Washington: Public opinion surveys show Donald Trump is slightly ahead of Joe Biden as the United States enters its 2024 election year. Trump’s support has not changed since June: about 44-45% of those polled say they will vote for him.
Many in the Democratic Party worry more about Biden’s weaknesses than Trump’s strength. In November, one of Barack Obama’s top election advisors urged Biden to reconsider seeking re-election for the sake of both the party and the nation. As of October 2023, only 37% of respondents in a Gallup poll said they approved of Biden’s performance as president, while 48% strongly disapproved, and another 9% disapproved to an extent.
The American economy is growing, and the unemployment rate is low, but Biden gets little credit. A November 2023 poll by NBC showed that 59% of Americans were unhappy with the economy — higher charges for medical care anger elderly voters.
Meanwhile, higher house prices and rents via higher interest rates at the Federal Reserve impede young people — who are vital to Biden’s political base — from finding affordable homes. Opinion surveys show that 75-80% of Americans think President Biden, who is 81, is too old for another four-year term.
Finally, Biden’s firm support for Israel in its war on Hamas — despite its killing of more than 22,000 Palestinians in Gaza — infuriated many left-wing Democrats, particularly younger Americans.
According to the NBC poll, a whopping 70% of young adults between 18 and 34 disapproved of Biden’s handling of the war. Already frustrated by the economy but also rejecting Trump, many young people may abstain from voting, which would hurt Biden more than Trump.
Biden and his election team are trying to calm worried Democrats. They point out that opinion surveys made serious errors in recent elections.
In addition, the Republican Party is itself still divided among conservatives and extreme conservatives. The presidential election is a 50-state election, and the Republican Party is not organised in key states like Georgia, Arizona, and Michigan.
Trump has a solid political base, but it does not grow, and a little over half of Americans tell opinion surveys they strongly dislike him. In campaign speeches, Trump threatened to use the Department of Justice to retaliate against his political opponents if he wins. In a November speech, he called his opponents “vermin”.
This language frightens many voters.