Aug 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Focus groups: Some swing voters souring on Biden

Illustration of cracked rose-colored aviator sunglasses
Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Some Trump-to-Biden swing voters are showing early signs of souring on President Biden despite his big win with a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package clearing the Senate.

Why it matters: Democrats are counting on Biden's brand of governance and handling of COVID-19 and the economy to save them in next year's midterm elections.

  • Every president's honeymoon ends eventually.
  • What to watch is whether these findings amount to an asterisk or reflect a growing trend that should concern the White House.

Driving the news: Two of the 13 men and women in the latest Engagious/Schlesinger focus groups, conducted online Tuesday night, said they'd vote for Donald Trump if they could do over their 2020 election ballot.

  • Three expressed reservations about Biden's policy achievements.
  • The participants live in swing states and voted for Trump in 2016, then Biden in 2020.
  • While a focus group is not a statistically significant sample like a poll, the responses show how some voters in crucial states are thinking and talking about current events.

What they’re saying: Those who want more from Biden raised concerns about everything from security at the U.S.-Mexico border to their general perceptions about his lack of assertiveness to acknowledging they are confused by noise and disinformation.

  • "He’s not moving his policies like the way he said at the beginning,” said Shannon F. of Pennsylvania. “Trump got more done whenever he was in office.”
  • “My concern, I think, more now is trying to filter fact from rumor," said Ann B. from Arizona.

What we're watching: Most of the panel said they believe Trump’s influence is waning — even though 12 of the 13 said they still expect him to run again and 10 of the 13 voters say he's still setting the tone of the Republican Party

  • Ten of the 13 said Trump’s endorsements would not affect their own votes for candidates in next year's midterms.

The bottom line: “Former President Trump doesn’t hold much sway with the voters he won in 2016 and then lost in 2020," said Rich Thau, president of Engagious, who moderated the focus groups.

  • "Based upon what we heard this month, it’s unlikely he’ll ever win many of them back.”
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