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Biden, Trump Knotted In July Poll, But Debate Disaster Could Lead To Big Changes: I&I/TIPP Poll

Trump commands the highest support intensity vs. Biden and RFK Jr.

Photo by Clay Banks / Unsplash

Following President Joe Biden's abysmal performance in the June 27 debate with former President Donald Trump, you might think he would suffer a crash in his support for re-election. Even the media describe the Democratic Party's response to Biden's poor showing as "panic." Will voters abandon Biden? They haven't yet, the latest I&I/TIPP Poll shows, but signs of trouble loom.

The national online I&I/TIPP Poll, answered by 1,244 registered voters from June 26-28, includes last Thursday's debate night. So the final day of the poll includes that information. Did it have an impact?

In a head-to-head matchup, the I&I/TIPP data show Biden holding a slender 43% to 41% lead against former President Donald Trump. The poll has a +/-2.8 percentage point margin of error, meaning that the two major party candidates remain statistically in a tie.

Once again, both major parties, Democrats (87% support Biden) and Republicans (88% support Trump) are predictably partisan in their support. But among independents, a de facto third party in American politics, it's close: 34% Trump, 33% Biden.

The difference? "Other." For Democrats, just 5% say they want someone other than Biden, while for Republicans it's even smaller, at 3%. But for independents, 19% say they want someone else.

The big question is: Whom do the independents, the swing voters that often decide elections, want?

Apart from the head-to-head matchup, I&I/TIPP also asked whom voters would prefer with the three independent or third party candidates added to the mix: Independent lawyer/activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., independent activist and former Harvard professor Cornel R. West, and Green Party standard bearer Jill Stein.

When asked this way, Biden's support falls to 40%, vs. 39% for Trump.

Among the independent/third-party candidates, Kennedy gathers 10% support, West 2%, Stein 1%, and "other" 2%, for a total of 15%.

So, at least for now, the race remains too close to call. But is it really?

I&I/TIPP asks another question to gauge whether voters support their chosen candidate "strongly or moderately."

Here, things change a bit. For Trump, 70% say they support him "strongly," while 29% support him "moderately," for a total of 99%. Just 1% said they weren't sure.

For Biden, just 57% characterize their support as "strong," while 40% call it "moderate," and 3% say they aren't sure.

As for Kennedy, by far the leading third party or independent candidate, the support isn't very strong: Just 32% of his backers say they support him strongly, while 58% say they support him moderately and 9% say they're not sure.

In sum: With a little over four months to go, Trump's support remains solid, Biden's less so, and Kennedy looks like the classic third-party candidate who attracts votes, but not enough to win. Only enough to possibly cost another candidate the election.

For further hidden elements of strength/weakness for the various candidates, I&I/TIPP also asked the following: "Regardless of your candidate preference, who do you expect to win the presidential election in November?"

There, Trump wins, with 40% to Biden's 35%. Another 15% describe it as too close to call, while 8% say they "don't know enough to answer one way or the other."

Among Dems, just 70% say they think Biden will win, versus 9% who say Trump will win, 15% who describe it as too close to call, and 6% who say they don't know enough to answer. Republicans, with 82% predicting a Trump victory, while only 5% say Biden will win, and 8% think it's too close to call.

Independents, as always, move somewhere between the two big parties. Among the indie and third party voters, 28% predict a Biden win, compared to 33% who pick Trump. Another 19% say it's too close to call, and 14% aren't sure.

Another question asked to discern hidden strengths and weaknesses of the main candidates: "To the best of your knowledge, if the presidential election were held today, who do you believe most of your neighbors would vote for?"

Again, Trump wins with 43%, compared to 34% for Biden and 22% "not sure." While 65% of Dems say their neighbors will vote for Biden, 77% of GOP members say those who live in their neighborhood will vote Trump. For independents, its 38% Trump, 28% Biden and a whopping 32% "not sure."

One final note: Last month's I&I/TIPP Poll asked registered voters who they would win last week's debate. By 42% to 36%, respondents said Trump would prevail. This week, the media consensus on all sides of the debate is that Trump emerged victorious over a tired and at times confused 81-year-old Biden. So the I&I/TIPP Poll respondents called it correctly.

But Biden's performance in the debate was so bad, it's not clear he can continue as the Democratic Party nominee. Biden was reported to be meeting with family and possibly Democratic Party officials on Sunday to chart a course forward.

But initial poll readings on the aftermath of the Thursday night debate debacle isn't favorable for Biden. In fact, he's in deep trouble, especially within his own party, with some officials now quietly saying he should step aside.

A CBS/YouGov Poll taken after the debate found that 72% believe Biden doesn't have the "mental & cognitive health to serve as president." That includes half of Democrats.

"The president, at times, showed difficulty stringing ideas together and overall appeared tired," noted The Hill. "A rising number of Democratic voters, including some unnamed lawmakers, have called on Biden to step aside and allow a different candidate to take the party’s nomination."

But, even before the debate, Biden was in trouble with the electorate for his fading mental faculties. The I&I/TIPP Poll reported on June 17 that nearly half of all voters gave Biden failing grades for "mental acuity."

Now reports are emerging even from within the White House of Biden's growing mental issues. The left-leaning news site Axios on Saturday published a report saying "top aides have meticulously stage-managed minutiae such as Biden’s sleep schedule, his orthopedic shoes, his walks to Marine One and his climb aboard Air Force One to try to blunt concerns about his age."

White House insiders portray a president who is only "dependably engaged" from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day.

And even if the Dems want to replace Biden, it will not be easy.

As former FEC Commissioner Trey Trainor wrote in the Daily Caller, that the difficulties of replacing a winning candidate run up against “the complex mechanics of replacing a nominee across the 50 states, each governed by its own set of election laws and regulations.”

However, if Biden willingly steps aside, the picture changes, because Democratic National Committee rules would kick in, allowing “all delegates to the National Convention pledged to a presidential candidate shall in all good conscience reflect the sentiments of those who elected them.”

The implosion of Biden's presidency may have begun with his dismal performance in Thursday's debate against Trump. Democratic Party voters, as of yet, don't know whether Biden will be their nominee or not.

Big questions loom: Even if Biden decides to go, can Democrats find a winning replacement for him, especially after building up Biden's "successes" over the past three and a half years? Who would Dems want? Can they get dispirited and angry rank-and-file Democrat voters to show up at the polls in November?

For now, Biden and Trump remain roughly equal in the polls. But with the post-debate political developments happening so quickly, a big change in the polling numbers seems likely in the coming days and weeks.

I&I/TIPP publishes timely, unique, and informative data each month on topics of public interest. TIPP’s reputation for polling excellence comes from being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections.

Terry Jones is an editor of Issues & Insights. His four decades of journalism experience include serving as national issues editor, economics editor, and editorial page editor for Investor’s Business Daily.

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