It's a tie: Biden 37%-Trump 37% as Hispanic, Black and younger voters shift – Exclusive

It couldn’t be closer.

Six months before Election Day, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are tied 37%-37% in an exclusive USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll as millions of Americans’ votes remain up for grabs.

While the nation’s fierce polarization has set many political preferences in stone, 1 in 4 registered voters (24%) say they might change their minds ahead of November’s election, and 12% haven’t made a choice yet. The new survey provides a road map of the persuadables most open to appeals in a campaign being shaped by sharp divides on abortion and immigration as well as an unprecedented criminal trial of a former president, now underway in New York.

What’s more, 8% are now supporting independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and an additional 5% backing other third-party contenders. Most of their supporters acknowledge they might switch their allegiances before they cast a ballot.

Tiffany Batton, 43, an independent from Chicago who was among those surveyed, plans to vote for Biden. “He inherited a lot of problems from the last administration,” the social worker said in a follow-up phone interview. “I feel like, if given a chance, he could fulfill some of those campaign promises if he had another four years.”

But she might change her mind, depending on what happens in the Mideast and elsewhere. “The war in Israel has been weighing really heavy on me,” she said.

Brett Watchom, 36, a shipping clerk from Denver who is also an independent, backs Kennedy, attracted by his position on housing and because he is “the only one not part of the horrible uni-party machine.”

He allowed that he might switch his support “if the Libertarian candidate turns out to be better.”

The poll of 1,000 registered voters, taken by landline and cellphone Tuesday through Friday, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

The candidates have limited time ahead to make their case.

“When we think about the race tied with just 26 weeks to go, we have to consider that people tune out politics and the party conventions in July and August,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “That leaves just 17 weeks for candidates to actively campaign, and it’s actually 13 or 14 weeks when you consider states where early voting starts weeks before Election Day.

“We’re basically at the doorstep of the election, and the outcome is a coin flip.”

Rock Hill, South Carolina |
Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump thanks supporters after speaking at a “Get Out The Vote” rally at Winthrop University on Feb. 23, 2024 in Rock Hill, S.C. During his 90-minute speech Trump talked about the southern border and the economy, among other topics, including reiterating his support for the right of families to use IVF. He also brought up unfounded claims of election interference.

Biden gains among Black voters, Trump loses among young voters

The new poll shows Biden’s standing against Trump improving inch-by-inch, albeit within the survey’s margin of error.

In the USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll taken in January, Biden trailed Trump by 3 points − 34%-37% − and in March he trailed by 2, at 38%-40%. Now they’re even.

Since the beginning of the year, Biden has gained ground among some key voters while Trump has lost it.

  • Among voters under 35 years old, Biden has gained 1 percentage point and Trump has lost 12 since the survey in January. Biden now holds a lead, 34%-25%, although not the overwhelming one he scored in the 2020 election.

  • Among Hispanic voters, Biden’s support has stayed the same, but Trump has lost 11 points. Biden now leads 34%-28%, still short of the 2-1 edge he had in 2020.

  • Among independents, Biden has gained 5 points, and Trump has lost 4. Now the two are essentially tied, with Trump at 27% and Biden at 26%. Nearly as many, 22%, are undecided, and 23% are supporting third-party candidates.

  • Among Black voters, Biden has gained 7 points since January while Trump’s standing hasn’t changed. They now support Biden by 64%-12% − better than before, though still far short of the 87% who voted for him in 2020.

The White House has recently announced policy decisions and aired political ads that have particular appeal to some younger swing voters, including moving to ease federal regulation of marijuana and relieve some college student debt. This month, Biden is slated to deliver the commencement address at Morehouse College, an historically Black school.

Who’s in play? Young voters, Hispanic voters, independents and RFK backers

The strength of the third-party candidates may be built on sand.

Eight in 10 of those supporting Kennedy say they might change their minds before they vote. So do 88% of those supporting independent Cornel West, 65% of those who plan to support the Libertarian nominee, and 58% backing Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Typically the support for third-party candidates declines as Election Day nears, although in close elections the impact of drawing only thousands of voters in swing states can tip the election outcome.

In 2016, the Green Party candidate took votes from Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, crucial states she ended up losing. In 2020, the Libertarian candidate drew voters from Trump in Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia, critical states he lost.

“I’m leaning towards Joe Biden, and I’ll tell you why: I look at his record on the economy,” said Al Wilson, 56, an independent from Shelby, Michigan, who works as the production manager for an auto manufacturer. He credits the president with restoring the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also cites Biden’s presidential “deportment,” implicitly contrasting it with Trump. “We need leadership that is not (in) the news cycle all the time,” he said. “I get sick of that. I don’t want to hear that. I don’t want to hear controversy. I don’t want you involved in controversy all the time.”

Other swing voters also say they might change their minds before November, including 43% of independents. Nearly half of independent women, 47%, are open to persuasion, one reason the Biden campaign has focused so intently on abortion access as an issue.

Some groups that Democrats rely on in national elections say their minds aren’t firmly made up. That includes 37% of Hispanic voters, 27% of Black voters and 44% of voters under 35.

More than two-thirds of those surveyed (69%) say the country is “on the wrong track;” fewer than 1 in 4 (23%) say it is “headed in the right direction.” That’s a tick less positive than the nation’s mood in the March survey.

“I haven’t made up my mind yet,” said Emily Weller, 39, a Republican from Indianapolis. “I would not vote for former President Trump; I don’t think that I would vote for President Biden,” the stay-at-home mom said. “My vote matters to me and I want to vote, but it’s not cut-and-dried.”

‘Everything was better under Trump’

Then there are those voters definitely not in play.

Those now supporting Biden say by 84%-14% that their minds are firmly made up. Trump supporters are set by a similarly wide 83%-16%.

“Everything was better under Trump,” declared Mike McCombs, 67, a Republican and an independent insurance agent from Lincolnton, Georgia. “The economy was better. Fuel prices were better. Biden has choked the middle class to death.”

A conviction of Trump in his current trial, on charges relating to paying hush money to a porn star, wouldn’t change his view. “It would probably make me support him more because this is a rigged trial anyway,” he said.

Both major-party candidates have solidified their standing among their partisans. Now 87% of Democrats back Biden, up 7 points since January; 84% of Republicans back Trump, up 5 points.

A negligible 2% of Democrats and 1% of Republicans are crossing the aisle to support the other major party’s presumptive nominee.

“I liked the way he ran the country when he was president the first time,” said Stephen Harrison, 52, a small-business owner and Trump supporter from Manhattan, Montana. “The economy is No. 1. He did a good job of keeping things running and open best he could during the pandemic.

“The only thing that would change my mind is if he isn’t on the ballot,” he said.

Francis Spitale, 60, a Democrat from Charleston, South Carolina, who cares for newborns, says her support for Biden is unshakable.

“Are all the policies perfect?” she asked. “No. But I respect him as a good, decent human being who has been able to accomplish more in two or three years than a lot of other presidents have been able to.”

She dismissed those who say Biden, at 81, is too old to serve another term.

“No one’s saying the (Rolling) Stones are too old to have a concert; Bruce Springsteen is out there at 73,” she said. “If you are a productive person, you don’t have to be skateboarding and skiing down the slopes to be effective.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden and Trump tie 37%-37% as Hispanic, Black, younger voters shift

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