Democrats Are Getting Really Stressed About a Trump-Biden Rematch

Democrats are raising concerns about Joe Biden’s reelection odds in light of new polling that shows the president trailing Donald Trump in five swing states. The poll, published Sunday by The New York Times and Siena College, looked at Biden’s policy vulnerabilities and lagging support in swing states exactly one year out from the 2024 election. Respondents were particularly wary of his age—if reelected, he would be 86 by the end of the term—along with his handling of the economy, immigration, and national security.

Discussing the poll on CNN Sunday, David Axelrod, the Democratic strategist who directed both of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, said that this may be the “last moment” for Biden to consider dropping out. “As I’ve said for like a couple years now, the issue’s not—for him is not political, it’s actuarial,” Axelrod said. “You can see that in this poll and there’s just a lot of concern about the age issue, and that is something I think he needs to ponder.”

“Is this the best path?“ he added. “I suspect that he will say yes, but time is fleeting here.”

Of course, we’re still a while away from the general election for president. Polls tend to get gradually more accurate the closer we get to an election, and one poll is just a snapshot of the state of the race today, not a prediction. But this much-hyped survey is far from the first batch of bad news for the Biden campaign: In September, a Washington Post and ABC News poll found Trump leading him by nine points in a head-to-head matchup. But the Times and Siena College poll, which was of registered voters in battleground states, shows Biden leading Trump in Wisconsin but trailing him by five points in Arizona, four in Pennsylvania, five in Michigan, six in Georgia, and double digits in Nevada—states that all went for Biden in 2020. On the economy, a strong majority of swing state voters—59% to 37%—indicated their preference for Trump over Biden. Moreover, 71% of respondents, including 54% of self-described Biden supporters, said the president was “too old” to take on another term. Only 39% of those voters felt the same way about Trump, despite him being just three years younger.

Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, described the poll as yet another red flag for the party. “I was concerned before these polls, and I’m concerned now,” he said on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday. “These presidential races over the last couple of terms have been very tight. No one is going to have a runaway election here. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, concentration, resources. And so we have our work cut out for us.”

That sentiment was echoed by former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau, who noted that figures produced by the Times and Siena College were largely accurate leading up to the Senate midterm elections last year. “[I] don’t think it’s very productive to just dismiss/unskew a high quality poll that also happens to be roughly in line with the averages,” he wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, adding “the message of this poll is: we gotta get to work.”

Pramila Jayapal, a Democratic congresswoman from Washington, was less optimistic. The lawmaker told MSNBC on Sunday that Biden is in “great trouble,” especially among young voters, an apparent reference to an item in the Times and Siena College poll that found the president is neck and neck with Trump among voters aged 18–29. “I will tell you, this is the first time…that I have felt like the 2024 election is in great trouble for the president and for our Democratic control, which is essential to moving forward.” She also acknowledged that young people, Arab Americans, and Muslim Americans “are not going to be brought back to the table easily” given the response from those demographics regarding the White House’s support for Israel’s war in Gaza.

The Biden campaign, meanwhile, has sought to downplay the poll by highlighting past polls that didn’t reflect election results. “Gallup predicted an 8 point loss for President Obama only for him to win handedly a year later,” Biden campaign spokesperson Kevin Munoz said in a statement, per Reuters. “We’ll win in 2024 by putting our heads down and doing the work, not by fretting about a poll.”

During the last presidential election, a Times and Siena College poll showed Biden was the most electable Democrat in the primary. Four years later, however, the same poll reveals that Biden is a decidedly weak choice for the party. “If the 2024 matchup featured a Democrat other than Biden running against Trump, the ‘generic’ Democrat would be ahead by seven to 12 points in five of the states and ahead by three points in Nevada,” Siena College Research Institute director Don Levy noted.

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