Biden’s Gains Against Trump Vanish on Deep Economic Pessimism, Poll Shows

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(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden’s recent polling bump in key battleground states has mostly evaporated as a deep current of pessimism about the trajectory of the US economy hurts his standing with voters.

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The April Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll found Biden is ahead in just one of the seven states most likely to determine the outcome of his matchup with Donald Trump, leading Michigan by 2 percentage points. Biden trails the presumptive GOP nominee slightly in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and his deficit in Georgia, Arizona, Nevada and North Carolina is larger.

Those results are largely a return to the previous state of the presidential race, before a strong State of the Union address appeared to power Biden in March to his best showing in the monthly poll since it began in October.

The reversion comes as poll respondents offered a bleak near-term view of the economy, the issue that has consistently registered as their top concern at the ballot box. A majority of swing-state voters see worsening economic conditions in the coming months, with fewer than one in five saying they expect inflation and borrowing costs to be lower by the end of the year. Despite a resilient job market, only 23% of respondents said the employment rate would improve over the same time period.

For undecided voters — a group crucial to Biden’s effort to close the gap with Trump — the share who expect improvement on those economic factors was in the single digits.

“Some of the shine of the State of the Union address has worn off,” said Matt Monday, senior manager of Morning Consult. “People are really tying Bidenomics and their perception of the economy to the inflation rate.”

More than three quarters of poll respondents said the president is responsible for the current performance of the US economy, and nearly half said he was “very responsible.”

Read more: Ultra-Rich Should Pay to Save Social Security, Voter Poll Shows

The poll has a margin of error of 1 percentage point across the seven states and was conducted April 8-15. While it was in the field, another higher-than-expected inflation report bolstered the case for the Federal Reserve to put off interest rate cuts, suggesting voters won’t see a retreat in borrowing costs any time soon.

Biden has sought to remind voters of the nation's economic recovery since the depths of the pandemic while acknowledging there is “still more work to do.” The White House routinely touts job gains, industrial investments and that price increases have cooled from their 2022 peak.

Abortion Advantage

Meanwhile, the Biden campaign is counting on social issues, especially abortion, to help energize Democrats.

For the first time in the tracking poll, more than half of swing-state voters said abortion was very important to their vote. The shares of Democrats and independents who characterized the issue that way has increased since March, while the proportion of Republican voters saying that has held steady, a sign the issue is a growing priority for the voters more likely to align with Biden’s views on it.

On April 9, the second day of polling, an Arizona Supreme Court decision upheld a restrictive abortion law from 1864. In that state, abortion is now the most important issue for three in 10 Democratic women, surpassing the economy.

Independent voters in Arizona say they trust Biden over Trump on that issue by 12 percentage points. Among suburban women in the state, it’s a 25-point advantage.

Trump has tried to moderate his position on abortion, saying the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade — made possible by three justices he appointed — means that the decision of each state “must be the law of the land.” He then said the Arizona Supreme Court decision went too far.

In response to open-ended questions about what they had heard about Trump in the last week, hundreds of respondents cited that issue. Many said he was being evasive or flip-flopping.

Voter Disillusionment

The RealClearPolitics average of national polls shows Trump and Biden in a virtual tie in the popular vote. But across seven battleground states in the Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll, Trump has a six-point lead in a head-to-head matchup with Biden.

The margin between the major-party candidates is similar when third-party or independent contenders are included. The most threatening of those challengers, former Democrat Robert F. Kennedy Jr., has consistently polled in the high single digits, buoyed by wide name recognition owing to his famous Democratic family. Kennedy secured a place on the Michigan ballot last week under the Natural Law Party banner.

The Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll of registered voters does not take into account how likely respondents are to vote in an election still more than six months away. The 2020 election had the highest turnout of eligible voters in more than a century, but voter disillusionment over a Biden-Trump rematch — with both candidates having high negative ratings — makes participation this time uncertain.

Biden's six-point deficit across the swing states is even wider than that of Democratic congressional candidates, who trail Republicans by two points. That hints that more voters have a sour view of Biden than his party overall.

Those ticket-splitters — voters who say they’ll vote for Trump for president but a Democrat for Congress — are far more pessimistic about the economy than those who split their voters the other way, Biden for president and a Republican for Congress.


The Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll surveyed 4,969 registered voters in seven swing states: 801 registered voters in Arizona, 802 in Georgia, 708 in Michigan, 450 in Nevada, 703 in North Carolina, 803 in Pennsylvania and 702 in Wisconsin. The surveys were conducted online from April 8-15. The aggregated data across the seven swing states were weighted to approximate a target sample of swing-state registered voters based on gender, age, race/ethnicity, marital status, home ownership, 2020 presidential vote and state. State-level data were weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters in the respective state based on gender, age, race/ethnicity, marital status, home ownership, and 2020 presidential vote. The margin of error is plus or minus 1 percentage point across the seven states; 3 percentage points in Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania; 4 percentage points in Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, and 5 percentage points in Nevada.

--With assistance from Elena Mejía, Jennah Haque and Akayla Gardner.

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