Trump and Biden in tight race to see who can alienate the most Americans

Both men are equally unpopular in the US - it's over for them and that's a good thing

A recent poll gave Joe Biden a three-point lead over Donald Trump if the 2024 election were to be held today. AFP
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US President Joe Biden, whose approval ratings have been steadily sliding into the abyss for the past year, got some good news this week: he could beat former president Donald Trump in a hypothetical rematch.

A New York Times/Siena College poll gives the incumbent a three-point lead over Mr Trump if the 2024 election were to be held today.

This represents a remarkable accomplishment for Mr Trump, who has managed to match and then surpass Mr Biden's deep unpopularity, even as 90 per cent of Americans say the country is headed in the wrong direction, prices are soaring at rates not seen in 40 years and it now costs more than $100 to fill up the family car.

Instead of capitalising on a palpable sense of anger and frustration felt by most American families, Mr Trump has somehow been able to defy the national mood and alienate his own Republican Party.

The same poll found the former president, who is mulling a run in 2024, now only has the backing of 49 per cent of Republicans. It's a sea change for Mr Trump, long assumed to be a shoo-in for the Republican nomination in two years.

The reasons for this are many. The former kingmaker's political star is setting as many of his picks for primary races lose out to opponents he did not back.

And the historic hearings playing out on Capitol Hill are weighing heavily on his reputation.

Here was a president who — according to the congressional committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection — incited armed right-wing extremists to march on the Capitol in a bid to overturn Mr Biden's election win and, presumably, try to end democracy in America.

The panel and its witnesses have described time and again how Mr Trump knew his claims of election fraud were lies, yet he pushed them anyway.

Even Elon Musk, the self-declared Republican who is himself adept at alienating his followers, has had enough, telling Mr Trump to “hang up his hat and sail into the sunset”.

A vainglorious Mr Trump appears unable to move beyond the fact that he lost to Mr Biden by seven million votes. Now a critical mass of his supporters — whom he once bragged would still love him if he were to “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody” — seem to have had enough.

Mr Biden, however, can draw little comfort from this.

Aside from the Trump metric, nothing on the polling front is going right for the 79-year-old president, who insists he will run again even as the world's most demanding job exacts a tough toll.

His gaffes are growing worse by the week, he has been unable to secure significant legislative wins this year and the Democrats seem determined to bungle their messaging on vital issues whenever possible.

Only this week, first lady Jill Biden caused an uproar when she likened San Antonio, Texas's Latino community to breakfast tacos.

A Yahoo News/YouGov poll released on Wednesday found that only 18 per cent of Americans think Mr Biden should run again in 2024. He will be almost 82 by election day, by far the oldest of any president to seek a second term.

In the key under-30 demographic, 94 per cent of Democrats say they want to see a different presidential nominee, the New York Times/Siena College poll showed.

With the Democrats on a cruise-controlled crash into a midterm electoral bonfire, the news will only get worse for Mr Biden.

As the Republicans win control of Congress, they will open sprawling probes into his bungling of the end of the Afghanistan war, his son Hunter's laptop and other inconvenient issues like out-of-control inflation that the Democrats would rather just go away.

It is clear Mr Biden is no longer fit for the job. And Mr Trump's seemingly seditious actions on January 6 should disqualify him from ever running for office again.

Neither party has a deep bench of palatable alternatives — but it's time for the old guard to step aside and see who rises.

Whatever happens on November 5, 2024, it won't be a rematch between two of the most unpopular men in America — and that is a good thing. This country deserves better.

Published: July 13, 2022, 7:34 PM
OPINION