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We are just about a year away from the US presidential election and the Democrats have many reasons to be uneasy. New polls show that President Joe Biden is trailing Donald Trump. One poll by Harvard CAPS-Harris found that 44 per cent of respondents said they would vote for Trump, while 40 per cent said they would back Biden. And 15 per cent said they were unsure or didn’t know. The CBS News poll with YouGov shows Trump ahead of Biden by 1 point — 50 to 49 per cent.

Both men aren’t exactly “young leaders” — Trump is 77 and Biden is 80 — but Biden’s age and health are clearly a big factor weighing on the minds of voters. The CBS poll found that only a third of voters think Biden would finish a second term. While 43 per cent of voters felt Trump was healthy enough to serve as president, only 16 per cent felt the same for Biden.

Are the Democrats really backing Biden?

The poll also found that most people think Biden’s leadership style is calm and predictable (which actually doesn’t sound like a bad thing), but most voters also feel the US needs a “tough” president, qualities most do not ascribe to Biden but to Trump.

The New York Times did a piece which detailed how the Democratic Party leadership was rallying behind Biden, but the rank and file of the party is not so sure that he is their best bet for 2024. The paper said it is a level of disunity in the party not seen for decades. His age seems to be the primary factor. Biden will be 81 next year. Many are worried about whether he can take on the rigours of another term.

US President Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden speaks during the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute 46th Annual Gala at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, on September 21, 2023. A CNN poll released this month says 67 per cent of Democrats would not prefer Biden’s renomination. Image Credit: AFP

A CNN poll released this month says 67 per cent of Democrats would not prefer Biden’s renomination. But if not Biden, then who? There really isn’t any serious Democratic challenger out there at the moment.

The president’s overall approval ratings are another cause for worry. The CNN poll found his approval ratings at just 39 per cent, and 58 per cent of those surveyed said they believe that Biden’s policies have worsened economic conditions in the US. His son Hunter Biden’s legal troubles could not have come at a worse time. There are questions over whether this will distract Joe Biden in a crucial election and even become a factor in the 2024 campaign.

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President Biden faces an impeachment inquiry as House Republicans seek to connect him to his son’s business interests. Of course, this is nothing compared to the criminal charges that Donald Trump faces, that too multiple ones.

The world will watch next year’s American presidential election more closely than ever. Many unknown variables are at play, including whether Donald Trump can legitimately contest given his criminal charges and the real prospect of winning if he makes it to the Republican ballot.

Optimists in the Democratic Party say even Barack Obama had low approval ratings a year before his re-election and that one year is a long time for Biden to turn things around. That may well be the case. But will it be enough to win?