Biden's poll numbers continue to spiral downward.


Andrew Harnik/AP

  President Joe Biden's poll numbers are on a continual decline. The month of November commenced with New York Times/Siena College polls indicating Trump's lead in four of the six swing states, setting the tone for Biden's electoral challenges. Notably, Biden's position in head-to-head matchups against Trump is diminishing, with 13 recent surveys from various pollsters revealing a deterioration in Biden's standing in all but two of them compared to their previous polls.

While the polls suggest that most of the shift originates from voters withdrawing their support for Biden, with some becoming undecided rather than switching allegiance to Trump, the Republican candidate is concurrently gaining momentum. Trump's share of the vote in the national polling average is currently higher than at any point in the past year.

The state-level data further accentuates this trend. Alongside the New York Times/Siena polls, recent surveys conducted within the last week and a half indicate Trump's lead by 8 points in Arizona and a 5-point advantage in Michigan.

Biden's recent decline, and the political challenge he faces almost a year before Election Day, can be attributed to a convergence of factors. These include a slip in support from reliable Democratic constituencies like young voters, the unfolding conflict in the Middle East, and the emergence of independent and third-party candidates who could potentially draw votes away from both Biden and Trump.

The support of young voters for Biden is diminishing, but the exact magnitude of this decline remains uncertain.

In the recent NBC News poll, Trump's lead over Biden among voters younger than 35 was a surprising 46 percent to 42 percent. Although falling within the high margin of error for such a small subgroup, other polls also indicate a closely contested race within this traditionally reliable Democratic constituency. Polls this month from Morning Consult (Biden +2), Fox News (Biden +7), and Quinnipiac University (Biden +9) show Biden with only single-digit leads among voters aged 18-34. It's noteworthy that in all four polls, Trump led Biden among all voters.

While a few polls show Biden with a lead among young voters approaching his 2020 margins, they are exceptions rather than the norm.

This has sparked a debate on whether Trump is genuinely gaining significant ground with younger voters, as suggested by the polls, or if these numbers reflect some form of polling bias. One prevalent theory speculates that liberal younger voters, disenchanted with Biden and his party, especially over his administration's stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict, might be refraining from participating in polls at the moment, even if they intend to vote for him next November.

It's essential to note that Biden, as the oldest president in history, has historically struggled to garner strong support from younger voters. Additionally, telephone polls, with the exception of Morning Consult, which were conducted over the phone, pose challenges in reaching and accurately representing the sentiments of younger voters.

Biden's approval ratings are on a downward trajectory, juxtaposed with a notable increase in Trump's vote share.

Biden's diminishing leads against Trump are not the only concern; there are two other underlying trends in these polls that pose challenges for the incumbent.

Firstly, Biden's approval rating, already historically low for a president at this juncture in his first term, is experiencing a decline. According to FiveThirtyEight's average earlier this month, Biden's approval rating dropped to 38 percent, the lowest since July 2022. RealClearPolitics' average for the same period, with Biden at 40 percent, marked his lowest reading since August 2022.

In contrast, Trump's numbers are on the rise. Over the past year, RealClearPolitics' average has consistently placed Trump between 42 percent and 46 percent in a head-to-head matchup with Biden. Breaking the 46 percent barrier earlier this month, Trump has now surpassed 47 percent, aligning closely with his vote share in the 2020 election.

Notably, many polls indicating Trump with a majority of the vote exclude undecided voters, a methodological decision raising questions, especially this far from Election Day and in a hypothetical race featuring two candidates generally disliked by the electorate. However, even among polls that do account for undecided voters, there is a discernible upward trend for Trump. For instance, in the Fox News survey, Trump is shown inching ahead of Biden with a slight lead at 50 percent to 46 percent.

The decline in Biden's poll numbers extends beyond the Middle East; he has been slipping for months.

Attempting to attribute any shift in a president's poll numbers solely to recent events, like Israel's conflict with Hamas, is a common approach. However, for Biden, the reality is more intricate.

FiveThirtyEight's average reveals a consistent decline in Biden's approval rating since May, while RealClearPolitics' data traces back to April.

Conversely, Trump's average favorable rating has exhibited a steady increase over the last two months, escalating from 39 percent on September 1 to 42 percent as of Wednesday afternoon, according to FiveThirtyEight.

The influence of third-party candidates remains uncertain.

A noteworthy aspect of the challenging poll numbers for Biden is that they emerge from head-to-head matchups with Trump, excluding the potential impact of third-party candidates who might attract more votes away from the president.

Many pollsters currently omit matchups involving independent figures like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornel West, or Green Party candidate Jill Stein, making it challenging to gauge their influence at this moment. RealClearPolitics' averages indicate a slightly smaller lead for Trump over Biden when Kennedy is added, but a slightly larger lead when West and Stein are included. These conflicting signals make it premature to precisely predict how independent and third-party candidates will alter the electoral dynamics for Biden and Trump.

However, it's evident that Biden's deficit is not a consequence of third-party candidates running, or those potentially entering the race, such as retiring Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). These candidates could pose challenges for Biden's recovery, particularly if they attract substantial support from demographics like young voters.