Jun 9, 2024 - Politics & Policy

2024 polls: Biden gains a hair after Trump conviction

Illustration of an elephant foot crumbling and breaking as it steps on an upright Biden campaign pin.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

After months of brutal 2024 polls, President Biden has some cause for optimism.

Why it matters: Multiple polls in swing states had shown former President Trump heading for a clean sweep. But there's early evidence the race tightened after Trump's 34 convictions in his hush-money trial.

By the numbers: Five national polls conducted after the former president's conviction showed the race either unchanged or moving slightly in Biden's direction.

  • The New York Times/Siena College poll recontacted registered voters who'd taken part in surveys in April and May, and found the national race moving from Trump up 3 to Trump up 1. (The Times says that since a recontacting study isn't necessarily representative of the entire electorate, it's impossible to calculate a margin of error.)
  • Most Republicans are standing by their man. But 10% of Republicans, and 25% of independents, in a Reuters/Ipsos poll are now less likely to vote for Trump.
  • The Washington Post calls the polling consensus a "little but pretty evident shift toward Biden."
  • While some Trump allies predicted the hush money case would rally Americans to his side, at least half of U.S. adults in multiple polls thought the verdict was correct.

Reality check: It's way too early to know how Trump's legal troubles ultimately will affect the race. The most conclusive finding from the post-conviction polls: For the vast majority of voters, nothing has changed.

  • We also haven't seen fresh polling from key swing states. Before Trump was convicted, Biden was down by about 5 points in three swing states — Arizona, Georgia and Nevada — that he won in 2020, and 6 points in North Carolina, which he narrowly lost, per 538's tracker.
  • He was also getting pummeled by roughly 10 points in Ohio and Florida — states that in the past were in the swing column.
  • In previous cycles, Democrats dreamed of flipping historically red states, including Texas. The polling this time around suggests Biden's path to victory is much narrower.

State of play: Biden was trailing Trump by less than 2% in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania as of the most recent polls, per 538. That's toss-up territory, particularly if those states follow the national trend and inch toward Biden after Trump's conviction.

  • Carry those three — along with the states he won easily in 2020 — and Biden would eke out exactly 270 electoral votes.
  • We're a long way from Election Day. Early polls suggest it's possible Trump will be more competitive in politically divided purple states of Minnesota and Virginia, where he lost last time around.
  • But with the current outlook, a narrow Biden win looks plausible if he can hold that Midwest "Blue Wall."

Between the lines: Biden is losing badly among less-engaged voters. But winning among those who consistently vote cycle after cycle, The New York Times' Nate Cohn notes.

  • Some of the less-engaged voters moving to Trump are from demographics that typically favor Democrats — young voters and Black men.

The bottom line: Biden's position in polls is much weaker than this time four years ago. But he has a narrow, credible path to victory.

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