In politics, twelve months equals a century. This platitude fits the current US political landscape like a glove: a lot can change in the next year, until November 5, 2024, the day of the US presidential election. But if the election were to be held immediately, Republican former President Donald Trump would easily prevail, despite the fact that he is being prosecuted on serious charges, including endangering the security of the United States. According to the latest polls, Trump would beat Democratic President Joe Biden, who is running for re-election, by a margin.
He leads in five crucial States
In the “NYT”/Siena poll of last Sunday, November 5, Trump leads in five “swing states”, that is, states that are considered critical because voters do not have a fixed party preference and therefore can determine the final result: in Arizona, in Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania average between 44% and 48%. Voters’ distrust of Biden centers on his age (he will be 82 in 2024), economic policy and his handling of the Hamas-Israel war.
Corresponding are the findings in the November 3 CBS poll, in which Trump leads Biden as 59% of voters consider him better able to handle the economy, compared to 37% who prefer Biden. Traditional Democratic voters, such as Hispanics, blacks and younger Americans, are also drifting away from the Democratic Party.
What is the reason for Trump’s appeal
The polls were expected to upset the Democrats, who are called to readjust their pre-election strategy and make it effective. In this context they should primarily identify where Trump’s appeal is due. A difficult question, with many possible answers.
First, many Republicans strongly believe that Trump’s prosecutions are politically motivated, so they support him in the face of the injustice of “the system.” Trump relies on millions of voters who like his hardline populist style and have no problem with his threats to imprison Americans who disagree with his ideas when elected. In other words, they believe that although Trump is “being wronged by the system”, they also believe that the Trump system is fair by definition.
A second explanation is that although inflation in the US is contained, the prices of basic goods and fuel remain at higher levels than voters are used to. A third explanation, advanced by many Democrats, is that the media preoccupies public opinion by constantly focusing on bad news.
The conservative American media in particular insists on the issue of inflation.
A fourth equally important interpretation is that voters, when asked in opinion polls about the state of the economy, tend to make statements rather than answer what they really believe about the government’s economic policy. But all of them forget that they live in an economy that is growing more than any other developed country since the beginning of the pandemic and from there (4.9% growth rate of the American economy in the third quarter of 2023, according to official data) and despite everything these are still angry and whining.
Biden is charged with pessimism
Biden charges pessimism, which is an emotion. And you can’t mess with voters’ feelings. Even if you present arguments, you will not succeed in convincing them that the country is moving in the right direction. In addition, the gloomy international situation does not reassure Americans: the war in Ukraine and, for the past month, the Hamas-Israel war, two wars in which the US has a significant role, do not work in favor of the climate of optimism.
In bleak pre-election times, many voters begin to call for change, to want a new face, someone to shake things up. In the US this trend usually favors the party in opposition. In 2008, the Democrat Obama was elected president after the difficult eight years of Bush. The Republican Party is banking on this trend: that Trump, while not a new face, will shake things up despite his serious handicaps.
He is “positioned” as the candidate for change
In 2020, Biden was pitted against Trump as the candidate who would bring order to the chaos left by the outgoing president. Today Trump is “marketed” as the candidate of change. At his rallies he tells his supporters that he will take revenge on their behalf. Such incendiary statements justifiably cause concern among Americans who do not intend to vote for him (and not only that: no sane Western leader would want to face Trump).