Slate of Polls Show Trump Opening Firm Lead over Biden as General Election Begins

Estimated read time 9 min read

Former President Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee in 2024, has opened a consistent and firm lead over incumbent Democrat President Joe Biden to begin the general election season.

Several establishment media polls, from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal to CBS News and Fox News, show Trump ahead of Biden as more than a dozen states are set to join the more than half dozen that have already voted this coming Tuesday.

Trump can knock out his last remaining GOP primary field opponent, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, with a strong Super Tuesday performance. Haley herself has even framed Super Tuesday as her last stand, and if Trump sweeps the states voting this week—a strong possibility given the fact he has swept every state so far and the polling in these upcoming states suggests an even more dominant performance from him looms—she may just call it before Biden delivers his State of the Union address on Thursday evening in Congress. This means the nation is about to enter, formally, the general election in 2024 where Trump and Biden are set for the biggest rematch in U.S. political history, and Trump aims to pull off the biggest political comeback in the history of mankind.

These latest surveys bode very well for the former president’s chances of succeeding: He leads in every single one of them, and when drilling down into cross tabs and issue questions Biden performs even worse among key demographics he would need to stick with him to hold the White House.

The CBS News/YouGov poll released on Sunday contains very dark warnings for Biden and great news for Trump. First off, the former president leads the current president 52 percent to 48 percent in a head-to-head matchup. That Trump is in majority support territory should be very troublesome for Biden—that means Trump has a majority of the country with him according to this survey. That lead is also the biggest lead CBS has ever recorded in its history of polling Trump versus Biden—a terrible fact for the current president. But drilling down even deeper into the numbers, one finds some more boons for Trump and pitfalls for Biden. Among independents, the CBS News poll found Trump at 57 percent and Biden at 42 percent—a 15-point lead for Trump among the decisive bloc that could swing November’s contest.

But that’s not all. Far more voters, 46 percent, rated Trump’s presidency as either excellent or good than did for Biden, who only got 33 percent here. And less voters, 53 percent, rated Trump’s presidency at fair or poor than did for Biden who got 67 percent. What these questions indicate is when it comes to a binary choice between the two of them, those very same independents and swing voters may decide to throw it back to Trump after handing it to Biden four years ago.

Then, when it comes to how each would handle inflation things get even worse for Biden if that’s possible. A solid majority of those surveyed by CBS News and YouGov, 55 percent, said Biden’s policies will make prices go up. Only 17 percent said Biden policies will make prices go down, and 27 percent said his policies will have no impact. Conversely, with Trump, more voters—44 percent—said his policies will make prices go down while less, 34 percent, said his policies make prices go up and 22 percent said Trump’s policies would have no effect on prices.

When it comes to immigration and the border, the CBS poll is even worse for Biden. A majority, 50 percent, say Biden’s policies increase the number of migrants into the country and only 22 percent say his policies decrease the number while 28 percent say Biden policies have no effect. Conversely for Trump, a supermajority of 72 percent say Trump’s policies decrease the number of migrants entering the country and just 9 percent say Trump’s policies increase the number while 19 percent say his policies have no effect.

The CBS poll shows other problems for Biden and boons for Trump, too, like on the questions of who is physically or mentally fit to be president, on abortion and in-vitro fertilization, and on the question of who can protect democracy best.

The CBS poll surveyed 2,159 adults from Feb. 28 to March 1, and has a margin of error of 2.8 percent.

In addition to the CBS poll on Sunday, Trump is also leading in the Fox News poll also released on Sunday. That poll, which surveyed 1,262 registered voters from Feb. 25 to Feb. 28 and has a margin of error of 2.5 percent, shows Trump in front 49 percent to Biden’s 47 percent in a head-to-head matchup. When third-party candidates are included, Trump actually expands his lead over Biden to 3 percent with Trump at 41, Biden at 38, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at 13, Cornel West at 3, and Jill Stein at 2 percent.

The Fox News poll finds Trump cutting significantly into traditionally Democrat demographics, particularly minority and young voters.

“Trump’s advantage comes from record or near-record support among key Democratic groups, while maintaining strong support among his own constituencies,” Fox News’ Victoria Balara wrote in a piece revealing the poll results. “For instance, 28% of Black voters support Trump in the head-to-head against Biden, 7 times as many as supported him four years ago (4% in February 2020).  In addition, Trump has significant support among voters under age 30 (51%) and Democrats (8%), with near-record support among Hispanics (48%) and suburban women (43%).”

The Fox News poll also found some very alarming numbers for Biden when it comes to the border and immigration.

“Almost 8 in 10 voters say the situation at the southern border is either a major problem (37%) or an emergency (41%) and that Congress deserves a great deal (52%) or some (29%) of the blame for no action,” Balara wrote. “Fewer, though still 7 in 10, say the Biden administration’s lack of enforcement is the cause for the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border (47% a great deal, 25% some).”

A Wall Street Journal poll conducting by Fabrizio Lee also released on Sunday found similarly great numbers for Trump and troubling numbers for Biden. First off, the top line of the Wall Street Journal survey found Trump leading Biden in the head-to-head matchup 47 percent to 45 percent. It also found Trump leading in a multi-candidate field, with 40 percent to Biden’s 35 percent, while Kennedy gets 9 percent, West gets 2 percent, Stein gets 1 percent, and Libertarian candidate Lars Mapstead gets 1 percent.

But perhaps more interesting in this Wall Street Journal polling than the top-line numbers are some of the issue questions. In fact, immigration and the border is now the number one issue by far—supplanting the economy. Back in the December 2023 poll from the Wall Street Journal, the economy was the number one issue with 21 percent of respondents then saying it was the most important to them and only 13 percent said immigration was. No other issue hit double digits in December. Now, that’s completely reversed: Immigration in February 2024 is the number one issue 20 percent saying that, and the economy has dropped to the number two issue at 14 percent. Again, no other issue rises into double digits.

What’s more, on those number one and two issues—the economy and immigration—Biden gets terrible reviews from Americans. The Wall Street Journal poll found strong majorities disapproved either strongly or somewhat of how Biden is handling the economy (58%), how he is handling inflation and rising costs (60%), how Biden is handling immigration (66%), and how Biden is handling border security (65%). Majorities have also turned against Biden on major foreign policy questions, with 50 percent either somewhat or strongly disapproving of how he is handling the war in Ukraine and 60 percent somewhat or strongly disapproving of how he is handling Israel’s war with Hamas.

The Wall Street Journal poll surveyed 1,745 registered voters from Feb. 21 to Feb. 28 and has a margin of error of 2.5 percent.

All of these surveys released on Sunday of course come in the wake of a poll from the New York Times, released Saturday, that showed Trump leading Biden by 5 points, 48 percent to 43 percent. Like the Fox News poll, the Times survey showed Trump cutting into traditionally Democrat constituencies.

The Times survey showed Trump and Biden tied with women voters, and Trump leading Biden among Hispanic voters. What’s more, among working class voters of color, Trump is cutting deep into Biden’s edge there.

What all of these numbers make clear is that as the nation turns to the general presidential election fairly early this year — Super Tuesday this week and Biden’s State of the Union address on Thursday mark the opening of the contest in early March far earlier than previous cycles like 2020 or 2016 where the campaign didn’t turn until later in the spring — Trump has a clear lead over Biden and this is Trump’s election to lose. That’s a fairly remarkable turn of events for the former president, who continues to battle off legal fights from a variety of fronts, and a dark turn for the current president who continues to slide into concerning territory.

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