THE BIDEN-TRUMP MATCHUP. There is so much uncertainty surrounding the 2024 presidential race that it is not clear whether the incumbent president, Joe Biden, currently less than a year into office, will run for reelection. It is also not clear whether the former president, Donald Trump, will make a third run for the White House.
A new poll from the Wall Street Journal shows a Biden-Trump matchup, were it to happen, would be virtually even — 46% for Biden versus 45% for Trump.
But what if the race turns out not to be an 82-year-old Biden against a 78-year-old Trump? The poll tried to cut through the emotions that such a contest would create with this question:
Regardless of how you may feel personally about each man, would you rather continue pursuing Joe Biden’s policies and proposals or return to Donald Trump’s policies and proposals?
That is the key question of 2024, and, just like the Biden-Trump matchup, the result was very, very close — this time with a tiny edge for Trump. Forty-eight percent of those surveyed said they wanted to return to Trump policies, while 46% said they wanted to continue Biden’s policies.
The numbers give a glimpse at what a Biden-less and Trump-less election might look like. Whoever the Democratic candidate is will pledge to continue the work Biden began, and whoever the Republican candidate is will pledge to return to the policies associated with Trump. And if Biden himself is not in the race, the Republican candidate will portray the Democratic nominee as a continuation of failed Biden policies. If Trump is not in the race, the Democratic candidate will undoubtedly portray the Republican as Trump incarnate. So, in that sense, the 2024 election will be Biden vs. Trump, no matter who the actual candidates are.
Meanwhile, Biden himself continues to sink. His job approval rating in the new poll is just 41%, compared to 57% who disapprove. Beyond that, many voters blame his administration specifically for what they view as the most pressing economic problem, inflation. When asked what is the main cause of rising prices, 24% said supply chain problems, 17% said pent-up demand because of the pandemic, another 17% said corporations unnecessarily raising prices, and 39% said Biden administration policies.
The poll also found Republicans leading in the so-called generic ballot question, that is, if the election were held today, would the respondent vote for the Republican candidate or the Democratic candidate for the House in his or her district. Democrats have mostly led in the generic ballot for years — until recently, when a spate of polls showed Republicans pulling ahead. Indeed, in the new Wall Street Journal poll, 44% said they would choose the Republican, while 41% said they would choose the Democrat. More bad news for the party in power.
But the Biden-Trump match, whether it is an actual Biden-Trump match or a Bidenism-Trumpism match, overshadows our politics at the moment. Whatever happens in the 2022 midterm elections, America is headed for another showdown in 2024.
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