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Trump Leads in 5 Key States, as Young and Nonwhite Voters Express Discontent With Biden

Results are among registered voters. Respondents who said they didn't know who they would vote for or who declined to say are not included.Based on New York Times/Philadelphia Inquirer/Siena College polls of registered voters in six battleground states conducted from April 28 to May 9, 2024.By Molly Cook Escobar

A new set of polls shows Donald J. Trump leading President Biden in five battleground states, where yearning for change and dissatisfaction with the economy and the war in Gaza among young, black and white voters Latinos threaten to undo the president's Democratic coalition.

Polls from the New York Times, Siena College and the Philadelphia Inquirer found Mr. Trump leading among registered voters in direct competition with Mr. Biden in five of six key states: Michigan, Arizona, Nevada and Georgia. And Pennsylvania. Biden led among registered voters in just one state, Wisconsin.

[You can find the full survey results, including the specific questions asked, here. You can find answers to frequently asked questions about our voting process here.]

The race was tighter among likely voters. Trump also led in five states, but Biden led in Michigan, while trailing narrowly in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. While Biden won these six states in 2020, victories in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin would be enough for him to win re-election, provided he wins everywhere he won four years ago.

The results were similar in a hypothetical contest including minor party candidates and independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who won an average of 10% of the vote in all six states and received nearly equal votes from both candidates from the main parties. .

The results remained virtually unchanged since the last round of polls conducted by the Times and Siena in hotly contested states in November. Since then, the stock market has risen 25%, Mr. Trump's criminal trial has begun in Manhattan and the Biden campaign has unleashed tens of millions of dollars on advertising in battleground states.

Polls give little indication that these developments have helped Mr. Biden, hurt Mr. Trump or assuaged voter discontent. On the contrary, polls show that the cost of living, immigration, the Israeli war in Gaza and the desire for change remain obstacles to the president's position. Although Biden enjoyed a wave of momentum after his State of the Union address in March, he still lags behind in national and state polling averages.

The results reveal widespread dissatisfaction with the state of the country and serious doubts about Mr. Biden's ability to make meaningful improvements in American life. The majority of voters still want to return to the normal life Biden promised during the last campaign, but voters in contested states are still particularly anxious, unstable and yearning for change. Nearly 70% of voters believe that the country's political and economic systems require major changes, or even complete dismantling.

Only a small portion of Mr. Biden's supporters — just 13% — believe the president will make major changes in his second term, while many of those who hate Mr. Trump grudgingly acknowledge that he will alter the status quo unsatisfactory.

The sense that Mr. Biden will do little to improve the nation's situation has helped erode his standing among young black and Latino voters, who are typically the basis of any Democratic path to the presidency. Times/Siena polls find that all three groups want fundamental changes in American society, not just a return to normal, and few think Mr. Biden will make even minor changes that would be good for the country.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden are tied primarily among 18- to 29-year-old and Hispanic voters, although each group gave Mr. Biden more than 60% of their votes in 2020. Mr. Trump also won by more than 20 votes. . percent of black voters — a figure that would constitute the highest level of black support for a Republican presidential candidate since the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Polls suggest that Trump's strength among young, non-white voters has shaken up the electoral map, at least temporarily, with Trump leading significantly in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada, relatively diverse Sun Belt states, where black and Hispanic voters pushed for Trump. Biden will sign victories in the 2020 elections.

However, Mr. Biden remains within reach. He has retained most of his support among older white voters, who are much less likely to demand fundamental changes to the system and more likely to say democracy is the most important issue to their votes. As a result, Biden has become more competitive in the three relatively white Northern swing states: Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

However, the economy and cost of living remain the most important issues for a quarter of voters - and a major drag on Mr Biden's prospects. More than half of voters still rate the economy as "weak," down just 1 percentage point since November, despite slowing inflation, an end to interest rate hikes and strong gains in stock markets.

Nearly 40% of Mr. Trump's supporters said the economy or cost of living was the most important issue in the election, including Jennifer Wright, a registered nurse in Sterling Heights, Michigan, who supported Mr. Trump in 2016 and 2020. For her, the election comes down to one question: “Who is the best candidate to help me stay financially strong until I retire? »

"Even I, as a registered nurse, buy Kroger brand or store brand. I don't buy Jif. We've all had to cut back on our spending," she said.

The Biden administration's insistence that the economy is doing well has failed to convince many voters, including Jacob Sprague, 32, who works as a systems engineer in Reno, Nevada. He says he voted for Biden in 2020, but won't. this time.

“It disturbs me to see the press come out of the White House and continue to say the economy is good,” Mr. Sprague said. "It's really weird because I pay more taxes, more groceries, more housing and more gas. So it doesn't make me feel good."

With the election less than six months away, there is still time for an improving economy to raise Mr. Biden's profile. Historically, polls at this early stage have not necessarily been indicative of the outcome, and Trump's lead among younger mainstream Democrats and black and Hispanic voters may be unfounded. Its strength is concentrated among irregular and isolated voters who pay little attention to politics and who may not yet be ready for the race. They might be inclined to change their minds at the start of the race.

