Donald Trump has nudged ahead of Joe Biden in national polling for the 2024 presidential election, a survey published on Saturday revealed, a day after the US president branded his predecessor as “despicable” at an event in California.
The Wall Street Journal poll shows Biden with the lowest approval rating of his presidency, a finding broadly in line with other recent studies that have sparked concern in Democratic circles less than a year before voters go to the polls.
It shows Trump leading Biden by four points, 47% to 43%, the first time this survey has shown that the former US president is favored in a head-to-head test of the likely 2024 White House matchup, the WSJ said.
When five potential third-party and independent candidates are included, drawing a combined 17% support, Trump’s lead expands to six points, 37-31.
Although Biden has expressed his desire to run for a second term, many in the Democratic party would like to see him stand down, fearing his advancing age – 81 on election day and 86 after eight years in the White House if he wins next year – will turn off voters.
The indictment of the president’s son, Hunter Biden, in California on Thursday on nine criminal tax charges places additional obstacles in his path to re-election.
Meanwhile Trump, despite leading the race for the Republican nomination by almost 50 points, according to RealClearPolitics, is no shoo-in either, largely because of his own multiple legal woes. The candidate who will himself be 78 on polling day remains in peril from four concurrent criminal cases against him, some over his illegal efforts to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory.
At a fundraiser on Friday night, Biden laid into Trump for his actions on 6 January 2021, the day of the Capitol riot by his supporters trying to prevent Congress certifying the election result.
“It’s despicable. It’s simply despicable,” Biden told an audience including California governor Gavin Newsom and Democratic former House speaker Nancy Pelosi, referring to how Trump stood and watched the unfolding riot on television and did nothing to stop it.
He also referenced Trump’s interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity this week in which he was asked whether he would abuse his power if he were elected again. “The other day he said he would be a dictator only one day. God, only one day! He embraces political violence instead of rejecting it,” Biden said.
His speech was themed largely around the threat he said Trump posed to democracy, and avoided mention of the Israel-Gaza war. He told the audience of Democratic party supporters: “You’re the reason that Donald Trump is a former president, or, he hates when I say it, a defeated president. My guess is that he won’t show up at my next inauguration.”
While the WSJ survey will alarm many Democrats, others warn not to read too much into what some observers see as “mad poll disease”, anxiety induced by a belief that a succession of negative polls shows what will happen a year from now instead of providing an opportunity to act, or vote, to prevent it.
Similarly, the WSJ notes that while its figures show many Democrats are widely unhappy with Biden now, they might still back him on election day, especially if Trump is the Republican candidate.