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We are 6 months from the 2024 presidential election. Here's where things stand.

John L. Dorman   

We are 6 months from the 2024 presidential election. Here's where things stand.
  • The presidential election is only 6 months away.
  • President Biden and former President Trump are already competing hard for votes ahead of November.

With six months until Election Day, the race between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump is already in high gear.

In March, Biden and Trump clinched enough delegates to secure the Democratic and GOP presidential nominations, respectively, ahead of their party conventions.

With Biden facing only scant primary opposition and Trump easily dispatching onetime Republican challengers like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, the stage for the November election has largely been set.

And this election is unlike any contest in recent history.

Biden, a former vice president, is aiming to portray himself as a protector of American democratic institutions and as the candidate who is not only rebuilding the country's infrastructure but boosting middle-class families along the way.

Meanwhile, Trump — who lost to Biden in the highly contentious 2020 election — is seeking to paint himself as the stronger candidate on the economy and immigration, both issues where Biden has shown significant vulnerabilities among the electorate. But Trump is also hampered by his ongoing hush-money trial in Manhattan, where the outcome could imperil his campaign.

Here's a look at where the contest stands six months out:

National polls point to a close race

National surveys show Trump averaging a 1.5% lead over Biden, according to RealClearPolling.

A recent Morning Consult poll had Biden and Trump tied at 43% support.

The most recent Harvard-Harris presidential poll showed Trump leading Biden 52% to 48%.

Meanwhile, the latest NPR/PBS/Marist survey had Biden leading Trump 50% to 48%.

The race gets even more unpredictable when Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is thrown into the mix. The independent candidate is attracting the support of 10.3% of respondents in national polls, RealClearPolling reported.

The battle will again be in the swing states

While national polls may provide a snapshot of the overall race, the race will be decided in the same seven swing states that were front and center in 2020 — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

In 2020, Biden won the election by winning core Democratic states and every major swing state except for North Carolina, which he lost by one percentage point.

Biden is already making a huge push for North Carolina. He's already visited the state several times this year. His campaign aims to have 40 staffers in the Tar Heel State by the end of May, according to The Washington Post.

It's an early investment that his campaign hopes can give him inroads among the Black, suburban, and independent voters who could make him the first Democratic presidential nominee to win the state since Barack Obama in 2008.

A win in North Carolina could also give Biden breathing room as he faces challenges in other swing states. The president won Arizona and Georgia narrowly in 2020, and he'll need to hold together an already-tenuous political coalition that includes young and minority voters, as well as a key bloc of Republicans who backed Haley but are on the fence about backing his candidacy.

Biden will also have to sell his economic message in Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania to win those states again. That could be tough, given voter dissatisfaction with the economy.

Democrats are banking on abortion rights

Ever since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the issue of abortion — now free of federal protections — was punted to the states.

While Democratic-leaning states generally expanded and added protections for abortion access, the most conservative states heavily restricted the procedure, with many instituting six-week abortion bans that are unpopular with wide swaths of the electorate.

Many Democrats in the 2022 and 2023 elections found success with their pro-choice stance, as well as their opposition to a national abortion ban that has long been championed by conservatives.

While Trump has sought to jump in front of issues regarding reproductive rights, backing IVF and stating that he doesn't support a national abortion ban, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have hammed the GOP over abortion, warning voters that Trump and congressional Republicans cannot be trusted on the issue.

Biden and Harris are already throttling Trump over the issue as they campaign in states like North Carolina and Arizona — where the state's near-total abortion ban was recently repealed by the GOP-controlled legislature after immense pressure from Democrats.

Gaza will also be a defining issue

Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas war has divided many Democrats, with young voters overwhelmingly opposed to US support for Israel.

The administration's actions have contributed to Biden's increased vulnerability in swing states. Young voters have responded to the conflict through high-profile demonstrations on college campuses and universities across the country — notably at Columbia University in New York, where an encampment on the Ivy League campus drew international attention for the intensity of student protests against the war. (The encampment was disbanded earlier this week.)

In Michigan, which was won by Trump in 2016 before flipping to Biden in 2020, the incumbent president continues to face intense backlash from the state's sizable Arab-American population — as well as many base Democrats — over Gaza.

For months, many of these voters have called for a permanent cease-fire, and some have withheld their support of Biden in the Democratic primaries over the issue. In February, over 100,000 Michigan primary voters selected "uncommitted" rather than vote for the president. Many of these voters backed Biden in 2020 but say their support of the president is not guaranteed in November.

It's a scenario proving difficult for Biden as he works to navigate one of the defining foreign policy issues of the moment while responding to voter frustration and anger over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

And it could very well decide the outcome of the election.

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