A view of Biden’s dilemma from across the pond

By Dave Andrusko

It is now January 4th. It is exactly 306 days until the November 5th election, meaning there is time for an awful lot to change in the race for president. That notwithstanding the British publication, The Economist, titles its most recent post “Joe Biden’s chances do not look good. The Democrats have no plan B.”

And some things can only get worse for incumbent pro-abortion President Biden. President Biden is 81; two weeks past the election he turns 82. Should he win reelection President Biden would be 86 when his second term ends.

The Economist talks about nervous Democrats.

“It is Mr. Biden’s feeble polling that is seeding the angst. The Economist’s poll tracker for the Republican primary puts Mr. Trump more than 50 percentage points ahead of his nearest rival, making him the prohibitive favourite. A polling average for the general election compiled by RealClearPolitics shows Mr. Trump ahead of Mr. Biden by a margin of 2.3 percentage points.

How and why is this different?

This is well above his showing in the past two presidential contests, in which he [Trump] consistently lagged in the polls. At this point in 2016 Mr. Trump’s support was seven points lower: he trailed Hillary Clinton by a margin of five points. At this point in 2020 he trailed Mr. Biden by five points.

So, when someone says there’s a long ways to go—as I did to start this post—that’s true. But it is no less true that, judging by the polls, Mr. Trump is in a far better position than he was 4 and 8 years ago.

I’d like to quote a long paragraph because it summarizes a great many variables:

Underpinning Mr. Trump’s strength is a broad political shift. Partisan allegiance in America may seem hysterically entrenched, but in fact it is mutable. White working-class voters powered Mr. Trump to victory in 2016; in the years since, the non-white working class has begun to shift, too. Between 2016 and 2020 Hispanic Americans, once fairly loyal Democratic voters, moved 18 points towards the Republicans. Black men are also slowly peeling away from the Democrats. Only the influx of white college graduates has kept the Democratic Party competitive nationally. These demographic trends are sizeable enough to determine the outcome of the election if they persist—and they do appear to be. The latest polls indicate higher support for Mr. Trump among African-American and Hispanic voters than he enjoyed in 2020.  “It seems like the 2024 polls right now are 2020 trends carried forward,” says Patrick Ruffini, a Republican pollster.

We’ve written about all these developments many times but it’s encouraging to hear The Economist reach the same conclusion.

To make one final point I’d like to circle back to the age issue and how President Biden’s approval ratings stack up against former President Trump at a comparable point in his presidency:

Secular trends aside, there is plainly a problem with Mr. Biden himself. The president’s net approval rating is -16 points, according to several public polling averages. That is notably worse than Mr. Trump’s at this point in his presidency. Voters are worried about his fitness for office. One of YouGov’s weekly polls for The Economist in December found that 55% of Americans think that the 81-year-old Mr. Biden’s health and age “severely limit his ability to do the job” of president, including 25% of Democrats. Only 24% of Americans want him to run for president again. Fully 61% of them do not, including 38% of those who voted for him in 2020.

Yikes! More tomorrow.