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Biden Has Lost Little Swing-State Support Following First Debate

Biden holds an advantage over Trump in Michigan and Wisconsin
Getty Images / Morning Consult artwork by Natalie White
July 06, 2024 at 8:45 am UTC

SWING-STATE ANALYSIS

On behalf of Bloomberg News, Morning Consult is conducting a monthly seven-state study in 2024 political swing states to uncover where voters stand on key issues surrounding the presidential election. Read our previous analysis here: May 2024 | April 2024 | March 2024 | Feb. 2024 | Jan. 2024 | Dec. 2023 | Nov. 2023 | Oct. 2023

Key Takeaways

  • While the first 2024 presidential debate appeared to alarm some Democratic leaders, our surveys of swing-state for Bloomberg News show the matter has done little to change the underlying dynamics of the contest.

  • In the aggregate, Biden continues to underperform Trump among each candidate’s respective 2020 voters and their own party bases, while the two presumptive nominees are splitting independent voters almost evenly.

  • Within the individual states, Biden leads former President Donald Trump in Michigan and Wisconsin, cementing several months of slightly improved performance, but has no advantage in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

  • That said, among all swing-state voters, 55% said Biden should not continue his campaign, including 29% of Democrats and 58% of independents, and voters increasingly view each candidate’s vice presidential selection as important.

  • While race dynamics remain relatively stable, the data suggests the public would be amenable to a different Democrat atop the ticket, should Biden ultimately decide to end his campaign.

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All swing states aggregate toplines — April 2024
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All swing states aggregate crosstabs — July 2024
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Arizona toplines — July 2024
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Georgia toplines — July 2024
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Michigan toplines — July 2024
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Nevada toplines — July 2024
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North Carolina toplines — July 2024
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Pennsylvania toplines — July 2024
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Wisconsin toplines — July 2024
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President Joe Biden’s disastrous debate performance last week has hardly changed the lay of the land in key swing states ahead of the November elections, where concerns about his age are persisting and more voters than ever before are putting high importance on the vice presidential candidate.

According to our latest swing-state surveys on behalf of Bloomberg News, Biden leads former President Donald Trump in Michigan and Wisconsin but has no advantage in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Biden leads Trump in Michigan and Wisconsin

Shares of voters in each state who said they would vote for the following if the November 2024 election for U.S. president were held today:
Morning Consult Logo
Surveys conducted monthly from October 2023 to July 2024 among representative samples of at least 437 registered U.S. voters in each state, with unweighted margins of error of +/-3 to +/-5 percentage points for responses shown. Responses of “Would not vote” and “Don’t know/No opinion” not shown.

In the aggregate, Biden continues to underperform Trump among each candidate’s respective 2020 voters and their own party bases, while the two presumptive nominees are splitting independent voters almost evenly.

The lack of a dramatic movement against Biden among voters in key states mirrors what we are seeing at the national level, where the incumbent Democrat’s standing hasn’t changed much since the June 27 match-up amid his $50 million swing-state ad campaign.

While prominent voices in the Democratic Party appeared to have been shaken by Biden’s debate performance, the impact was smaller among swing-state voters, specifically when it comes to their perceptions of Biden’s age and abilities.

More swing-state voters are questioning Biden’s health, mental fitness

Shares of voters who said the following attributes best describe Trump and/or Biden:
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Surveys conducted Feb. 12-20, 2024, and July 1-5, 2024, among representative samples of more than 4,000 registered voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin with an unweighted margin of error of up to +/-5 percentage points. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

A plurality of voters (44%) said Biden is too old when asked about attributes that best characterize either Biden or Trump, matching the share who said the same in February before the president assuaged voters’ concerns about the matter with his well-received State of the Union address. However, far fewer voters perceive Biden as in good health (15%) or mentally fit (23%) when compared with the Republican candidate, driven in good part by declines among Democrats.

Both findings mirror our post-debate research on the wider national electorate, which found that Democrats drove declines in perceptions of Biden’s mental fitness and age when comparing surveys conducted before and after the first 2024 debate.

Despite rather close contests in most of the swing states surveyed, the overall swing-state electorate would like to see Biden end his campaign.

Over half of swing-state voters think Biden should end campaign

Share of voters who said Joe Biden and Donald Trump should continue their campaigns or not
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Survey conducted July 1-5, 2024, among a representative sample of 4,902 registered voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-1 percentage point. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

Among all swing-state voters, 55% said Biden should not continue his campaign, including 29% of Democrats and 58% of independents. When these voters were asked about Trump, they were 10 percentage points less likely to say he should end his bid (45%), with fewer than 1 in 10 Republicans sharing that sentiment. 

Should Biden continue his 2024 bid amid persistent concerns about his age and abilities, the debate also appears to have raised the importance of the vice presidential nominee.

Voters see vice presidential candidates as more important following June debate

Share of voters who said the vice presidential candidate is “much more important” in the 2024 presidential elections than it was in prior cycles because of the candidates’ respective ages
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Surveys conducted monthly from October 2023 to July 2024 among representative samples of registered voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, with unweighted margins of error of +/-1 percentage point.

According to the latest survey, 32% of swing-state voters said the candidates’ respective ages make their running-mate “much more important” to them than it has been in prior presidential elections, up from 24% in our survey conducted in May. Among Democrats, that figure climbed 10 points (from 26% to 36%), along with a 9-point increase among independent voters (24% to 33%).

While Trump has yet to announce his running mate, Biden’s No. 2 — Vice President Kamala Harris — is notably less disliked than the two ticket-toppers across the swing-state map. 

Harris is less disliked than Biden and Trump across the swing-state map

Shares of voters in each state with favorable or unfavorable views of the following:
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Survey conducted July 1-5, 2024, among a representative sample of 4,902 registered voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-1 percentage point. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

In the aggregate, 53% of swing-state voters hold unfavorable views of Harris, compared with 56% who said the same of Biden and 55% of Trump. Harris has the largest popularity advantage over Trump in Michigan and Nevada, the latter of which is begging for improved Democratic standing should the party ultimately need to win it in November.

The bottom line

While the first 2024 presidential debate appeared to alarm some Democratic leaders and created an opening for the press to ditch its politeness about discussing Biden’s cognitive abilities, our surveys of swing-state surveys for Bloomberg News — and our national-level data — show the matter has done little to change the underlying dynamics of the contest. 

While Biden is still underperforming Trump, the newfound vocal alarm from those in his party has been met by a more modest growth in concern among the electorate, suggesting the age matter was already baked into many voters’ calculus; the main difference now is voters’ renewed emphasis on each candidate’s vice presidential selections as the race moves forward.

A headshot photograph of Eli Yokley
Eli Yokley
U.S. Politics Analyst

Eli Yokley is Morning Consult’s U.S. politics analyst. Eli joined Morning Consult in 2016 from Roll Call, where he reported on House and Senate campaigns after five years of covering state-level politics in the Show Me State while studying at the University of Missouri in Columbia, including contributions to The New York Times, Politico and The Daily Beast. Follow him on Twitter @eyokley. Interested in connecting with Eli to discuss his analysis or for a media engagement or speaking opportunity? Email [email protected].

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