Four Key Variables as Joe Biden Faces a Tough Election Fight
Author: Greg Valliere
October 24, 2023
OUR SENSE is that Biden is under-rated as a political strategist; he’s a savvy poll-reader who has a good feel for the voters’ mood. Sources report that Biden is frustrated that he gets little credit for an improving economy; the “Bidenomics” theme has been an advertising dud.
WITHIN THE WHITE HOUSE, it appears that four election themes are dominant:
Key constituents: Internal polls show a sharp drop in Biden’s support from young people and Hispanics, two key voting blocs. For younger voters, there’s a sense that Biden has not kept promises to slash oil drilling; for Hispanics, there’s a sense that Biden has poorly handled immigration issues. And there are key states that are in play again — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia, etc.
The major issues: This looks particularly difficult for the incumbent. Voters don’t think inflation has been defeated, and their anxiety persists on issues like housing and the economy. Violent crime remains a huge concern, even though statistics show it’s down slightly. The flood of illegal immigrants, averaging nearly 10,000 daily, is an enormous negative. The issue of Hunter Biden’s business dealings has faded recently, but more court dates loom.
Geopolitics: This may be the trickiest issue in 2024, as public opinion — especially among young voters — seems to be shifting toward isolationism. The idea of spending another $100 billion on Ukraine and Israel is increasingly unpopular; voters contend the money should be spent on domestic issues. Nevertheless, Biden has a political opportunity to become an effective wartime president, with decent support in Congress.
Republican flaws: This may be Biden’s life preserver. Trump faces 91 criminal charges that could drag on well past 2024, Republicans in the House look dysfunctional, and strict anti-abortion laws are unpopular. As in most elections, the key is to win centrist voters, and they’re leaning toward Biden. Each passing day without a House Speaker — or a budget — is an embarrassment for the GOP.
BOTTOM LINE: We think Trump will be the GOP nominee but winning the general election will be difficult; the mere fact that Trump could plausibly win a second term has set off alarm bells among the Democrats. For now we think odds are roughly 53-47 that Biden will win — too close for comfort for a frail president who celebrates his 81st birthday next month.
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