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Even Amid Trump's Legal Troubles, His Lead Widens: I&I/TIPP

Trump leads DeSantis 55%-17% in the GOP Primary.

The White House from Washington, DC, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Former President Donald Trump has been much in the media in recent weeks, but not all or even most of the coverage has been favorable. Even so, he has stretched his lead against a field of potential Republican challengers significantly over the past month. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden's lead against the Democratic field remains essentially the same, the latest I&I/TIPP Poll shows.

In the online poll, taken from May 3-5, we asked 703 Democrats and those leaning Democrat, and 469 Republicans and those leaning Republican who their preferred candidate would be. The margin of error for the Democratic sample was +/- 4.0 percentage points, and the Republican sample was +/- 5.0 percentage points.

The ever-controversial former president's lead hasn't disappeared or even diminished in recent weeks, despite being charged with numerous crimes.

In the most recent poll reading, Trump stands at 55% support, up from 47% in April and 51% in March. His nearest challenger, Ron DeSantis, claims 17% of the GOP's voters, down from 23% in April and 21% in March.

Do the math: Trump has extended his lead over the popular Florida governor to 38 percentage points, versus 24 percentage points last month and 28 percentage points in March.

No other Republican candidate reaches double-digit support.

Former Vice President Mike Pence remains stuck at 6%, his average over the past three months, while Trump's former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley remains at 4%, unchanged for three months.

Entrepreneur and author Vivek Ramaswamy, a virtual unknown before announcing his candidacy in February, has raised his support from 1% in March and April to 4% this month, after hitting the hustings and making several public appearances.

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott gets 2% of the vote, while Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchison and popular radio personality and former California gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder both eke out 1% support. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who last week called Trump a “coward” and a “puppet of Putin,” and current New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu both get 0%.

Democrats are a different story.

Despite Biden's obvious mental issues and a number of policy stumbles over the last month, he maintains a 39% piece of the Democratic Party total preference for the 2024 primary campaign, the I&I/TIPP poll shows.

His closest competitor this month was Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, at 9%, followed by former First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Kamala Harris (both at 7%), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (7%), Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (4%), New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (all at 3% each), and environmental lawyer, author, and activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at 2%.

A number of other Democratic aspirants all barely registered at just 1% of party support, including Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Virginia senator and former vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, and New Age author and politician Marianne Williamson. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand received 0% support.

May's reading shows Biden leads the nearest competitor in the field by 30 percentage points, the same as in April. That's down from a 34 percentage point lead in March. Still, no Democratic candidate has achieved double-digit support in that three-month span, and Biden's support while down from earlier appears to have stabilized for the time being.

Will Americans be asked to choose between an ailing 81-year-old Biden and a robust 78-year-old former president in 2024? Barring a breakthrough by one or more candidates in next year's primaries and caucuses, the answer right now seems to be "yes."

While many pundits surmise that Biden might drop out next year to support a younger candidate, his recent actions suggest otherwise. Biden attended two Manhattan fundraisers held by billionaire supporters last week, hoping to raise millions for his upcoming reelection bid.

But will voters, even Democrats, support Biden after recent record surges in illegal immigration across the nation's southern border, the potential financial chaos of a U.S. debt default, the stubborn inflation that hasn't gone away despite 10 Fed rate hikes over the past year, continuing declines in working Americans' real incomes, and soaring crime rates across the country?

Officially, Democratic Party leaders fully support Biden. But, behind the scenes, it's a different story.

"Top officials privately have expressed anxiety about the state of the president’s reelection operation," according to a recent Politico report.

"Currently, there is no headquarters and only a handful of full-time staffers in place, not one of which is a finance director," the report continued. "The president’s political team refuses to discuss its fundraising numbers in public, sparking anxiety among donors that the number is underwhelming and could continue to lag as the summer months approach."

And other recent polls show potential big trouble for Biden, who trails in some recent public opinion soundings. A Washington Post headline summed it up: "Biden faces broad negative ratings at start of campaign, Post-ABC poll finds."

As USA Today wrote, "in a hypothetical 2024 general election matchup, Biden is falling behind Trump, with 44% of voting-age respondents saying they would either 'definitely' or 'probably’ vote for Trump while 38% say the same for Biden. Meanwhile, 18% are undecided."

Biden's age and mental health issues are major problems. In the Post-ABC poll, just 32% said he has the “mental sharpness it takes to serve effectively as president” and 33% said he's "physically fit to serve."

Meanwhile, 64% say Trump is physically fit enough to be president, and 58% say he's mentally fit enough. It's a very bad comparison for Biden. In a head-to-head matchup, Trump beats Biden 49% to 42%.

Worse still, potentially, for Biden is the ongoing congressional probe into allegations that he was bribed by foreign nations while serving as vice president under Barack Obama.

If House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer's investigation "really has the goods on Biden," as the American Spectator asserted recently, "the Democrats will force Biden to resign for 'health reasons' and Donald Trump will annihilate Kamala Harris in 2024."

As for The Donald, he has put forth a number of ideas for a second-term presidency. They range from abolishing the Education Department to controlling the border to shrinking the federal bureaucracy.

"Together, we are going to finish what we started,” Trump told a Texas rally in February. “With you at my side, we will totally obliterate the deep state, we will banish the warmongers from our government, we will drive out the globalists, and we will cast out the communists and Marxists, we will throw off the corrupt political class, we will beat the Democrats, we will rout the fake news media, we will stand up to the RINOs, and we will defeat Joe Biden and every single Democrat.”

But he still faces multiple charges, including a 34-count felony charge by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, and has already been found liable for sexual assault in a civil case, though that is under appeal and may well be overturned. A host of other charges also await.

Will those be fatal to his 2024 campaign? Even his detractors don't think so. "Yes, of course, Donald Trump can win in 2024," ran a recent CNN headline.

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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