Former President Donald Trump is enjoying unprecedented polling success compared to his 2016 and 2020 White House bids despite battling four criminal indictments, spelling bad news for President Joe Biden’s reelection chances in 2024.
Trump has already led the president in 91 national polls for a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, dwarfing his previous records against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, which he won with 306 Electoral College votes, and Biden in 2020, according to polling data compiled by RealClearPolitics. Additionally, the former president is already faring better in crucial battleground states ahead of 2024 than he did in previous cycles when Trump outperformed the projections both elections, despite his 2020 loss.
This unprecedented polling success, coupled with the fact that Trump has often fared better than his polling average in certain states during previous cycles, bodes well for his chances to win a second term in 2024.
“The research indicates that he should be stronger in 2024 than in the past,” Dr. Charles Bullock, elections expert and political science professor at the University of Georgia, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “In the past, he has run ahead of his polls. So if here in the polls, he’s a few points ahead as opposed to a few points behind, that’s why I think he would be in an even better position.”
Trump was up against Clinton in a total 29 polls in the 2016 election, during which he briefly led in the RCP averageduring two separate periods, never surpassing a 1.1 point-margin. In 2020, Trump only led Biden in 5 polls all cycle, and never led in the RCP average.
The former president has already reached his largest RCP average lead for a general election as a Republican candidate, achieving a 2.6 point-advantage over Biden nationally on Nov. 26.
“The contrast between Trump’s policies — on the economy, on the border, on immigration, on crime, on national security — the country’s really benefited, and that strategy has worked very, very well. And that’s where these poll numbers come from, because it’s about issues. And he’s been really good,” John McLaughlin, CEO and partner of McLaughlin & Associates, told the DCNF. “He’s a better candidate today than he was in 2016 and 2020. He knows the issues, he’s focused on them, he knows the policies, he knows what he’s got to do … he’s focused on winning this election, and he’ll be a better president once the election is over. He’s making these poll numbers happen.”
The final RCP average for 2016 showed Clinton up by 3.2 points; however, she secured the popular vote by 2.1 points. In 2020, Biden was up by over 7 points in the 2020’s last RCP average, but he only beat Trump by 4.5 points.
Trump has also already led in more polls this year than former Republican nominees Mitt Romney and John McCain did against President Barack Obama in 2012 and 2008, respectively. Romney, who ended up losing by 3.9 points, was up against former President Barack Obama in a total of 63 surveys all cycle, and McCain, who ended up losing by 7.3 points, led in 45, according to RCP.
“I think the difference is that this time he’s running against an incumbent who has had four years to build up his negatives, someone Trump can compare records against,” Ron Faucheux, president of nonpartisan polling firm President of Clarus Research Group, told the DCNF in a statement.
The former president is also already faring better in crucial battleground states this year, most of which he won in 2016 and lost in 2020.
In 2016, Trump never led in the RCP average in Wisconsin, Michigan or Pennsylvania, yet won all three battleground states. The former president was only projected ahead of Clinton in two polls in Michigan and three polls in Pennsylvania, but didn’t lead in a single poll in Wisconsin for the entire cycle.
The former president’s largest lead in the RCP average for Ohio was 3.4 points, but he ended up winning by over 8 points. Trump also over-performed in North Carolina and Florida, winning by larger margins than predicted.
This cycle, Trump is already leading Biden in both Michigan and Pennsylvania for the RCP average by 2 points and 1.5 points, respectively. The former president has already led in four polls this year in Michigan, and in ten in Pennsylvania — nearly beating his records there for both entire cycles in 2016 and 2020.
While Biden is leading by 0.7 points in Wisconsin for the RCP average, Trump has already led in three polls, beating his 2016 record and almost eclipsing that of 2020.
“Americans are getting behind President Trump and his movement because they know this country can’t survive another four years of a disastrous Biden presidency that has divided the entire nation,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung told the DCNF in a statement. “Polls show President Trump beating Crooked Joe Biden in the general election because he’s the only person who can supercharge the economy, secure our border, safeguard communities, and put an end to unnecessary wars. Americans want to return to a prosperous nation and there’s only one person who can do that — President Trump.”
Jon McHenry, a GOP polling analyst and vice president at North Star Opinion Research, doesn’t believe the polling comparisons are necessarily indicative of Trump’s popularity over Biden.
“I don’t think the polls actually say a ton about the former president, other than he is running against a historically unpopular incumbent,” McHenry told the DCNF. “President Biden is flailing badly in trying to run on his record. Our survey in Arizona for the League of American Workers showed that voters view the term ‘Bidenomics’ unfavorably by a nearly two-to-one margin, and disapprove of the President’s job on the economy by a 60 to 38 percent margin. He’s going to be left with a negative campaign, and hoping that if it is former President Trump he’s carrying several convictions.”
Biden’s November approval rating of 37% is the lowest any incumbent president has had going into their reelection year in recent history, according to Gallup. Former Democratic President Jimmy Carter comes closest at 40% from November 1979, and he went on to lose to Republican President Ronald Reagan the following year by nearly 10 points.
The RCP average for a 2024 national Republican primary, based on polls conducted between Nov. 9 and Nov. 28, indicates Trump has a 48-point lead over the field, followed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at 13.6%, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley at 9.6%, conservative businessman Vivek Ramaswamy at 4.8% and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 2.2%.
In the Democratic primary field, which Biden has kept largely to himself, the president holds 69.7% support ahead of self-help author Marianne Williamson with 9% and Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips with 3.5%, according to the RCP average for the same time period.
Biden did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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