As California goes, so goes the nation – except when it won’t determine the 2024 election. President Joe Biden could spend little or even no time in the Golden State and it is all but a lock that he’ll win by double digits. Rather, next year’s presidential election is likely to come down to six critical swing states including Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
A year out, and it isn’t looking good for the sitting president – at least in a still hypothetical match-up between Biden and former President Donald Trump, who leads in five of those swing states according to a New York Times/Siena College poll. That would likely be enough for Trump to reach the 270 electoral votes needed to win. Biden only leads in Wisconsin, and even there it is a razor-thin margin, where Biden has 47 percent support among likely voters compared to Trump’s 45 percent.
The next closest state was Pennsylvania, where Biden is now trailing Trump by four points (44 to 48 percent), followed by Arizona, where Trump has a five-point advantage (49 to 44 percent respectively) over Biden. In Michigan Trump also has a five-point lead with 47 percent to Biden’s 43 percent, and in Georgia Biden is down by six at 43 percent to Trump’s 49 percent.
However, the biggest surprise of the new poll is that Trump has a 10-point lead in Nevada, where the former president sits at 52 percent to Biden’s 42 percent. That is notable as George W. Bush was the last Republican to win the Silver State.
These Are Truly The Swing States
Though Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin were once infamously part of the “Blue Wall” of states that reliably went for the Democratic candidate in recent presidential elections, Trump successfully won all three – as well as Arizona and Georgia.
Only Nevada had gone for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016 and then for Biden in 2020.
Biden successfully rebuilt the “Blue Wall,” a point he made days after the election even as he declared there are “no blue states or red states,” and he also successfully flipped Arizona and Georgia – states that were once reliably Republican strongholds.
Biden’s Approval Rating Is a Problem
So what is different now? The answer may be that Biden is simply winning an “unpopularity contest” against Trump!
Biden’s approval rating is the lowest of any modern first-term president at this point.
According to Nate Cohn, The New York Times chief political analyst, “The striking results seem to be more a reflection of Biden’s weakness than Trump’s strength. Trump is just as unpopular as he was when he lost the election three years ago, if not slightly more so.”
“Instead, the change is the public’s view of Biden,” added Cohn. “During his time in office, attitudes toward him have turned decidedly negative. In the last election, voters judged him to be more likable than Trump, to have a better temperament and to have a more appealing personality. Those advantages have largely disappeared.”
The paper of record noted that Biden appears especially weak among young, Black, and Hispanic voters. The latter two especially were once a solid part of the Democratic base.
Too Early to Call the Race
But Election Day is still a long way away, and Trump has a sea of legal issues to navigate. Biden may be unpopular now, and a lot can – and likely will happen between now and then. Moreover, many voters who aren’t so eager about Biden now may find him the lesser of two evils when they cast their ballots.
“As the race gets going, attitudes might change quickly,” suggested Cohn. “But one year out, Biden faces big challenges to his re-election.”
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.