In a recent series of polls conducted by the New York Times and Siena College, the status of the US presidential primary races in both the Democratic and Republican Parties has been brought into focus. Surprisingly, despite the wide range of contenders, the primary races appear to be narrowing down to just a two-man contest.
The poll focusing on the Democratic primary revealed an intriguing scenario – support for both former US President Donald Trump and current US President Joe Biden in a hypothetical presidential election held tomorrow was precisely equal, with each candidate capturing 43% of respondents’ votes.
Just 2 months earlier, another poll showed that former President Donald Trump lead President Biden by seven percentage points in a hypothetical head-to-head contest.
Furthermore, the poll showed a significant shift in Democratic sentiments towards Biden’s candidacy. Last summer, a NYT/Siena poll found that 64% of Democrats did not want Biden to be the nominee in 2024, with 94% of Democrats under the age of 30 opposing his nomination. However, that sentiment has now declined to just half of Democrats.
Despite Biden’s lead over other Democratic rivals, with 64% intending to vote for him in the party’s primary, some ambivalence remains. Around 30% of potential Biden voters expressed a preference for another nominee, while 51% stated they would be satisfied but not enthusiastic about his nomination, leaving only 20% expressing genuine enthusiasm.
A notable observation was that around 25% of Democrats hoped Vice President Kamala Harris would be the nominee. However, her unpopularity during the 2020 primary race, which led to her withdrawal, raises questions about her chances.
Meanwhile, on the GOP side, Trump continues to dominate the pack. The NYT/Siena Poll indicated that 54% of GOP voters support the former president, while just 17% back Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Other candidates, including former Vice President Mike Pence, US Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), and former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, polled at 3%. Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy polled at 2%, and the rest received even fewer votes.
Pollsters have noted a commonly held attitude across the political spectrum, expressing concerns about both Biden, aged 80, and Trump, aged 77, being considered too old to be ideal candidates.
Interestingly, many respondents who supported their respective candidates expressed their preference based on other factors, such as the economy’s status or the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than a strong enthusiasm for the candidates themselves.
In the November 2020 election, Biden won by a significant margin in terms of popular votes and Electoral College votes. However, many state races were closely contested, and Trump contested the results, claiming massive voter fraud. His efforts culminated in the January 6, 2021, US Capitol insurrection, which led to his impeachment on charges of incitement, though he was later acquitted in a Senate trial that occurred after Biden’s inauguration.
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