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How worried should Biden be about polls showing him losing to Trump?

If the 2024 election were held today, it could go to a would-be authoritarian who spent part of a campaign weekend speaking fondly of the cannibal Hannibal Lecter. According to a new series of surveys New York Times/Sienaone of which was conducted in collaboration with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Donald Trump is ahead on Joe Biden in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada. Biden is also losing support among younger and non-white voters, voting categories that were a crucial component of his winning coalition four years ago. According to polls, the president is ahead of Trump in only one of the six battlegrounds, the Wisconsin.

Biden's standing improves as polls narrow to likely voters. If he were to prevail in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan—which are within the margin of error—he would likely win reelection. But his numbers are particularly negative in the Sun Belt, where polls put him behind Trump by seven points in Arizona, by ten points in Georgia and by 12 points in Nevada, which the Democrats have not lost for 20 years.

The usual caveats apply: Polls are snapshots only and are often blurry. And while the political world has already shifted into general election mode, it may be too early for much of the general electorate to have tuned in: «The reality is that many voters are not paying much attention to the elections and have not yet begun to decide»as the Democratic pollster said Geoff Garin at the Guardian.

Meanwhile, Trump, whose presidency has been a deluge of chaos and disaster, is running on an even more authoritarian agenda this time around, is currently on trial for allegedly falsifying corporate documents for political gain, and is behaving even more bizarre and deranged than before. The concern, then, is that all the work Biden is doing—both on the campaign trail and in the Oval Office, where he has made a number of significant policy gains that eluded his predecessors—does not appear to be reflected in the polls.

In part this appears to reflect anger among some segments of the Democratic coalition over the Biden's handling of the war between Israel and Hamas. But the new polls also suggest that the dissatisfaction may run deeper than a single political dispute with the President. Although the majority of participants in the survey of the Times declared prefer a candidate who “brings politics back to normal in Washington”, an even larger majority – almost 70% of those interviewed – said that the country's economic and political systems need major reforms or even to be “demolished completely”. “For an electorate looking for a wrecking ball, Trump's chaos and nascent authoritarianism may seem like an advantage.”

But is this really the electorate? Biden favors a more optimistic view: public opinion is too respectable and normal to elect Trump again, and his strong primary results compared to Trump mean more than a few flawed polls. “I know a lot of people like to look at polls,” the president said Saturday at a campaign rally in Washington state, «but I look at the real votes».

Source: Vanity Fair

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