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Tipsheet

Way Too Early 2024 Poll: Guess Who's Leading Both Biden and Trump?

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Just as a public service announcement, all 2024 polls will be 'way too early' for quite some time, but they're one of the few gauges we have in these early stages of the next election cycle, even if they're only quasi-meaningful.  It's also worth noting that polling averages were relatively accurate in 2022, despite some prominent misfires.  Indeed, on a national scale, the Real Clear Politics national 'generic ballot' average came within a fraction of a percentage point of being dead-on correct.  The GOP won the national House 'popular' combined vote by approximately three points (and more than three million votes), but due to the strikingly 'inefficient' vote distribution, that only translated into a small lower chamber majority.  Somewhat relatedly, you'll be pleased to know that well over a month after election day, the state of California has finally finished counting its votes:

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The book is closed on 2022 (an automatic recount in Colorado has now confirmed GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert's extremely close re-election), and the political world's collective gaze is already looking ahead to 2024.  I've already laid out some forward-looking lessons based on the recent results.  The most important decision each party's voters will make over the coming months, starting in earnest a little over a year from now, is whom they'll nominate as their presidential standard bearers in the next national election.  On the Democratic side, I've long believed that the incumbent party will not ultimately re-nominate Joe Biden, but that may be wrong.  Reporting suggests that the Biden family is "fully" behind a re-election bid, and that the president's political operation is moving more decisively in that direction, buoyed by the party's better-than-expected midterms performance.  

Maybe the best piece of evidence that Biden is inclined to try to run again is his moves around the nominating calendar, seeking to move his 2020 savior state, South Carolina, to the front of the pack.  He was taking some steps in the 2024 direction before November's elections.  Since then, his team has only stepped up those efforts.  Nothing is official, and I'm still skeptical that Biden will be up to the challenge, but the likelihood that he'll take the plunge has certainly increased.  A New York Times piece published a month ago described Bidenworld as "emboldened" and ebullient, but also noted that Biden, now 80, isn't getting any younger.  The story also points out that Biden "likes to remind anyone who will listen that he is the only one who has beaten Mr. Trump, and he remains confident that he is the Democrat who is best equipped to do it again. Polls show that as unpopular as Mr. Biden remains, he still has more support than Mr. Trump does."  Trump is the only declared 2024 candidate from either party, announcing very shortly after a midterm cycle that was underwhelming for his party -- and especially for the Republican candidates most closely associated with him:

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Donald J. Trump’s announcement...that he would run for president in 2024 came at an especially awkward time for Republicans. They were supposed to dominate the midterm elections — but fell well short. Mr. Trump appears to be a significant reason for that showing, based on an analysis of the results by House district. His preferred candidates underperformed last week, helping Democrats hold the Senate and helping keep the race for House control close.  Overall, his preferred primary candidates underperformed other G.O.P. candidates by about five percentage points...A penalty of five points is a big number in today’s polarized era. Five of the last six presidential elections have been decided by a margin less than that...Here’s another way to think about it: Non-MAGA Republicans in 2022 ran six points better than Mr. Trump did in 2020; the MAGA Republicans barely fared better than him at all.

Since Trump's November announcement, he's been bombarded with criticism over the under-performances mentioned in the above excerpt, blasted for his Mar-a-Lago dinner with bigots, and roundly condemned for his deranged public musings about suspending or "terminating" constitutional provisions in order to be reinstated as president, or to force a re-do of the 2020 election. He followed up on those delusions by accusing others of inventing the quotes that he himself published on his own social media platform.  Even some of his most ardent supporters might be willing to admit it hasn't been the most auspicious post-announcement stretch.  And perhaps more and more Republican voters are starting to decide that they're not terribly enthusiastic about nominating this past-fixated, baggage-laden person for president again:

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Dan McLaughlin looks at the numbers:

The deeper you drill into this poll and its crosstabs, the better it looks for DeSantis and the worse not just for Trump but also for Joe Biden, whose reelection hinges so heavily on drawing Trump as an opponent. Biden leads Trump 47 percent to 40 percent, but trails DeSantis 47 percent to 43 percent. Among independent women, Biden leads DeSantis by five, but leads Trump by 23. Trump’s favorability among all voters is 30 percent, compared with 62 percent having an unfavorable view. Among all voters, 69 percent don’t want Trump to run again, and 67 percent don’t want Biden to run again. Sixty-five percent of Republicans and conservative independents want DeSantis to run, compared with less than half who want Trump running again. USA Today also notes that the poll shows significant erosion of Trump’s position compared to past showings in the same poll: "In July, 60% of Republicans wanted Trump to run again. In October, that number had dipped to 56%. Now it has fallen to 47%, an almost-even split with the 45% who don’t want him to run for a third time."

All of these caveats very much apply, but this is an intriguing poll as we await the calendar to flip to 2023 -- the year in which the primary field will develop, and competition will heat up.  Buckle up.

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