Unlock the Editor’s Digest for free
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Two polls on Sunday showed Joe Biden trailing Donald Trump as concerns over the economy and splits within the Democratic party over the Israel-Hamas war drag down the US president’s 2024 re-election prospects.
A New York Times/Siena poll found Biden was behind Trump in five of the six most important battleground states, fuelled by doubts about his handling of the economy, questions about his age and discontent on other issues such as the Israel-Hama conflict.
A CBS News poll also showed Trump ahead of Biden a year before the 2024 election. The poll found more voters thought they would be better off financially if Trump won in 2024, and that Biden had failed to win over Democrats in the way that Trump had convinced Republicans.
American voters tend to vote on domestic concerns such as the economy more than on foreign policy. But both polls show that Biden faces widespread discontent across a range of issues including national security.
Voters said they trusted Trump over Biden on the economy by 59 per cent to 37 per cent respectively, the widest gap on any issue, the New York Times poll found. Across the electorate Trump got better marks on the economy, regardless of gender, age, education or income level.
If the election were held now, Biden would lose to Trump by margins of three to 10 percentage points in the battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania, the New York Times poll found. Biden is ahead in Wisconsin by two percentage points. He carried all of these states in 2020.
The Israel-Hamas war in particular has splintered the Democratic party, with younger voters and people of colour breaking with the president and potentially dragging down his prospects in the 2024 contest.
The New York Times poll found that demographic groups that had backed Biden by significant margins in 2020 were now much more closely contested, with two-thirds of the electorate indicating that the country was heading in the wrong direction.
Voters under 30 preferred Biden by just a single percentage point, his lead among Hispanic voters had dropped significantly and he had less of an advantage in urban areas than Trump did in rural areas, the poll found.
Biden has come under pressure from some Democrats who want him to back an immediate end to the fighting between Israel and Hamas. Biden has said he supports Israel’s effort to destroy Hamas in Gaza after the group launched a deadly assault last month. But he has urged Israel to follow international laws of war and do more to avoid civilian casualties.
Palestinian-American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, Biden’s harshest critic, accused him of supporting the “genocide of the Palestinian people” and said “support a ceasefire now or don’t count on us in 2024”.
Asked about those comments on Sunday on ABC News, US deputy national security adviser Jon Finer said that while the administration disagreed with some of the terms used to describe the conflict, they knew it was drawing strong responses.
“We know that this is a conflict about which there are strong views on all sides,” he said.
“We believe [some of the terms] have technical definitions, have certain historical resonance and weight, and that we do not accept their application to this particular war even as we continue to raise our serious concerns about the toll that this is taking on civilian life and the need to do even more to protect it.”