Analysis: Americans Say 2024 Race is About the Issues Not Candidates Puts Biden at a Sharp Disadvantage

Joe Biden
by Manzanita Miller


The mainstream media is running with the headline that the latest Fox News poll shows Former President Trump two points behind President Joe Biden – a difference well within the margin of error – but the poll also reveals an edge for Trump on a majority of electoral issues. In addition, a majority of voters say the race in November will be about the issues, not about the candidates, a finding that could significantly favor Trump.

The poll does show Trump has lost a modest amount of ground since his conviction earlier this month, however, he remains up significantly with key groups of swing voters compared to 2020. The data continues to show Biden in a deep deficit with minorities and young voters but clawing his way back up with older voters and whites.

The latest Fox News poll found Biden leading Trump by two points – 50 percent to 48 percent – while the May Fox poll found Trump ahead of Biden by a single-point, 49 percent to 48 percent. The two-point difference is well within the margin of error (as was Trump’s one-point edge in May) but it is worth noting that even after the breaking news about Trump’s conviction he has lost only a single point. If anything, the conviction appears to have activated a small percentage of fence-sitting Democrats.

However, this is not cause for celebration for Biden. The edge Democrats hoped to milk from Trump’s legal woes is marginal at best, and the poll continues to show wide deficits for Biden among key coalitions of his 2020 base.

The poll finds Biden in an eighteen-point deficit with Black voters compared to 2020, earning just 73 percent of their vote in the latest poll compared to the 91 percent he earned in the 2020 election.

Biden is also down twelve points with Hispanics compared to 2020, earning just 53 percent of their vote in the poll compared to winning 65 percent of their vote in 2020.  The poll also shows Biden on track to win young people by just eight percentage points, after winning them by twenty-four points in 2020.

However, the poll did find a dip in support for Trump among independent voters compared to the May poll. In the May Fox News poll, independents favored Trump by two points, but now favor Biden by nine points. This indicates at least as current polls stand, Biden has regained some of the independent vote he has been losing in polls for the past year. However, this current number still puts Biden down four points with independents compared to 2020.

More bad news for Biden, Americans say by a greater than two-to-one margin (59 percent to 29 percent) that the race in November will be about issues, rather than about candidates. This is a finding that could bolster Trump’s prospects, considering he is ahead of Biden on handling most major electoral issues.

The poll finds Trump ahead of Biden by nine points on immigration, five points on the economy, four points on the Israel-Hamas war, and two points on guns, while Biden leads by six points on the future of American Democracy and thirteen points on abortion.

While Trump’s conviction appears to have moved the needle slightly in Biden’s favor, the movement is well within the margin of error and is minimal compared to Trump’s advantage on key electoral issues. There has been a shift back toward Biden among independents, but his numbers remain lower than they were in 2020. Biden’s largest struggles remain with minority voters, who appear to have moved the least in reaction to Trump’s legal woes.

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Manzanita Miller is the senior political analyst at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.



Reprinted with permission from

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