,” is garnering 22% of the Black vote, an unheard-of number for a Republican.
Tomasky added that while staunch liberals may see assessments of Biden as “very positive,” swing voters “have an almost violently different view.” Their issues mainly come down to foreign policy, the border and Biden’s age, and the views of swing voters are compounded by “a mainstream media and a right-wing media — and they are not remotely balanced,” Tomasky wrote. As a result, he added, the mainstream media “report on Biden’s victories and setbacks in the traditional way of Western journalism,” while right-wing publications “savage him every single day over every single thing,” leading to a back-and-forth public opinion about the president.
“The results in survey after survey show that Biden is in perilous re-election shape,” the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal opined. The Journal — which notably takes mostly conservative stances — wrote that “the war in the Middle East is now dividing Mr. Biden’s coalition, as anti-Israel progressives turn on the president.” The board did say that Biden “deserves credit for supporting Israel, and so do most Democrats,” but added that the president risks “squandering [his] legacy” if he loses to Trump.
Democrats ‘shouldn’t despair’ over the pollWhile the poll results “are alarming and a bit distressing,” they “should not cause panic,” Dean Obeidallah opined for CNN. He noted that former President Barack Obama “faced high disapproval ratings the year before the 2012 election.” While Obama’s disapproval ratings weren’t as high as Biden’s, “a number of early national polls suggested a close race between Obama and Mitt Romney,” Obeidallah added. He cited a November 2011 poll — taken a year before the election, just as the recent New York Times poll was — that “found Romney with a four-point edge.”
While Obama and Biden “are not the same candidates,” Obama “won in large part by way of a superior ground game in terms of ensuring that voters who supported him actually did cast a ballot.” As a result of Biden’s “ability so far to outraise Trump in terms of campaign donations, his campaign has more resources to invest robustly in this key part of the campaign,” Obeidallah wrote. Biden has also “already made it clear that protecting our democracy will be a cornerstone of his 2024 campaign,” Obeidallah said, and some saw the president’s “defense of democracy as one reason why Democrats overperformed in 2022.”
So while Biden may be in trouble, “there’s still plenty of time for the race to change,” Nate Cohn wrote for the Times in an analysis of their poll. There is “considerable evidence” that it won’t be tough “for Democrats to reassemble a coalition to defeat Trump, who remains every bit as unpopular as he was three years ago,” Cohn added. So while the poll “raises the specter of catastrophe for Democrats,” it remains very possible for Biden “to reassemble his winning coalition — at least on paper.”