Saturday, May 11, 2024


The general election is six months away. A lot can happen in that time. Candidates who are leading right now might not be leading in November. Nevertheless, there's a notable disparity between the poll numbers for President Biden and the numbers for vulnerable Democratic senators.

In the Real Clear Polling average, Biden trails Donald Trump by 1.2 points in a two-candidate race. Trump's lead is small, but Biden hasn't led since October. What's worse, Biden trails in every swing state -- Trump leads by 5 in Arizona, by 3.8 in Georgia, by 1.2 in Michigan, by 4.5 in Nevada, by 5.4 in North Carolina, by 1.8 in Pennsylvania, and by .5 in Wisconsin. If these numbers are accurate and were to hold up in November, Trump would win a popular-vote squeaker, but he'd win the Electoral College easily.

Obviously, that might not happen. But it's where the polls say that the race stands now.

Democrats also face a brutal Senate map, defending seats in a number of red or purple states, as well as fighting to hold on to a seat in Maryland, where a popular Republican ex-governor, Larry Hogan, is running. Democrats are certain to lose the Senate race in West Virginia -- Joe Manchin was the state's last electable Democrat, and he's retiring. A loss there would reduce the Democratic caucus in the Senate from 51 seats to 50, but only if Democrats run the table everywhere else.

If current polls are right, they might just do that. In Arizona, according to Real Clear Polling, Democrat Ruben Gallego leads Republican Kari Lake by 6. In Michigan, Democrat Elissa Slotkin leads her likely Republican challenger, Mike Rogers, by 1.2. In Montana -- Montana! -- Democrat Jon Tester leads Republican Tim Sheehy by 5.5. In Nevada, Democrat Jacky Rosen leads her likely Republican opponent, Sam Brown, by 7. In Ohio, Democrat Sherrod Brown leads Republican Bernie Moreno by 5. In Pennsylvania, Democrat Bob Casey leads Republican Dave McCormick by 5.3. And in Wisconsin, Democrat Tammy Baldwin leads Republican Eric Hovde by 6.7.

In Maryland, according to the RCP average, Larry Hogan leads his potential Democratic challengers, David Trone and Angela Alsobrooks. But in the most recent poll conducted by Emerson College for The Hill, Alsobrooks leads Hogan by 10 and Trone leads Hogan by 11.

I know that many of you don't believe in polls. But this doesn't seem to be a collection of random numbers. Democrats in competitive Senate races are running several points ahead of Biden. Maybe that won't hold up. But if it does, pundits who argued that Biden should drop his reelection bid are likely to feel vindicated.

I hope the optimists are right. I hope skeptical voters come home to Biden. I hope there's a Trump conviction in New York that leads to a decline in his polling. I hope Democrats overperform in this race the way they have in off-year races. But right now, it looks as if Biden is a weaker candidate than the average Democrat, and that's not good.

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