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Trump’s slim lead over Biden evaporates as the first criminal trial gets underway

A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows that former President Donald TrumpTrump’s slim lead over President Biden has evaporated as the first of Trump’s four criminal trials finally gets underway this week — putting the two parties’ presumptive 2024 nominees at 44% each heading into the general election.

Last month, Trump narrowly led Biden by 46% to 44% among registered voters. At the end of January, Trump was ahead 45% to 44%. Both results were within the poll’s margin of error — meaning Trump and Biden have been on roughly equal footing statistically for some time.

Still the newest Yahoo News/YouGov’s tighter margin reflects a larger trend that shows modest improvement for Biden in national surveys conducted since his State of the Union address in March.

It could also underscore the challenge Trump — a candidate who has never won more than 47% of the national vote — faces in boosting his support at a time when he could become the first convicted felon in U.S. history leading a major party’s presidential elections. ticket.

When asked which candidate they would vote for “if Trump is convicted of a serious crime in the coming months,” only 36% of voters now say the former president — down from 40% in March, and fewer than ever before.

Biden’s support rises by 1 point to 45% in that scenario, giving him a 9-point lead.

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To put this hypothetical shift into perspective, a large majority of Americans are considering each of the top charges against Trump – “falsifying company records to conceal hush money payments to a porn star” (57%); “taking highly classified White House documents and obstructing efforts to retrieve them” (69%); “attempts to obstruct the certification of presidential elections” (69%); and “conspiracy to overturn the results of the presidential election” (73%) – as “serious crimes.”

And those numbers have increased.

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Biden remains vulnerable in terms of age and economy

The new Yahoo News/YouGov survey of 1,746 U.S. adults, conducted April 11 to 15, continues to show major vulnerabilities for Biden.

For example, only 40% of Americans approve of the job he has done as president, while 54% disapprove – statistically unchanged from previous surveys. No other modern president – ​​including Trump – has registered such a low approval rating at this stage of his presidency.

Trump also continues to enjoy a large lead over Biden in perceived age and suitability for the presidency. When asked about each candidate individually, more Americans say Trump accomplished “a lot” as president (39%) than say the same about Biden (28%); There are also more who say Trump is “fit to be president” (41%) than say so about Biden (29%). Nearly two-thirds of Americans (65%) say 81-year-old Biden is “too old for another term as president”; only 36% say Trump, 77, is too old.

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The post-pandemic US economy is steadily improving, but these improvements are not helping the incumbent economy. Instead, a majority of Americans still believe economic conditions are worsening (51%) – up from 46% in December – rather than getting better (21%). And while Democrats are divided on the economy (54% rate it as excellent or good and 43% rate it as fair or poor), few independents (20% excellent/good, 75% fair/poor) or Republicans ( 15% excellent/good). , 83% fair/poor) gives it positive marks.

Perhaps worst of all for Biden and the Democrats is the trend line in perceived inflation. The number of Americans saying things are “getting worse” has risen 5 points since March to 61%, surpassing the previous record of 60% set in September 2022, while the number saying inflation is “getting better” over the same period has fallen. period from 17% to 14% – the lowest figure since 13% in September 2022.

In reality, US inflation has fallen from 8.2% in September 2022 to 3.5% today.

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How a Trump conviction could change the race

But the bad news for Trump is that when Americans are forced to choose the bigger issue regarding “their fitness to run for president,” more point to Trump’s criminal charges (40%) than to Biden’s age (38%) . And while the share of Americans who cite Biden’s age as the bigger problem is declining (from 41% in March), the share who see Trump’s criminal charges as the bigger problem appears to be holding steady as his legal issues take center stage.

Ultimately, a whopping 57% of Americans now say Trump should not serve again if convicted of a serious crime; only 29% say he will be allowed to serve again. Last month those figures were 55% and 31% respectively.


The Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,746 U.S. adults interviewed online from April 11 to April 15, 2024. The sample was weighted by gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential election, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. The demographic weighting targets are from the 2019 American Community Survey. Basic party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer, given before November 1, 2022, and is weighted by the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 27% Republican) . Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. adults. The margin of error is approximately 2.6%.

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