Biden faces calls not to seek re-election as shock poll rattles senior Democrats | US elections 2024

Senior Democrats have sounded the alarm after an opinion poll showed Joe Biden trailing the Republican frontrunner Donald Trump in five out of six battleground states exactly a year before the presidential election.

Trump leads in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania, with Biden ahead in Wisconsin, according to a survey published on Sunday by the New York Times and Siena College. Biden beat Trump in all six states in 2020 but the former president now leads by an average of 48% to 44% across these states in a hypothetical rematch.

Additional findings released on Monday, however, showed that if Trump were to be convicted of criminal charges against him, some of his support in some swing states would erode by about 6%, which could be enough to tip the electoral college in Biden’s favour.

Even so, the survey is in line with a series of recent polls that show the race too close for comfort for many Trump foes as voters express doubts about Biden’s age – the oldest US president in history turns 81 later this month – and handling of the economy, prompting renewed debate over whether he should step aside to make way for a younger nominee.

“It’s very late to change horses; a lot will happen in the next year that no one can predict & Biden’s team says his resolve to run is firm,” David Axelrod, a former strategist for President Barack Obama, wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “He’s defied CW [conventional wisdom] before but this will send tremors of doubt thru the party – not ‘bed-wetting,’ but legitimate concern.”

Bill Kristol, director of the Defending Democracy Together advocacy organisation and a former Republican official, tweeted: “It’s time. President Biden has served our country well. I’m confident he’ll do so for the next year. But it’s time for an act of personal sacrifice and public spirit. It’s time to pass the torch to the next generation. It’s time for Biden to announce he won’t run in 2024.”

Andrew Yang, who lost to Biden in the 2020 Democratic primary, added: “If Joe Biden were to step aside, he would go down in history as an accomplished statesman who beat Trump and achieved a great deal. If he decides to run again it may go down as one of the great overreaches of all time that delivers us to a disastrous Trump second term.”

The New York Times and Siena poll suggests that Biden’s multiracial and multigenerational coalition, critical to his success in 2020, is decaying. Voters under age 30 favour the president by only a single percentage point, his lead among Hispanic voters is down to single digits and his advantage in urban areas is half of Trump’s edge in rural regions.

Black voters – a core Biden demographic – are now registering 22% support in these states for Trump, a level that the New York Times reported was unseen in presidential politics for a Republican in modern times. The president’s staunch support for Israel in the current Middle East crisis has also prompted criticism from young and progressive voters.

Survey respondents in swing states say they trust Trump over Biden on the economy by a 22-point margin. Some 71% say Biden is “too old”, including 54% of his own supporters. Just 39% felt the same about Trump, who is himself 77 years old.

President Joe Biden kicks off his re-election campaign with a speech to union members in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 17 June 2023. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Electability was central to Biden’s argument for the nomination three years ago but the poll found a generic, unnamed Democrat doing much better with an eight-point lead over Trump. Congressman Dean Phillips of Minnesota has launched a long-shot campaign against Biden in the Democratic primary, contending that the president’s anaemic poll numbers are cause for a dramatic change of course.

Next year’s election could be further complicated by independent runs from the environmental lawyer Robert Kennedy Jr and the leftwing academic Cornel West.

Trump is dominating the Republican presidential primary and plans to skip Wednesday’s third debate in Miami, Florida, in favour of holding a campaign rally. He spent Monday taking the witness stand in a New York civil fraud trial. He is also facing 91 criminal indictments in four jurisdictions.

The Biden campaign played down the concerns, drawing a comparison with Democratic incumbent Obama’s 2012 victory over Republican Mitt Romney. Biden’s spokesperson, Kevin Munoz, said in a statement: “Predictions more than a year out tend to look a little different a year later. Don’t take our word for it: Gallup predicted an eight-point loss for President Obama only for him to win handedly a year later.”

Munoz added that Biden’s campaign “is hard at work reaching and mobilizing our diverse, winning coalition of voters one year out on the choice between our winning, popular agenda and Maga [Make America great again] Republicans’ unpopular extremism. We’ll win in 2024 by putting our heads down and doing the work, not by fretting about a poll.”

The margin of sampling error for each state in the Sunday poll is between 4.4 and 4.8 percentage points, which is greater than Trump’s reported advantage in Pennsylvania.

Charlie Sykes, host of the Bulwark podcast and a former conservative radio host, wrote on X: “Ultimately, 2024 is not about re-electing Joe Biden. It is about the urgent necessity of stopping the return of Donald J Trump to the presidency. The question is how.” Biden faces calls not to seek re-election as shock poll rattles senior Democrats | US elections 2024

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