Four years ago, Joe Biden was seen as the electable candidate, a moderate Democrat aiming to appeal to the white working-class voters who had supported Donald Trump. However, recent New York Times/Siena College polls reveal that Biden’s electoral strength has waned significantly.
The new polls show Trump leading Biden in five of the six battleground states most likely to decide the presidency. Trump holds a 48% to 44% advantage among registered voters across these states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada. The only state where Biden leads is Wisconsin.
The polls also indicate that the electorate is disengaged, disaffected, and dissatisfied with both candidates. Many voters reluctantly support Biden or Trump, while others may not vote at all. This suggests the potential for a volatile campaign in the coming year.
Biden enters the campaign as a weakened candidate compared to his 2020 run. His personal likability, temperament, and character, which played a significant role in his narrow victories in these states, have eroded. Concerns about his age, economic stewardship, and appeal to young, Black, and Hispanic voters pose significant challenges to his re-election.
Trump Gains Support
Trump has made significant gains, especially among young, Black, and Hispanic voters, raising questions about Biden’s ability to retain these demographics’ support. Biden’s lead among nonwhite voters under 45 has shrunk considerably, and Trump’s support among Black voters exceeds 20%, which is unprecedented in the post-Civil Rights Act era.
The polls could indicate a potential shift in American politics if the results hold.
While these polls pose challenges for Biden, there’s still time for him to regain support. Traditional Democratic constituencies remain open to Democrats, and Biden can potentially reinvigorate these voters. A generic Democrat leads Trump by 8 points in a hypothetical race without Biden, suggesting an opportunity for Biden to reassemble his winning coalition.
“A Sign of Things to Come” for Joe Biden
Adam Bruton, a Senior Researcher at the London-based intelligence firm Winter Circle Ltd, told 19FortyFive: “Biden’s age is clearly a huge issue. That turns off voters. Couple that with a recovery that doesn’t feel as good as it is, a surprisingly progressive domestic policy which, although broadly popular in abstract, scares moderates, and just a sense that America is drifting listlessly without purpose or direction, things look very bad indeed.
“Overall I still think Biden is still in with a great chance. We are a year out from the election. People aren’t paying attention and because things aren’t going amazingly, people naturally blame the party in power. This far out is rarely reflective of the actual result a year later. This was also the case with Reagan, Bush Jr. and Obama before they won second terms.”
Bruton continued: “What I think we’re looking at is a sign of things to come, in terms of electoral coalitions. It’s been abundantly clear the democratic coalition of basically everyone who isn’t a white social conservative has been way too big for too long, and something will have to give.
“With how well Trump is polling with African Americans, Hispanics, and young people, even though I don’t think it’ll translate this time, indicates a paradigmatic shift of coalitions in future elections.
“To pull some history out, in 1928 there was a landslide victory for the GOP across the country, with the Dems only winning in the South. At the time, the core democratic base was southern white supremacists and that was basically it. But, you saw some significant shifts.
“The Dem candidate that year, Al Smith, a Catholic moderate liberal from New York, performed amazingly well in the cities and the wealthier parts of the Northeast compared to previous Dems.
“He made inroads among immigrant communities in New York, New England, and much of the Midwest. He also performed relatively well with black voters, winning around 25-30% of them. History shows us that big changes are never out of the question.”
Georgia Gilholy is a journalist based in the United Kingdom who has been published in Newsweek, The Times of Israel, and the Spectator. Gilholy writes about international politics, culture, and education.