Former President Trump is leading President Biden by 2 points among registered voters, according to a new poll.
The New York Times/Siena poll, released Tuesday, also found that among likely voters, Biden takes the lead by an identical margin.
The mixed result is emblematic of a tight 2024 race, as the GOP primary is set to begin in just a few weeks.
Overall, 46 percent of all respondents sided with Trump and 44 percent Biden, while 9 percent were still undecided.
Asked for an immediate decision, 39 percent of respondents sided with Biden, a mark which continues a decline. The president’s support in that category has fallen in nearly every consecutive Times/Siena poll since July.
Biden’s “if you had to decide today” support topped out at 45 percent in September, but fell to 42 percent the next month and now rests at 39 percent. Trump, meanwhile, has seen little change in that result, falling slightly from 43 percent to 41 percent this month.
Respondents said the economy (20 percent), inflation (11 percent) and immigration (10 percent) were the most important issues to them, highlighting GOP campaign trail emphasis in attacks on the president.
The issues of abortion rights and climate, where Democrats have largely focused their campaigning, are the most important issue to less than 1 percent and 2 percent of respondents, respectively, according to the poll.
Biden also has a low approval rating in the poll, with a net 11 percent disapproval. Trump shares a similarly low favorability, net 8 percent unfavorable, but carries a larger group of strong supporters.
The Times/Siena poll falls in line with The Hill/Decision Desk HQ national polling averages, with Trump holding a 2 percent lead on the incumbent president.
The Times/Siena poll surveyed about 1,000 voters from Dec. 10-14, and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
he reaction to the events of October 7 has made the growing radicalization of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party—and, in particular, its indulgence of anti-Semitism—more clear than ever. And it has highlighted President Joe Biden’s role in resisting the leftward pull of those progressives, a stand of increasing importance not just for his party, but for the country as a whole.
In the early-morning hours of a Jewish holiday, Simchat Torah, the terrorist group Hamas launched an unprovoked attack, committing the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. Civilians were intentionally targeted, and constituted the overwhelming majority of casualties. Israeli families were burned alive while hiding in their homes. People were decapitated. The bodies of babies were riddled with bullets. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking at a Senate hearing, told of a boy, 6, and a girl, 8, and their parents around the breakfast table. The father’s eye was gouged out in front of his kids. The mother’s breast was cut off, the girl’s foot amputated, and the boy’s fingers cut off before they were executed. “And then their executioners sat down and had a meal,” Blinken said. “That is what this society is dealing with.”
One survivor of Hamas’s attack on a music festival told PBS’s Nick Schifrin that the terrorists raped girls and then murdered them with knives. And after they did that, “they laughed. They always laughed … I can’t forget how they laughed.”
President Biden’s reluctance to acknowledge his physical limitations at age 81 is causing some tension on his team, as senior aides and First Lady Jill Biden push him to rest more and be vigilant about his health going into 2024.
Why it matters: Current and former aides say Biden is extraordinarily energetic for his age. But his repeated insistence that he feels so young can draw eye rolls: Some current and former aides believe Biden doesn’t realize how old he can come across.
In conversations with aides and friends, Biden frequently says some version of: “I feel so much younger than my age.”
Managing Biden’s schedule and energy has become crucial to his re-election campaign, given widespread voter concerns about his ability to do the job until January 2029, when he’ll be 86.
Zoom in: Current and former Biden aides say he often pushes to do more travel and events than they think he should.
Biden pushing up against his limits sometimes creates a cycle in which he wears himself out, then appears fatigued during public events — which can increase concerns about his age, even when he’s taking on a rigorous schedule.
“He is his own worst enemy when it comes to his schedule,” a former Biden aide said.
Jill Biden and her team are deeply involved in the president’s day-to-day schedule.
She often works to get him as much rest as possible, and to improve his diet.
This dynamic between Jill and her husband’s team goes back to the end of his vice presidency, when he maintained a robust schedule into his early 70s, as he also dealt with the illness and death of his son Beau.
“Joe’s working too hard,” Jill would tell Biden’s then-chief of staff, Steve Ricchetti, Joe Biden recalled in his memoir, “Promise Me, Dad.” “He’s exhausted. He’s not sleeping. It’s going to kill him.”
Biden wrote that “the two of them would conspire to get me to ease off for a while.”
A White House official told Axios that the Bidens keep “an eye on one another’s schedules for the sake of balance — and they are far from the only couple in the administration who does that.”
Jill’s influence on the president’s calendar is unusual but has some precedent. Nancy Reagan would closely watch Ronald Reagan’s schedule — even occasionally consulting an astrologist.
At 69, Ronald Reagan was the oldest person to be elected U.S. president until Donald Trump, who was 70. Biden topped that: He was 77 when he was elected in 2020.
Ted Kaufman, Biden’s longtime friend and another former chief of staff, told Axios: “This is something that Biden’s been doing for his whole life — he always wants to do more.”
“He and Jill just want to do as much of what they are invited to,” Kaufman said. “Jill didn’t want him to do as much as he wanted to do. And he didn’t want her to do as much as she wanted to do.”
Zoom out: Polls indicate that more than 70% of voters have concerns about Biden serving a second term because of his age.
He has shown frustration with some people’s perception that he is too old to be commander-in-chief.
“With regard to age, I can’t even say, I guess, how old I am, I can’t even say the number. It doesn’t register with me,” he said in April.
Most voters — but not as many — have similar concerns about likely GOP nominee Trump, 77. Unlike Biden, Trump has been reluctant to release much information about his health.
Media coverage has frustrated the White House and Biden campaign officials, who believe the focus on his age has contributed to voters’ concerns.
What they’re saying: “Since he first ran for Senate, President Biden has always been a hard worker who is eager to do more than any schedule could accommodate,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates told Axios.
That commitment “has continued to show itself in the White House,” Bates added. “Like when he became the first president to visit two war zones not controlled by the U.S. military, [his] late-night discussions with members of Congress as he passed the most groundbreaking legislative agenda in modern history, or this past week as he continued to work around the clock on critical national security priorities long after House Republicans stopped trying to keep up and left Washington on vacation.”
Between the lines: Despite his sensitivity about acknowledging that his energy is lower than when he was younger, Biden has accepted changes in recent months to help him stay healthy and avoid tripping, including using the shorter stairs on Air Force One and wearing tennis shoes more often.
After some initial resistance, he’s been making more self-deprecating jokes about his age.
“I’ve never been more optimistic about our country’s future in the 800 years I’ve served,” he quipped at a September fundraiser.
Some former administration officials think that responding defensively to questions about Biden’s age might be satisfying to his fans — but they say he should acknowledge his age more explicitly to assuage voters’ concerns.
One former official told Axios: “His age is clearly something voters are worried about, fairly or not, and yelling, ‘Nuh-uh’ isn’t cutting it.”