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It's Not Just MAGA Magic—Trump Holds Big Lead Over Biden On Most Key Issues In Latest I&I/TIPP Poll

Trump is ahead of Biden on five important subjects, while Biden is ahead of Trump on two.


It's pretty clear that both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are running neck and neck in their race for the presidency. But when it comes to asking voters about who would do a better job in the White House fixing their major concerns, Trump has a commanding lead, the latest I&I/TIPP Poll shows. Biden is in trouble.

For January's online national I&I/TIPP Poll, taken Jan. 3-5 from among 1,401 adults, registered voters were asked "who would you say has better policies" for each of seven key issues: "reducing taxes," "effectively handling the immigration and border security situation," "growing the economy," "addressing climate change," "reducing violence and crime in the country," "controlling government spending," and "reducing homelessness."

The score: Trump wins in five categories, to Biden's two. But, as always, party affiliation matters a lot. The poll has a +/-2.6 percentage-point margin of error.

On reducing taxes, 45% said Trump would do a better job, vs. 34% saying Biden would.  Another 21% were "not sure." For Democrats, the results were 69% Biden, 13% Trump; for Republicans, 82% Trump, 7% Biden; for independents, 43% Trump to 24% Biden.

That partisan pattern (Trump winning overall support, with Democrats leaning for Biden, Republicans strong for Trump, and independents showing milder but persistent support for Trump's policies) mostly held for all seven issues.

But there were two big exceptions: climate change and homelessness, both of which were Biden strengths with voters.

On climate, Biden ruled the issue with 48% to Trump's 28% support. Some 25% were "not sure." But party differences were still stark: Democrats gave Biden 80% support, just 7% to Trump; Republicans, 56% Trump and 17% Biden, with 28% "not sure." Independents gave 44% support to Biden, just 22% to Trump on the climate issue.

On homelessness, Biden edged out Trump by 37% to 33%, with a hefty 30% describing themselves as not sure. However, Dems were 72% Biden, 10% Trump, while Republicans gave Trump 65%, to Biden's 8%. Among independents, Biden and Trump were essentially tied: 27% of independents favored Biden, while 26% favored Trump. But a sizeable 45% were "not sure."

On all four of the remaining issues, overall Trump held solid or slim leads over Biden — immigration and border (Trump 49%, Biden 35%), economic growth (Trump 47%, Biden 37%), reducing violence and crime (Trump 39%, Biden 38%), and controlling government spending (Trump 43%, Biden 36%).

The data show red flags of caution for both candidates. The large "not sure" responses on all seven issues means many voters are undecided. Indeed, across all the questions, an average of 22% answered "not sure," rather than either of the candidates. That's a potentially large bloc of undecideds when it comes to key issues.

But, if anything, the data overall should be alarming to Biden's camp. As we noted, his support on key issues generally is much weaker than Trump's on all but two of the seven issues.

That lack of appeal on individual issues is met by an even greater concern for Biden supporters: his weakness with independents, a key swing group in the upcoming election.

It is safe to say that two things will be decisive in the next election: Party turnout, and how independents react to the major candidates. They now form a large, and increasingly influential, bloc of voters. Candidates that ignore their views put themselves in immense electoral peril.

A recent Gallup Poll shows why. It found an equal share of voters, 27%, called themselves Democrats and Republicans. But 41% described themselves as "independent," tied for the highest share ever. So, this year, based solely on voters' self-identification, roughly four of every 10 votes cast will be by independents.

"The increase in the percentage of independents has come more at the expense of Democrats than Republicans, which might be expected since Democrats were previously the largest political group," according to Gallup.

Among independents, Trump leads Biden on tax cuts (43% to 24%), immigration (48% to 24%), growing the economy (45% to 27%), reducing crime and violence (35% to 28%), controlling government spending (40% to 25%).

On homelessness, Biden edges out Trump among independents, but barely, 28% to 27%. With a 2.6 percentage point margin of error, that's a statistically insignificant difference. Only on one issue — climate change — does Biden have a significant lead among independents. It's 44% Biden, 22% Trump.

Both major primary challengers to Trump — Florida Gov. DeSantis and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley — had hoped to use independent support as a springboard to block the former president's electoral path.

But on Sunday, reading pollsters' grim prognostications for his expected performance against Trump in Tuesday's New Hampshire GOP primary vote, DeSantis announced he was ending his campaign and would now throw his support behind Trump.

That leaves only Haley standing, after finishing a disappointing third behind Trump and DeSantis in the recent Iowa Caucus. She is counting on independents to make a strong showing, if not to win, in New Hampshire against the politically potent Trump MAGA juggernaut.

But that's a tall order. Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, estimates Haley would need somewhere around 70% to 75% of the independent vote to upset Trump.

"That's never happened before," Smith told Reuters. "That's a really tall order."

In head-to-head competition, Trump has a small lead over Biden, as our I&I/TIPP Poll shows. But when it comes to the issues that most Americans care about, and potential support from independents on those key issues, he likely will be hard though not impossible to beat both in the primaries and in the general election.

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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Source: Washington Post