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Biden Isn’t Dead In The Water Yet

The 2024 race for the White House between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump appears to be tightening just weeks after the two became their respective parties’ presumptive nominees, according to recent national and battleground state polling.

While Biden hasn’t led in the RealClearPolitics (RCP) national average since early September 2023, Trump’s margin has dropped to just 0.6 points. The former president is still ahead in the RCP averages for Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan and North Carolina, but recent polling indicates his leads are shrinking.

“I think we’re seeing a tightening as both candidates clinched their nominations,” Jon McHenry, GOP polling analyst and vice president at North Star Opinion Research, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Even though we’ve expected this matchup, it’s a different mindset as you have all-but-official nominees. There’s no question that voters are upset with President Biden, and think he’s done a poor job on the economy and immigration. He would lose a referendum on his leadership. What we’re seeing right now is a choice between two completely known candidates and that’s a closer call than just an up-or-down vote on Biden.”

Both Trump and Biden effectively secured their nominations after surpassing the delegate thresholds with primary contests on March 12.

A Marquette Law School survey released on Thursday found Biden leading Trump by four points among likely voters nationwide, following three other polls out this week that indicated the president was up by one to two points. An Emerson College poll also published on Thursday showed Biden ahead 51% to 49% with “very likely voters.”

The last time Trump had near as small of a lead over Biden was on Jan. 10 at 0.6 points, preceded by Nov. 13 at 0.7 points, according to the RCP average.

Celinda Lake, a longtime Democratic pollster and strategist, told the DCNF that the polling is “definitely a trend.”

“Due in large part to increased enthusiasm for Biden among Democrats and softening for Trump among Republicans,” Lake said. “Third parties have also been pulling from Trump as much as Biden lately.”

Independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is pulling in 12.3% support in a national three-way race, increasing Trump’s lead to 5.4 points, according to the RCP average. With “Justice for All Party” candidate Cornel West and Green Party candidate Jill Stein also included, the former president is ahead by 1.9 points.

Trump’s largest lead in the RCP average came on Jan. 26 at 4.3 points. The former president has already led Biden in over 130 polls this cycle — which far out-paces his records in both 2016 and 2020, according to the RCP averages.

In the RCP averages for battleground states like Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia and Pennsylvania, the races appear to be tightening.

Additionally, a Bloomberg/Morning Consult survey released on March 26 showed the races getting closer in all of the seven swing states but Georgia since the last time they were polled in mid-February. The Hill/Emerson College polls published in March on the same battleground states indicated the matchups growing in competitiveness in Nevada, Michigan and Georgia.

Scott Jennings, Republican strategist and veteran of numerous campaigns, argued that while “there’s been some small, marginal movement towards Biden,” he believes the former president “fundamentally” has an edge over Biden.

“But I also think that if you ever thought this race was going to be anything but close, you’re sorely mistaken. Whether you like Biden or you like Trump, you’re in for a close race here,” Jennings told the DCNF. “And so my expectation is that you’re going to see some ebbs and flows in the polling. Maybe one day, Trump has a poll to crow about, maybe another day Biden does.”

Kyle Kondik, nonpartisan polling analyst and managing editor for Sabato’s Crystal Ball, echoed Jennings’ sentiment on the competitiveness of the race.

“There are going to be gyrations in the polls over time — while it isn’t exactly profound to say, I think our default position should just be that this is setting up to be a close and competitive election, the way that five of the last six have been,” Kondik told the DNCF.

Neither Trump nor Biden’s campaigns responded to the DCNF’s requests for comment.

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