The threat of a Trump victory in 2024 is ‘very real’

WASHINGTON — The idea sits somewhere between conventional wisdom and an article of faith for Democrats: Joe Biden beat Donald Trump once, so he could do it again.

For Trump’s main Republican challengers, notably Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, this concept is a necessary predicate to convince GOP voters to switch horses after nominating Trump twice.

But a new NBC News poll released on Sunday showed Biden with a relatively narrow 49% to 45% lead over Trump – which falls within the survey’s margin of error and well below the 10-point advantage. percentage Biden held in NBC’s last poll before the 2020 election. The new survey shows DeSantis, who is lesser known than Trump, tied with Biden at 47% each.

Despite an air of confidence from Biden and his team, some Democrats say they think Trump has a very serious chance of winning back the Oval Office.

“If you think otherwise, you literally have your head buried in the sand,” said former Rep. Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat, who failed to win over pro-Trump voters to his side during of a 2022 Senate race against JD Vance. “You live in a world of illusions. And it is dangerous.

Mandela Barnes, who lost by 25,000 votes to Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican of Wisconsin, in 2022 and has since launched a super PAC, said he would like to see Democrats in battleground states “step up to the plate.” ‘offensive’ more and touting Biden’s accomplishments.

“The president has done a lot to help working people, and the threat of a Donald Trump presidency is very real,” he said, adding, “Wisconsin was the one that put Trump on top in 2016. … We take the threat very seriously.”

Most Democrats who spoke to NBC News said they thought Trump was an easier draw for Biden than some of the other Republican challengers — if only because Trump is a known quantity.

Faiz Shakir, who led Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, said the familiarity factor means it’s easier for Biden to remind voters of the reasons they rejected Trump three years ago than to build a new argument against DeSantis or another lesser-known candidate.

But, he said, Trump’s political agility should not be overlooked.

Shakir specifically pointed to Trump’s maneuvering on abortion rights after the disappointing GOP results in the 2022 midterm elections. Trump once said women should be punished for having abortions and named three of the judges of the Supreme Court who voted to strike down federal abortion protections. But now Trump says Republicans should make sure abortion bans include exemptions for rape, incest or a threat to the life of the pregnant person.

“Trump is so amoral that he’s able to reinvent himself on issue after issue and fool enough people to feel like they might give him a second look, at least in some critical battlefield states,” he said. he declared. “A lot of it depends on, are there any outside events that kind of prevent him from doing the reimagining?”

These outside events include upcoming trials in New York and Florida, an investigation in Georgia into its efforts to nullify the 2020 election there, and a federal special counsel investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill.

At the same time, Trump’s trials and tribulations appear to have cemented his position as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination. The NBC News poll shows his lead over DeSantis has shrunk from 15 points to 29 points since April. Trump’s support is now at 51%, down from 46% then, while DeSantis’ support among Republicans has fallen from 31% to 22%. Former Vice President Mike Pence leads the rest of the crowded field with 7% in the latest poll.

Because battles for the nomination unfold state by state over months, these national polls don’t take into account how one candidate’s performance in early contests may affect the rest.

“To the extent that we’re not doing state polls yet, that’s a big blind spot,” said Patrick Ruffini, Republican polling expert and founding partner of Echelon Insights. He pointed to tight battleground finishes in 2020 — Biden’s Electoral College margin stood at less than 43,000 votes spread across Georgia, Wisconsin and Arizona — to demonstrate that slight shifts in public opinion could have an amplified effect in November 2024.

“It wouldn’t take much to move him to those key states,” Ruffini said.

Biden’s approval rating, which fell to 35% in a Pew Research survey released last week, has been in the same territory as Trump’s ahead of the 2020 election. Coupled with a series of polls head-to-heads that show Biden and Trump within the margin of error have given some Democratic strategists reason to believe that Trump remains a very viable challenger for Biden.

“What you have are statistical ties in almost every recent poll,” said Chris Kofinis, a Democratic strategist and public opinion expert. “Are the Democrats ignoring the threat that Trump poses even with his string of indictments? Absolutely.”

Most political pundits think the 2024 election is likely to be close when it comes to the all-important Electoral College and the number of swing voters will be low.

Even in losing, Trump won far more votes than any Republican ever had in battlegrounds such as Arizona, Wisconsin, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Michigan.

It’s unclear how, if at all, third-party nominations will affect the Electoral College. Biden has been helped in 2020 by a drop in third-party voting in swing states. Author and professor Cornell West has announced a candidacy for president, and a group called No Labels is considering promoting a candidate under its own flag.

One question, then, is whether the electorate looks more like 2016, when Trump narrowly won, or 2020, when he lost by an even narrower margin of votes in pivotal states.

“What we have to learn from 2016 is that some people want to hear his message and believe his message,” said Raquel Teran, the former Democratic Party chairwoman from Arizona who is now seeking a House seat.

Teran expressed optimism stemming from voters’ heightened familiarity with Trump.

“More of us know his message is extreme, disconnected and authoritarian, and we cannot underestimate what can happen under a Trump candidacy,” she said. “And the worst part is that you can’t forget what the real consequence is [is] to have a Trump presidency.

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