WASHINGTON − President Joe Biden traveled to Philadelphia on Labor Day to court middle-class voters with a speech touting his economic record and boosting unions − just as a new poll found his 2024 reelection bid is in danger precisely over voters’ economic worries.
The Wall Street Journal poll, conducted from Aug. 24 to Aug. 30, found that 59% of voters disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy. Nearly 3 in 4 voters say that inflation “is headed in the wrong direction,” the outlet reported.
Voters overwhelmingly think Biden, who is 80 years old, is too old to run for reelection and only 39% of voters had a favorable view of the president.
Perhaps most worrisome for Biden is that the WSJ’s poll found Biden is statistically tied with former President Donald Trump in a potential 2024 rematch. The findings come as Trump remains the Republican Party front-runner despite facing trial in various federal and state legal cases.
What did Biden say in his speech?
In his speech to the Sheet Metal Workers Local 19 in Philadelphia, Biden knocked Trump’s record on the economy while boasting his administration’s record.
“When the last guy was here, you were shipping jobs to China. Now we’re bringing jobs home from China,” Biden said. “When the last guy was here … your pensions were at risk. We helped save millions of pensions with your help.”
Biden also sought to cast himself as a pro-union and common man president who’s in touch with middle-class workers, noting that “when the last guy was here, he looked at the world from Park Avenue. I look at it from Scranton, Pennsylvania. I look at it from Claymont, Delaware.”
Later in his speech, he noted that “Wall Street didn’t build America. The middle class built America and the union built the middle class.”
Just three days before, Biden had touted his support for union workers in a speech, noting that his administration had raised workers’ pay and helped more workers get good-paying union jobs.
“Even workers who aren’t in unions, even workers who have been laid off see benefits from unions when they’re strong, because unions raise standards across the workforce and industries, pushing up wages and strengthening benefits for everyone,” he said.
2024 odds for Biden and Trump, poll finds
Despite them both being party front-runners, both Biden and Trump are at odds with voters.
For Biden, one of his biggest challenges is age. The Wall Street Journal poll found that about 73% of voters think Biden is too old to run for president while only 47% think Trump is too old. Thirty-six percent of voters think that Biden is mentally up for the job while 46% of voters think Trump is mentally capable of being president.
Even if Biden’s age has not affected his ability to do the job, some members of the public may “believe he is not mentally sharp enough or that he lacks the necessary physical stamina,” Barry Burden, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, previously told USA TODAY.
These concerns stem from reports of Biden falling, sometimes mixing up countries and dates and other blunders.
For Trump, his character is a liability. About 38% of voters think Trump is honest while 45% of voters think Biden is. Forty-eight percent of voters think that Biden is a likable person while 31% of voters think Trump is.
But Trump is still favorable to voters in terms of his policies. About 51% of voters think that Trump had a strong record of accomplishments as president while only 40% of voters think Biden has.
“If this race is about personality and temperament, then Biden has an advantage. If this race is about policies and performance, then Trump has the advantage,” Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio told the Wall Street Journal.