Biden’s surprise campaign boost has changed 2024 race

Polling can only tell us so much. It captures a moment in time that can be sustainable or utterly fleeting. It can also be wrong or, as we saw in the 2016 election, capture the most remote possibility. 

That said, it remains an integral data point when it comes to how we view the state of the race and there’s no question that we’re seeing a shift in the results of the presidential contest since the State of the Union.  

I know as well as anyone that typically the State of the Union (SOTU) speech doesn’t have much of an effect. It’s a great opportunity for the president to seize an opportunity for attention and galvanize his base both in the room and at home. But there isn’t often a sustained change in the race. Some good coverage the night of and a little bump that disappears in a couple of days, at best.  

Not so for President Biden, though. The three weeks since the SOTU have seen demonstrable poll gains, multiple huge cash infusions, and a preview of the campaign that’s to come – and people like it. 

Prior to the SOTU, the coverage of positive polls for former President Donald Trump and concerned essays from Democrats about Biden’s age was near breathless. In particular, the New York Times/Sienna survey, which found Trump gaining considerable ground with Black, GenZ, and female voters was a topic of widespread interest and Ezra Klein’s piece calling on Biden to step down a ‘hero’ dominated the cycle.  

Today, we have seen 12 national polls since the SOTU that have Biden leading Trump and, for the first time in seven months, Biden was up one in the Economist polling average. Now they are in a dead heat. Even in surveys that have been heavily leaning towards Trump throughout the contest, Biden is gaining ground. For instance, in the latest Harvard/Harris poll Biden is down 51% to 49% and has gained two points while Trump has lost two.  

In the race for the battleground states – which we know decides the race! – Biden is finally seeing some good news. The newly released Bloomberg/Morning Consult swing state survey signals a potential Biden comeback.  

The polls show Biden with a one-point lead in Wisconsin and tied with Trump in Pennsylvania and Michigan, a sign that the ‘Blue Wall’ any Democrat needs to win is coming around to him. He’s within the margin of error in Nevada and while still trailing outside the margin of error in Arizona and North Carolina, he’s still gaining. The only state where Trump’s lead grew was in Georgia. 

Biden says it

While we all wish that it didn’t cost billions of dollars to win a presidential election, the reality is that it does. And Biden is blowing Trump out of the water when it comes to cash.  

In the 24 hours after the SOTU, Biden was able to raise an unprecedented $10 million, a sign of how well the speech played with Americans. And the FEC filings for February reveal that Biden raised nearly double what Trump brought in for the month and finished with $71 million cash on hand as compared to $33.5 million for Trump. The Democratic National Committee is also routing the Republican National Committee with $26.5 million to $11.3 million cash on hand. 

In short, when it comes to money, I’d rather be Biden than Trump. 

We are getting a taste of what Biden’s campaign will look like, and it’s much higher energy than expected. In just the last week, the president visited five cities and, after his trip to North Carolina on Tuesday, will have visited all the swing states since the SOTU. Hardly the ‘basement campaign’ Biden’s detractors were previewing.  

At the same time, Trump has been spending most of his time in South Florida and in various courtrooms complaining about the unfair hand he’s being dealt by the justice system. He had an appearance at a rally in Ohio last week for the newly minted Senate candidate Bernie Moreno, but beyond that his campaign doesn’t even have any events listed.  

Lastly, it’s important to note that as far as the results from the primaries go, Trump rolled through and was able to notch some major wins, but major warning signs persist. On Super Tuesday, for instance, a majority of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s voters said they were voting against Trump rather than for Haley, and she won moderate voters by a 2-to-1 margin. While only 20% of the GOP electorate, in close races, like 2020, they can make all the difference. The GOP is far from unified.  

I’m not naïve enough to think that it’s going to be smooth sailing for Biden. Or that there aren’t millions of Americans that are open to Trump and are buying into his victimhood campaign.  

But the facts on the ground are changing and even the most sober look at Biden’s positioning shows that he’s gaining and had a very good few weeks.  

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