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Biden clings to the economy: His rebound in the polls against Trump

In the US presidential elections, fear seems to be changing sides: after almost five months with Donald Trump leading, even by five points, the polls ahead of the November elections, this week a positive trend began to be confirmed for Joe Biden . It would not be a spectacular comeback, for now, but the president would have already reduced his difference with the tycoon to one point, with seven months until the elections.

It was a precise month, October 2023, when the polls began to favor Trump, and political analysts were faced with a question: How was it possible that the improvements in the economy, so to speak, historic lows in unemployment and a stock market rising, would not be reflected in the polls as an advantage for the president in office?

One of the explanations given, at that time, was the age of the Democratic president. Despite his good economic performance, his 81 years made him look like an unfit candidate for a second term. But now that the primaries are over, and it is definitively known that the November 5 ballot will repeat the confrontation between Trump and Biden, it seems that the latter is beginning to gain the advantage.

Today, Trump leads Biden by one percentage point among voters across the United States, 47% to 46%, according to a survey published by The New York Times last Saturday. This represents a modest improvement for the president since February, when Trump led the same poll by four points.

Photographs of Joe Biden and Donald Trump on a screen during a Trump campaign rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on April 2, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Another survey, this time from the Financial Times, shows that American voters are increasingly in favor of Biden’s economic management: despite persistent inflation, especially in fuel prices, this index rose five points compared to February , to reach 41% of those consulted.

Even on Friday, the RealClear Polling average showed Trump just 0.4 points ahead of Biden: 44.6% to 44.2%.

However, inflation remains one of the big problems for voters, with nearly 80% of those surveyed noting that it was one of their greatest sources of “financial stress.” Erik Gordon of the University of Michigan commented to the Financial Times: “Voters remain just as concerned about inflation, but they blame Biden less. The president’s recent, more strident accusations that greedy corporations are responsible for price increases appear to have earned him points.”

Bad news, also from the polls, is that there would be a certain nostalgia among Republicans for the economy in Trump’s time. A Reuters and Ipsos survey indicated that 41% of respondents said that the former president had better management of the economy, compared to 34% who chose Biden.

Beyond the surveys, the latest official inflation data, published last week, showed an increase in the CPI for March of 0.4%, in an advance that exceeded the consensus of market estimates by one tenth and that led to inflation in 12 months to accelerate to 3.5%. Meanwhile, oil prices have risen more than 15% since the beginning of the year.

The consumer confidence index, meanwhile, set a two-year record in January 2024: the scoreboard, prepared by The Conference Board, was 114.8, the highest score since December 2021. Meanwhile, unemployment remains at very low levels, with 3.8% in the last month.

US President Joe Biden walks at a conference of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Washington, April 19, 2024. Photo: Reuters

With the election taking place on November 5, the polls have been a source of speculation for months, and especially in a meeting like this, which was always seen as a repeat of the clash between Trump and Biden in 2020. Heath Brown, from New York University, told Newsweek about how close the elections are at the moment: “Polls in recent months indicate that this is a very close race. I wouldn’t put much stock in one or two polls at this point. The trend seems to be that the campaign will be very close and I suspect the polls will reflect that until November.”

Among the political factors that would explain Biden’s new push, The New York Times listed the State of the Union address on March 7, which would have helped “calm Democratic concerns” regarding the president’s age.

Regarding the momentum the president’s campaign is gaining, the founder of the pollster Zogby International, John Zogby, commented: “This presidential race promises to be a very competitive one, especially since both candidates are very unpopular. “About 70% of voters did not want either of them to be a candidate.”

In his opinion, even without major changes in public opinion, Trump would have “lost certain points” against others won by Biden. “The main factor is that, among independent voters, today it is Biden who leads. There seem to be better perceptions of him after he gave the State of the Union address, where he seemed energetic. Likewise, Trump’s court appearances and his public image are alienating moderates,” says Zogby. In any case, it is not time to declare a victory for Biden: he is still closing the gap in the key states.

Republican presidential candidate and former US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on April 2, 2024. Photo: Reuters

For his part, political scientist Stephen Farnsworth, professor at the University of Mary Washington, points to the abortion situation in the United States. “Voters are beginning to see that Trump and the justices he put on the Supreme Court are responsible for the state-by-state chaos that is being left over abortion laws. Additionally, voters are feeling better about their economic conditions.”

