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Frustrated Independents Give Trump An Edge Over Biden In 2024: I&I/TIPP Poll

Trump leads Biden 43%-41% in a head-to-head matchup.

Photo: Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia, via Wikimedia Commons
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Former President Donald Trump continues to face legal charges on his return path to the presidency, while current President Joe Biden carries his age, fading mental acuity, and charges of corruption as he seeks a second term. So who has the edge now in the head-to-head electoral matchup for 2024? Thanks to solid independent voter backing, Trump still edges out Biden, the latest I&I/TIPP Poll shows.

Trump wins 43% of the overall vote, while Biden gets 41% in the national online I&I/TIPP Poll, taken from Jan. 31-Feb. 2, with 1,266 registered voters participating. The poll has an overall +/-2.8 percentage-point margin of error.

The results for the two major parties are predictably partisan, with Democrats favoring Biden over Trump 80% to 7%, while Republicans give Trump the nod 86% to 5% over Biden. However, once again, independent voters prefer Trump over Biden by 41% to 35%, while 13% wanted “other.”

As I&I noted last month, the independent vote will be crucial for both candidates, this year more than ever.

Why? Independents now make up a hefty plurality of 43% of all registered voters, according to recent data from Gallup, with both the GOP and Democrats at just 27% each. The share of people calling themselves “independent” was tied for a record high, while Democrat ID was at an all-time low.

However, the picture changes somewhat when all voters are asked which way they “lean,” Democrat or Republican. Then the answer is: 45% Republican, 43% Democrat. Edge, again, to the Republicans.

So both parties will have to focus not just on motivating their own voters, but in getting the increasingly sizable independent vote motivated as well. Right now the share of independents saying “other” (13%) or they’re “not sure” (10%) totals nearly a quarter of the entire independent vote. So neither party can take them for granted.

Yet, as it is now, both presidential hopefuls hold commanding primary leads in their respective parties with just nine months to the 2024 election, the I&I/TIPP Poll shows.

Start with the Democrats. With the nomination still up in the air, I&I/TIPP asked the 542 Democrats who answered the poll: “If the Democratic primary were held today and the following are the candidates, whom would you vote for?”

It wasn’t close.

Biden won 70% support over his two announced challengers, Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips (3%) and author, politician and activist Marianne Williamson (5%). “Someone else” won 4%, while “not sure” got a much-larger 17%, perhaps suggesting concerns about Biden among one-in-five Democrat voters.

So is it over among the Democrats? Not really. Given Biden’s record-low job-approval reflects his status as one of the least popular leaders in modern presidential history, it’s not certain he’ll make it to the election.

Rumors and open speculation that Biden might drop out or even be nudged out by concerned Democratic officials have circulated in Washington for months. What if his clear issues with age, mental clarity and expanding corruption allegations push Biden to drop out in mid-course and instead retire with First Lady Jill to his beloved Rehoboth, De., beach house?

Meanwhile, Trump, like Biden, holds a huge lead among what remains of the once sizable bunch of Republican challengers. Trump gets 74% of the GOP vote, compared to former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s 17%.

With a 57 percentage-point lead over his nearest competition, Trump’s biggest campaign challenge may well be staying out of prison on any of the four indictments he has faced since last year.

A more intriguing question might be how would Trump and Biden do with a full slate of third-party and independent candidates siphoning off votes?

We asked just that, listing both Trump and Biden as candidates, along with independent lawyer and activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., former Harvard Professor Cornell West, Green Party standard bearer Jill Stein, Libertarian Party activist Lars Mapstead, and No-Labels Party front man and current West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.

As ordered immediately above, Trump gets 40%, Biden 34%, Kennedy 8%, West 2%, Stein and Mapstead 1% each, Manchin 3% and “other” (2%) and “not sure” 10%.

All told, all combinations of possible third-party candidates take home just 17% of the vote. And plainly, while they do take some support from Trump, Biden gets hurt worst, losing 7% of his votes compared to just 3% for Trump.

So, as it stands, Trump has a current edge over Biden, but his two percentage point advantage remains within the margin of error.

And no doubt Trump’s advisers are worried over a just-released Morning Consult Poll that reported “if Donald Trump were to be convicted of one of the 91 charges he’s facing, he would lose 51% of his support. And if he were sentenced to prison, the number goes up to 55%.”

(Note: In a December I&I/TIPP Poll, 72% of Trump’s GOP supporters said they would still vote for him if he were convicted.)

Right now, Biden’s dealing with serious political issues, including an abysmal 37% job approval rating, due largely to the massive influx of illegal entrants across the U.S. border, and what has been called a “stunning” NBC Poll showing Biden trailing Trump by five percentage points overall.

The data look even worse once they’re broken out. Newsmax writes:

Former President Donald Trump not only leads Biden by 5 points (47%-42%) in the national poll, but also leads by big margins:

  • 23 points on mental and physical health to be president (46%-23%)
  • 22 points on handling the economy (55%-33%)
  • 21 points on dealing with crime and violence (50%-29%)
  • 16 points on being competent and effective (48%-32%)
  • 11 points on improving America’s standing in the world (47%-36%)
  • 35 points on securing the southern border (57%-22%)

Barring an unexpected surge by a third-party candidate, for the time being it looks like it’s all Biden vs. Trump. And right now, clearly, Trump has the edge.

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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