Trump Takes Witness Stand, Surges Ahead of Biden in Swing States

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  • November 7, 2023
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One year away from 2024 Election Day, there is an unusual political landscape emerging. Former president Donald Trump is facing a civil fraud trial and over 90 criminal charges, raising the possibility of a convicted felon becoming the Republican nominee next November. This is a significant departure from the norm.

President Joe Biden’s political fortunes are on the decline, adding yet another unexpected turn to the 2024 campaign season, which has been marked by legal proceedings rather than traditional early-voting state visits. In an unusual development, Donald Trump is anticipated to testify in a New York court on Monday, Nov 6. Such a situation is far from customary for a former president, but Trump’s presidency was known for its unconventional nature.

At the same time, President Joe Biden’s political prospects are deteriorating. Recent polls reveal that he is trailing behind Trump, the leading Republican candidate, in several crucial swing states. These numbers are likely to cause concern among Democrats and cast doubt on whether the nearly 81-year-old Biden is fit for a second term. If the New York Times/Siena College survey is accurate, it could mean that Biden has no viable path to victory in the 2024 election. On the other hand, an increasingly authoritarian Trump, who is pledging a second term marked by “retribution,” might manage to stage a comeback to the White House despite his involvement in the Capitol insurrection and false claims of electoral fraud in 2020.

On Sunday, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut gave a statement to CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” that, “I was concerned before these polls, and I’m concerned now.”

He further added, “These presidential races over the last couple of terms have been very tight. No one is going to have a runaway election here. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, concentration, and resources. And so we have our work cut out for us.”

The simultaneous challenges facing both Trump and Biden highlight the fact that, despite their shortcomings, neither of them has encountered a strong internal contender within their respective parties while pursuing their nominations.

Biden’s position is growing more precarious as he grapples with a series of global crises, including the Middle East conflict, experiences a decline in support for his economic policies, and witnesses fractures in the diverse coalition that initially elected him. This situation also reflects a divided and disheartened nation that is yearning for the elusive sense of normalcy that the president promised three years ago in the wake of the pandemic and the extraordinary turbulence of the Trump administration.

The latest poll is certain to reignite the debate over whether Biden’s insistence on running for re-election is the right course of action, though some Democrats argue that the opportune moment to rally around an alternative candidate may have already passed.

David Axelrod, a former senior strategist for President Barack Obama and a CNN senior political analyst, shared his thoughts on X, formerly known as Twitter, that “it’s very late to change horses.” Axelrod mentioned that Biden has defied conventional wisdom in the past, but the recent polls are causing doubts within the party.

Trump’s strong performance in the New York Times polls and other surveys is causing global concern. People are realizing that a second Trump term could disrupt the post-World War II Western alliance system and effectively benefit Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.

It’s important to note that polls this far out from an election in the modern era are not always reliable predictors and offer just a momentary snapshot. Many significant events that will influence the 2024 race have yet to occur.

Biden’s supporters argue that his low poll numbers and media narratives are missing the key point that will shape the 2024 election. They believe that once the choice between Biden and Trump becomes clear, the electorate will inevitably lean towards a president whose warnings in the previous midterm elections about the potential threat to US democracy from Republicans were more successful than pundits expected.

The economy, which has a strong foundation in terms of employment and growth, might shift more favorably towards Biden in the coming year, especially as everyone watches closely for high prices and interest rates.

The influence of third-party candidates on the election and the impact of a disorderly House GOP on voter sentiments remain uncertain variables.

While Trump’s loyal supporters have embraced his assertions that his legal troubles are politically motivated by the Biden administration, there is no historical precedent for the remarkable situation of a former president and potential nominee facing a trial during an election year.

Trump Takes the Stand

The New York courtroom trial is a significant test of former President Trump’s strategy in dealing with legal challenges and using them for political gain. It’s uncommon for former U.S. presidents to testify under oath, more commonly seen in less stable countries. The civil trial, which doesn’t carry criminal penalties, has already found Trump, his adult sons, and the Trump Organization engaged in “persistent and repeated” fraud. New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking $250 million in damages and a ban on Trump’s state business activities.

Trump is making the trial a dramatic spectacle, publicly criticizing proceedings and attacking individuals involved (the trial was not televised). This raises safety concerns and undermines the legal system’s credibility. Trump’s strategy highlights his ongoing threat to America’s democratic system, particularly regarding legal challenges tied to the 2020 election. He frames these issues as potential election interference in the lead-up to 2024. In a fundraising email, he warns that if Biden and the Democrats win, America may never have a genuinely fair election again.

Biden’s Political Troubles Deepen

The likely Republican presidential nominee faces potential conviction after one term in the White House, which included a second impeachment related to an insurrection. Given this, the question arises: Why is the 2024 race even close for Biden?

A poll by The New York Times and Siena College indicates that Trump has an edge over Biden on various issues, including the economy, immigration, national security, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, Biden is more trusted on abortion, which could boost Democratic turnout and pose a problem for the GOP in 2024.

Trump leads in several key states: Nevada (52% to Biden’s 41%), Georgia (49% to 43%), Arizona (49% to 44%), and Michigan (up by 5 points).

The poll also shows Biden losing support among black and Hispanic voters. Additionally, 71% of those polled believe Biden is too old to be an effective president, while only 39% hold the same view about Trump.

There is growing concern among Democrats, with some expressing anxiety about Biden’s re-election prospects. For example, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, voiced worries about Biden’s strong support for Israel in the context of the conflict in Gaza, particularly among Muslim Americans, Arab Americans, and young people.

The Biden campaign downplays polls a year ahead of the election, asserting confidence in their popular agenda over the perceived extremism of “MAGA Republicans.” Nonetheless, concerns within the Democratic camp are evident.