Meanwhile, election analyst and associate editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia, J. Miles Coleman, believes that much of this boost in the polls for the current president is related to “the symbolic end” of the primaries. , after Nikki Haley’s withdrawal from the Republican race: “I would say that part of the best position that Biden has today is that voters are starting to become familiar with the fact that the election is going to be a repeat of 2020.”

“Anecdotally, I occasionally give political talks to audiences who don’t follow the news religiously, and up until the last month, I still had people asking questions like ‘do you think Michelle Obama could replace Biden?’ or ‘can she?’ Haley beat Trump?’. But now, Trump and Biden are the budget nominees of each party,” Coleman said.

John Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College, comments with Third the situation seven months before the elections: “The polls are almost or within the margin of error, or a little outside it. As it has always been, the presidential race is close, and it is likely to be that way until the end.”

Regarding the perception of the economy, Pitney is more skeptical: “The economy has been good lately, but in the United States party affiliation changes the way you see it. “The Republicans think it’s going badly, the Democrats think it’s going well, and if a Republican were in the White House, things would be the other way around.”

J. Miles Coleman points out in this regard that there is a certain nostalgia about the pre-pandemic economy, which would benefit Republicans. “Trump and the Republicans are beating Biden on inflation, and Trump still leads on economic issues in most polls. Part of that could be because some voters are nostalgic for what the economy was like before the pandemic and have erased the pandemic itself from their memory, or do not hold Trump accountable for the problems he brought,” he explains.

“While voters still give Biden low marks for his handling of the economy and his overall work, his public spending program has created real jobs and projects in local communities across the country. And she can travel to these communities and show that they are real,” Zogby argues, for her part.

The pollster highlights another factor: “The abortion issue has been a gift for Biden and the Democrats and they have won elections thanks to it. But I also think he has shown some energy and humor in recent weeks and this has encouraged some voters.”

Joe Biden signs an executive order on manufacturing called “Invent it here, make it here,” in Auburn, Maine, on July 28, 2023. Photo: Reuters

“The economic figures are, in general, quite positive, particularly unemployment. But inflation is still higher than most Americans are used to, and that is reducing Biden’s appeal,” says Farnsworth.

Regarding the situation of former President Trump, Farnsworth points out: “The Republicans who nominated Trump took a big risk. The former president is going to spend much of the next two months in court, and who knows what kind of testimony and evidence will emerge. Even if Trump is not convicted, the case will not help his campaign. And there are still other cases that could appear during the summer.”

In that sense, Coleman believes that Trump’s absence from the media in recent months could have favored him in the polls. “Part of why Trump’s numbers have been so good in recent months has to do with the fact that he hasn’t dominated the news as much as he did when he was president. In other words, he had not been constantly reminding moderates and independents of the things that made him unpleasant,” indicates the political scientist.

“This may change, however. As more people start to educate themselves about the election, the race is starting to look like something between two candidates again, and less like a referendum on Biden,” Coleman predicts.

Zogby, for his part, warns of a different attitude among the voters of each candidate: “Despite impressive progress in job creation, lower unemployment and salaries that exceed inflation, the rate of the latter increased again last month. High prices are etched into the psyche of voters and the man at the top appears to be to blame. Trump supporters firmly believe the nation was better off under Trump. “Biden supporters are not as enthusiastic about his feelings toward the president.”

Donald Trump speaks to the press with his lawyer Todd Blanche after his trial in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York, on April 19, 2024. Photo: Reuters

This week, President Joe Biden took a three-day tour of Pennsylvania, starting in his hometown of Scranton. There he sought to detail the differences between his tax policies and those of former President Trump. “Friends,” Biden said Tuesday, “where we come from matters. When I look at the economy, I don’t see it through the eyes of Mar-a-Lago, I see it through the eyes of Scranton, and that’s not hyperbole.”

While Biden campaigns in Pennsylvania, Trump is in a New York City court, facing criminal charges for falsifying business records to cover up payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election so that she will not reveal the details of an alleged sexual encounter between the two, which occurred in 2006. Something that the Republican obviously denies.

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