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When Americans head to the ballot box in a year’s time, all focus will be on a small group of states that hold an almost mythical power to decide the overall result.
While most states stick with their long-held party affiliation, the movement of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and Nevada could make or break Joe Biden’s re-election bid.
For all the focus on Iowa, New Hampshire and other early primary states now, these swing states are the ones that will become the key battlegrounds when the nominees’ campaigns get truly underway next year.
So far, the polling makes for difficult reading in Mr Biden’s camp. Research for The Telegraph conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies last month found that voters in four of the states preferred Donald Trump in a head-to-head race.
In two, Georgia and Arizona, Mr Biden appears to have lost the support of historically Republican states that he won over in 2020, in the latest suggestion that voters who took a chance on him are now reverting to type.
Mr Biden’s campaign is already heavily focused on blue-collar workers in states at the heart of America’s historical industrial base, which he is attempting to revive with his “Bidenomics” programme.
But the polling shows he is ahead by just a single point in one of those states, Pennsylvania, and is neck-and-neck with Mr Trump in another, Michigan.
The swing away from Mr Trump in 2020 was widely interpreted as a rejection of his chaotic governing style and populist policy agenda, plus concerns about his truthfulness and a feeling that US democracy itself had suffered under his leadership.
That analysis was only strengthened by the events of Jan 6, 2021, when Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building, taking inspiration from his refusal to accept the election result. Those events are now the subject of multiple criminal lawsuits.
Mr Biden’s antidote was to launch a mass spending programme based on the idea of “fighting back” – both against “Make America Great Again” Republicanism and the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the latest numbers suggest that this message is failing to resonate with swing voters, and may also be turning off the core Democrat demographics of ethnic minorities and young liberals.
In swing states, the numbers reflect national concerns about inflation – which stands at 3.7 per cent – and Mr Biden’s age.
Our poll showed a majority of voters in six swing states, including Pennsylvania where he leads Mr Trump, say that the 80-year-old is too old to seek a second term. They also have separate qualms about Kamala Harris, who would replace him if he was forced to stand down.
Despite more than 90 criminal charges against Mr Trump, many of his supporters who voted Republican for the first time in 2020 have stuck by him. On Mr Biden’s side of the ledger, it is hard to find a group of disenfranchised voters he has managed to energise in the last three years.
With a year to go until polling day, it would be foolish to make concrete predictions about who will win. What is for sure is that the Biden campaign is not finding voters as receptive as they hoped, and that the Trump brand has endured – against all odds.