New York Times Poll Shows Trump's Lead Growing Since Debate

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump enters at a campaign event, June 18, 2024, in Racine, Wis.
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump enters at a campaign event, June 18, 2024, in Racine, Wis. via Associated Press

The first New York Times/Siena College poll since President Joe Biden’s alarming debate performance shows former President Donald Trump leading Biden and up three points in just a week, as concerns mount about Biden’s age and his ability to win a second term.

The poll, released Wednesday, was one of the first major surveys of the race since last Thursday’s debate. It has Trump beating Biden 49% to 43% among likely voters nationally, the largest lead that Trump has registered in a Times poll since 2015. Trump’s margin increased among both likely and registered voters by three points since the debate; he now leads registered voters 49% to 41%.

The president, 81, has doubled down on staying in the race amid criticism that Thursday’s debate exposed him as too old and frail to serve another four years, let alone win the election. Biden told allies on a call Wednesday that he intends to stay in the race no matter what, even as Democrats have continued to sound alarms about his candidacy.

Biden’s campaign pollster pushed back on the idea that a bad showing in the Times poll four months from the election means Biden can’t still win. The Times’ own chief political analyst, Nate Cohn, also argued the results do no reveal a fundamental shift in the race.

“Both internal and outside polling confirm that the race remains incredibly tight and I agree with the Times that today’s polling doesn’t fundamentally change the course of the race,” Biden campaign pollster Molly Murphy said in a statement. Murphy also emphasized a bright spot for Biden in the poll: that he continues to chip away at Trump’s support among independents.

The Times poll isn’t the only bad news for the president’s campaign since the debate, during which he appeared confused at times and struggled to answer questions clearly.  A CBS News poll released Wednesday showed Trump leading Biden by two points nationally and three points across battleground states.

Both polls pointed to widespread and growing concern about Biden’s age. The Times poll found the percentage of voters who view Biden as too old to be president was up five points since the debate, to 74% of voters. Meanwhile, 42% of voters view Trump, 78, as too old.

Another poll from CNN released this week found that most voters feel Democrats have a better shot at winning the presidency if the party selects another nominee. The same poll also found Vice President Kamala Harris doing slightly better than Biden in a head-to-head against Trump, though both matchups were within the poll’s margin of error.

The Times/Siena College polled 1,532 registered voters, from June 28, the day after the debate, through July 2, via telephone.

Even as a pair of congressional Democrats have called on Biden to step down, and others openly speculated he would lose to Trump if he stayed in, Biden was defiant during a call with staff on Wednesday. 

“I’m the nominee of the Democratic Party,” Biden reportedly said. “No one’s pushing me out. I’m not leaving.”