A new Sept. 20 ABC News-Wash. Post poll shows former President Donald Trump opening up his widest lead yet against President Joe Biden in the latest head-to-head matchup, 51 percent to 42 percent.
A whopping 7 percent of 2020 Biden voters say they have switched their support to Trump since the last election, according to the poll, “Among people who reported having voted for Trump in 2020, 96 percent still support him now. Biden, though, retains fewer of his 2020 supporters, 88 percent. Of the rest, 7 percent support Trump now (up from 3 percent in February), with the rest undecided, supporting another candidate or not planning to participate.”
The news might surely be shocking to the White House and the President’s political team that is busy gearing up for the 2024 election, indicating a significant threshold has been crossed. There are now a statistically significant number of disaffected, former Biden voters who have indicated they’d rather vote for Trump.
7 percent of Biden’s 81.3 million votes in 2020 represents a gargantuan 5.7 million disaffected Biden voters, a highly significant swing in the electorate’s mood from 2020, where they view Biden far more negatively, and Trump far more positively.
According to the poll, when Trump left office, “38 percent approved of his work as president, essentially the same as Biden’s rating now. But today, looking back, 48 percent say they approve of Trump’s performance when he was in office – matching his peak as president. Essentially as many, 49 percent, now disapprove, down from 60 percent when he left the White House… Among the 56 percent of Americans who disapprove of Biden’s work in office, a wide 75 percent say that, looking back, they approve of Trump.”
So, Trump’s approval rating from his time in office now stands at 48 percent, with 49 percent disapproving, compared with Biden’s 37 percent approval and 56 percent disapproval.
In addition, Trump’s position among minorities has improved dramatically, especially among Hispanics who now say they support him, and Biden in turn has dropped dramatically: “Biden has just 50 percent support from members of racial and ethnic minority groups (the same as in May), while Trump has inched up from 32 to 39 to 43 percent support in this group in this year’s ABC/Post polls. Among Hispanics it’s a surprising 50-44 percent, Trump-Biden, albeit with a small sample.”
These are devastating numbers for an incumbent president seeking reelection, and could lead to more calls for Biden to step aside in favor of somebody younger, even as Biden has appeared committed to staying the course.
But a “The other guy did a better job” segment of the electorate means that Biden’s very presence in office is generating his new, net opposition, leading to converts for the opposition candidate, in this case Trump, the potential or perhaps even likely GOP nominee as he’s been leading nearly every national poll for the Republican presidential field all year long, including this poll, 54 percent to 15 percent over his nearest rival Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Economic factors including and especially inflation are a substantial factor to consider as 2024 approaches, and the critical, “Am I better off than I was four years ago?” analysis that voters might act on. Incumbent presidents are rewarded and punished by this metric, as Trump was in 2020 when he lost amid the Covid pandemic and millions of lost jobs.
Now, Biden might be punished as inflation continues to wreck U.S. household budgets as household median incomes have decreased 2.3 percent in 2022, according to the latest U.S. Census data. If everyone’s standard of living is declining, that can knock out any incumbent, as rare as that is, potentially making any administration’s dreams of reelection suddenly vanish. Just ask Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, and yes, Donald Trump, who all succumbed to economic circumstances. It can happen again. The cake is not wholly baked yet — but it could be getting there.
Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.