Trump leads in 5 critical states as voters blast Biden, Times/Siena poll finds
By Shane Goldmacher
President Joe Biden is trailing Donald Trump in five of the six most important battleground states one year before the 2024 election, suffering from enormous doubts about his age and deep dissatisfaction over his handling of the economy and a host of other issues, new polls by The New York Times and Siena College have found.
The results show Biden losing to Trump, his likeliest Republican rival, by margins of 3 to 10 percentage points among registered voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Biden is ahead only in Wisconsin, by 2 percentage points, the poll found.
Across the six battlegrounds — all of which Biden carried in 2020 — the president trails by an average of 48% to 44%.
Discontent pulsates throughout the Times/Siena poll, with a majority of voters saying Biden’s policies have personally hurt them. The survey also reveals the extent to which the multiracial and multigenerational coalition that elected Biden is fraying. Demographic groups that backed Biden by landslide margins in 2020 are now far more closely contested, as two-thirds of the electorate sees the country moving in the wrong direction.
Voters younger than 30 favor Biden by only a single percentage point, his lead among Hispanic voters is down to single digits and his advantage in urban areas is half of Trump’s edge in rural regions. And while women still favored Biden, men preferred Trump by twice as large a margin, reversing the gender advantage that had fueled so many Democratic gains in recent years.
Black voters — long a bulwark for Democrats and for Biden — are now registering 22% support in these states for Trump, a level unseen in presidential politics for a Republican in modern times.
Add it all together, and Trump leads by 10 points in Nevada, 6 in Georgia, 5 in Arizona, 5 in Michigan and 4 in Pennsylvania. Biden held a 2-point edge in Wisconsin.
In a remarkable sign of a gradual racial realignment between the two parties, the more diverse the swing state, the further Biden was behind, and he led only in the whitest of the six.
Biden and Trump are both deeply — and similarly — unpopular, according to the poll. But voters who overwhelmingly said the nation was on the wrong track are taking out their frustrations on the president.
Biden still has a year to turn the situation around. Economic indicators are up even if voters do not agree with them. Trump remains polarizing. And Biden’s well-funded campaign will aim to shore up his demographic weak spots. The president’s advisers have repeatedly noted that Democrats successfully limited the party’s losses in 2022 despite Biden’s poor approval ratings at the time.
Still, the survey shows how Biden begins the next year at a deficit even though Trump has been indicted on criminal charges four times and faces trial in 2024. If the results in the poll were the same next November, Trump would be poised to win more than 300 Electoral College votes, far above the 270 needed to take the White House.
Another ominous sign for Democrats is that voters across all income levels felt that Biden’s policies had hurt them personally, while they credited Trump’s policies for helping them. The results were mirror opposites: Voters gave Trump a 17-point advantage for having helped them and Biden an 18-point disadvantage for having hurt them.
For Biden, who turns 81 later this month, being the oldest president in American history stands out as a glaring liability. An overwhelming 71% said he was “too old” to be an effective president — an opinion shared across every demographic and geographic group in the poll, including a remarkable 54% of Biden’s own supporters.
In contrast, only 19% of supporters of Trump, who is 77, viewed him as too old, and 39% of the electorate overall.
Concerns about the president’s advancing age and mental acuity — 62% also said Biden does not have the “mental sharpness” to be effective — are just the start of a sweeping set of Biden weaknesses in the survey results.
Voters, by a 59% to 37% margin, said they better trusted Trump over Biden on the economy, the largest gap of any issue. The preference for Trump on economic matters spanned the electorate, among both men and women, those with college degrees and those without them, every age range and every income level.
That result is especially problematic for Biden because nearly twice as many voters said economic issues would determine their 2024 vote compared with social issues, such as abortion or guns. And those economic voters favored Trump by a landslide 60% to 32%.
The findings come after Biden’s campaign has run millions of dollars in ads promoting his record, and as the president continues to tour the country to brag about the state of the economy. “Folks, Bidenomics is just another way of saying the American dream!” Biden declared Wednesday on a trip to Minnesota.
Voters clearly disagree. Only 2% of voters said the economy was excellent.
Voters younger than 30 — a group that strongly voted for Biden in 2020 — said they trusted Trump more on the economy by an extraordinary 28 percentage-point margin after years of inflation and now high interest rates that have made mortgages far less affordable. Less than 1% of poll respondents younger than 30 rated the current economy as excellent, including zero poll respondents in that age group in three states: Arizona, Nevada and Wisconsin.
In 2020, Biden’s path to victory had been rebuilding the so-called blue wall in the Rust Belt states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and then expanding the map in the diversifying Sun Belt states of Arizona and Georgia.
The poll shows that Biden is notably stronger in the industrial northern states than in the more diverse Sun Belt.
And his vulnerabilities stretch across an expansive set of issues.
Voters preferred Trump over Biden on immigration by 12 points, on national security by 12 points and on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by 11 points. And though a 58% majority supported more economic and military aid to Ukraine — which aligns with Biden’s policy — that did not seem to benefit the president on broader questions of fitness to handle foreign affairs.
“I don’t think he’s the right guy to go toe to toe with these other world leaders that don’t respect him or fear him,” said Travis Waterman, 33, who worked in home restoration in Phoenix. He voted for Biden in 2020 but sees him as “weak” now and prefers Trump.
The gender gap on national security was enormous. Men preferred Trump 62% to 33%; women preferred Biden 47% to 46%.
Biden’s strongest issue was abortion, where voters trusted him over Trump by 9 percentage points. Biden also maintained the trust of voters by an even slimmer margin of 3 points over Trump on the more amorphous handling of “democracy.”
The New York Times/Siena College polls of 3,662 registered voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were conducted by telephone using live operators from Oct. 22 to Nov. 3, 2023. When all states are combined, the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 1.8 percentage points. The margin of sampling error for each state is between 4.4 and 4.8 percentage points.