In a result that would frustrate Democrats even as it represents an opportunity for Mr. Biden, nearly 20% of voters blame him more than Trump for the Supreme Court's 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. This may be the type of voters the Biden campaign hopes to win over as the campaign heats up.

Polls have shown that abortion emerges as one of Mr. Trump's biggest weaknesses. On average, 64% of voters in warm-weather states said abortion should always or mostly be legal, including 44% of Trump supporters.

In recent weeks, the Biden campaign has sought to highlight Trump's support for the Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade. However, currently, voters prefer Mr. Biden over Mr. Trump for addressing the abortion issue by 11 points, or 49 to 38 percent.

Biden's biggest challenge to ultimately disengaged voters may be the disaffected and disillusioned — those who want fundamental changes in American society or who believe that the political and economic systems must be completely demolished. Not long ago, these protest voters might have been reliable Democrats, but Mr. Trump’s populist, protest version of conservatism has upended the usual political dynamics.

Seventy percent of voters think Mr. Trump will make major changes to the political or economic system or completely destroy the systems, compared to 24 percent who expect the same from Mr. Biden. While many voters express deep reservations about Mr. Trump personally, 43% of voters think he will bring good changes to the country, compared to 35% who think those changes will be bad.

Mr. Trump particularly stands out among those who believe political and economic systems should be torn down, a group that makes up about 15 percent of registered voters. Among these anti-regime voters, he leads by 32 points, and anti-regime voters are particularly likely to have left the president. In contrast, Biden retains almost all of his 2020 supporters, who believe only minor changes are needed.

Change voters do not necessarily demand a more ideologically progressive agenda. In a recent Times/Siena poll in the same states, 11% of registered voters thought Biden was not progressive or liberal enough. While many liberal or progressive voters want big changes, relatively few have broken with Mr. Biden.

Instead, Biden's losses are concentrated among moderate conservative and Democratic-leaning voters, who nonetheless believe the system needs major changes or it will be completely demolished. Mr. Trump wins just 2% of “very liberal” Biden 2020 voters who think the system needs at least major changes, compared with 16% of moderates or conservatives.

The only exception is Israel's war in Gaza, the issue on which most of Biden's challenges appear to come from his left. About 13% of voters who said they voted for Biden last time, but don't plan to do so again, said his foreign policy or the war in Gaza was the most important issue in their vote. Only 17% of these voters said they sympathized with Israel regarding the Palestinians.

Gerard Willingham, 30, is a web administrator who lives in Riverdale, Georgia. He voted for Biden in 2020, but plans to vote for a third-party candidate in November because of the president's response to the conflict in Gaza. The problem that worries him most now.

"I think it made a big difference because it made me try harder than I had in the past to vote for a third party, even though I felt like the candidates weren't going to win almost 100 percent," Mr. Willingham said. “I think it’s starting to dawn on me morally.”

Trump's Manhattan trial on charges of falsifying business records linked to secret payments to conceal an affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels was already underway when the election began in late April. However, the poll gives little indication that the trial has harmed the former president's political fortunes, at least so far. Only 29% of voters in battleground states said they were paying "a lot" of attention to Trump's legal problems, and 35% thought the trial would likely end in a conviction.

Here are the basics to know about how to conduct these surveys:

  • We spoke with 4,097 registered voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin from April 28 to May 9, 2024.
  • Our surveys are conducted over the phone, using live interviews, in English and Spanish. Nearly 95 percent of participants were contacted by mobile phone for this survey. You can see the exact questions asked and the order in which they were asked here.
  • Voters participating in the survey are selected from a list of registered voters. The list contains information on the demographic characteristics of each registered voter, which helps us ensure that we are reaching the correct number of voters from each party, race and region. For this round of polling, we made nearly 500,000 calls to approximately 410,000 voters.
  • To ensure that results reflect the total number of voters, not just those who want to participate in a poll, we give more weight to respondents from demographic groups that are underrepresented among survey respondents, such as people without University diploma. More information on the characteristics of our participants and the weighted sample is available on the Methodology page, under “Sample composition”.
  • When states are combined, the margin of sampling error among registered voters is plus or minus 1.8 percentage points. Each state poll has a margin of error ranging from plus or minus 3.6 points in Pennsylvania to plus or minus 4.6 points in Georgia. In theory, this means that the results should reflect the opinions of the general population most of the time, even if several other challenges create additional sources of error. When calculating the difference between two values - like the advance of a candidate’s in a race - the margin for error is twice as large.
You can see the full results and detailed methodology here. If you would like to know more about how and why we conduct our surveys, you can view answers to frequently asked questions and submit your own questions here.

The New York Times/Philadelphia Inquirer/Siena College Pennsylvania poll was funded by a grant from the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. The survey was designed and conducted independently of the Institute.


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