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White House frustrated as Biden lags behind Trump in polls

By Jake Beardslee · December 24, 2023

In brief…

  • Biden holding meetings with advisers to discuss messaging, spotlight accomplishments
  • Some polls concerning, like Biden down with voters under 30 after big 2020 win with them
  • Allies say focus on negative polls hurts; Tester says polls don't mean much now
  • Team aims to damage Trump as choice crystallizes; Van Hollen expects clear contrast
Despite economic gains, White House frustrated by Biden lagging Trump in polls and strategizing on messaging to spotlight accomplishments and sharpen contrasts with the former president.  Joe Biden: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (source: Joe Biden); User:TDKR Chicago 101 (clipping)Donald Trump: Shealah Craighead (source: White House)Сombination: krassotkin/Wikimedia

With the economy growing and unemployment near historic lows, frustration is mounting within President Biden’s administration that he continues to trail former President Trump in polls. Biden has convened meetings with advisers to discuss messaging and how to spotlight his accomplishments, hoping to reverse his low approval ratings.

Sources told The Hill there is “deep frustration” over Biden’s poor polling, but it does not reflect panic. “The meetings are intended to discuss messaging on his age and his accomplishments. There has been concern among his inner circle that the messaging has not been strong or consistent enough to break through with the public,” said a Biden ally.

The White House argues polls this far from the election are meaningless and that once voters compare Biden with Trump, things will improve. But some polls alarm them, like one showing Biden down 6 points with voters under 30, after winning them by over 20 points in 2020.

Allies think disproportionate media focus on negative polls hurts. Senator Jon Tester said polls don’t necessarily mean much now. Senator Elizabeth Warren is confident of a Biden win but unsure why he is polling poorly.

Many expect the 2024 choice between Biden and Trump will crystallize the race. Senator Chris Van Hollen said to The Hill, “I think the choices are going to be Donald Trump and Joe Biden and I think that will crystal people’s thinking, as the president often says — don’t compare me to the almighty, compare me to the alternative.”