2024 showdown: Biden faces bigger polling deficit now than Obama did in 2011

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Amid a spate of polls suggesting President Biden trails former President Donald Trump in a likely 2024 election rematch, the Biden campaign and Democratic allies point back nearly a dozen years.

That’s when former President Barack Obama – with Biden as his running mate – won re-election to a second term in the White House in 2012 despite polls a year earlier predicting a ballot box defeat for the incumbent.

‘Predictions more than a year out tend to look a little different a year later,’ Biden campaign spokesperson Kevin Munoz said earlier this month.

‘Don’t take our word for it: Gallup predicted an eight point loss for President Obama only for him to win handedly a year later,’ Munoz added. 

And Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriquez wrote in a recent fundraising email that ‘the year is 2011. It’s one-year out from Election Day, and the New York Times has just put out polling showing President Obama trailing significantly in battleground states.’

But a trip down memory lane reminds us that while Obama was saddled in late 2011 with unfavorable polling a year before his re-election, his standing was not as troublesome as the deficits Biden currently faces.

Obama mostly maintained a slight polling advantage over eventual 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney. A Fox News poll from early December 2011 indicated the incumbent with a 44%-42% edge over Romney, after trailing the then-former Massachusetts governor by two points in a November survey.

And Obama topped another top contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination – former House Speaker Newt Gingrich – by five and six points in the November and December 2011 Fox News polls.

Fast-forward a dozen years and Biden trails Trump – the commanding front-runner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination as he makes his third straight White House bid – by four points.

The same Fox News national poll, conducted Nov. 10-13, suggests the president down by five points to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and trailing by 12 points to former ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, in hypothetical 2024 general election showdowns.

The president’s approval rating is also deeper underwater than Obama’s was a dozen years ago.

Biden’s approval rating, which has been in negative territory for over two years, stood at 40%-59% in the latest Fox News poll.

Obama stood at 42%-48% in the Fox News November 2011 poll, and at 44%-51% in the survey a month later.

The new Fox News poll, and surveys from other organizations, also point to high disapproval ratings for Biden among key groups that traditionally support Democrats.

Veteran Republican pollster Neil Newhouse noted that polls ‘aren’t necessarily predictive a year out.’

‘But that doesn’t mean you ignore these polls and they [Biden’s campaign] do so at their own risk,’ he emphasized.

Newhouse, the lead pollster on Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, argued that ‘Joe Biden is not the campaigner and communicator that Barack Obama was. The Obama folks had the full resources of a strong candidate at their disposal and I don’t think the Biden campaign does.’

Obama’s polling woes in 2011 came the year after Democrats were trounced in the 2010 midterm elections. 

The Biden campaign notes that twelve years later, the current Democratic president and his party are coming off  ballot box successes in the 2022 midterms, as well as this month’s off-year elections.

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