Democrats’ tendency to hyperventilate could help them after last weekend’s New York Times-Siena College poll since they have 12 months to correct course. But simultaneously, Biden’s numbers were driven down, in part, by his age and the economy, and there is nothing he can do about the former.
If Democrats are provided with an opportunity to panic, they will, according to former party consultant Christopher Hahn. But the Aggressive Progressive podcast host underscored that Biden’s numbers in the New York Times-Siena College poll are “actually better” than former President Barack Obama’s were at the same point before his reelection in 2012.
“[Former President Donald] Trump loses to a generic [Democrat] by 8 [percentage] points,” the former aide to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told the Washington Examiner. “He has far to fall.”
Regardless, Democrats, from former Obama chief political strategist David Axelrod to Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), have questioned Biden’s candidacy after the poll.
“It’s very late to change horses; a lot will happen in the next year that no one can predict [and] Biden’s team says his resolve to run is firm,” Axelrod posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “But this will send tremors of doubt [through] the party not ‘bed-wetting,’ but legitimate concern.”
When asked whether the poll could serve as an early warning for Democrats, ensuring the party does not rest on its laurels as it did with 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Monmouth University Polling Institute Director Patrick Murray repeated that “as the stock market reading today does not predict what it will be a year from now,” surveys “are a snapshot of voter mood.”
“The current results are a sign of discontent with the current administration, but frankly, we already know that from Biden’s job approval rating,” he said.
Suffolk University Political Research Center Director David Paleologos also emphasized the poll’s assumption there will only be two candidates for president.
“The presence of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Cornel West, and/or the No Labels nominee will have a significant impact on the outcomes in these states,” he said. “As researchers, we must measure the actual ballot test choices in 2024 because the winning margins of victory in 2020 were only in the low single digits in each state. Right now, third-party options are polling over 20%, which is unprecedented.”
But that also does not bode well for Biden and is one reason why Rep. Dean Phillips (R-MN) mounted a last-minute primary challenge against him despite missing the deadline to file the requisite paperwork in Nevada.
For Northeastern University political science professor Costas Panagopoulos, it would be “risky” for those hoping to replace Biden to attempt to do so during August’s Democratic National Convention because there would “not be ample time for the national electorate to coalesce around the alternative.”
“The most likely path would be to entertain options during the primary phase and to try to come together around an alternative, even if it happens informally, with or without votes on primary ballots, and to formally anoint the successor at the convention without a fight,” he said.
The New York Times-Siena College poll found indicted, but not convicted, Trump leads Biden in five battleground states, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, all of which Biden won in 2020 and are poised to decide 2024. Biden is ahead of Trump by 2 points in Wisconsin and behind by 4 points in Pennsylvania, which are inside the survey’s margin of error of 2 points when the states are considered together and 4.8 points when they are separated out. Overall, Trump has a 5-point edge over Biden, while a generic Democrat has an 8-point advantage over Trump partly because of Biden’s age and the economy, as well as Biden’s lack of support among young and minority voters.
“Gallup predicted an 8-point loss for President Obama only for him to win handily a year later,” Biden campaign spokesman Kevin Munoz told the New York Times. “We’ll win in 2024 by putting our heads down and doing the work, not by fretting about a poll.”
Meanwhile, Biden promoted his economic agenda, Bidenomics, on Monday in the Democratic stronghold of Delaware, where he announced more than $16 billion in funding for 25 different Boston to Washington, D.C., railroad projects.
His campaign, too, amplified deputy manager Quentin Fulks and communications director Michael Tyler appearing on TV last weekend to spin the poll.
“We’re focused on laying that groundwork, talking precisely about the historic record of accomplishment that this administration has,” Tyler told MSNBC. “So when it comes time for folks to cast their ballots next year, they know exactly what it is that this administration has done for them and for their communities. And they’ll understand the choice that stands between this historic record of accomplishment and the work that the MAGA Republicans want to do to roll back the progress that we’ve been able to accomplish.”