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Analysis

Why Joe Biden is winning

Joe Biden is up in the polls, especially with women and young people.
Joe Biden is up in the polls, especially with women and young people.Matt Slocum/Associated Press

At this point, in late June, there is no argument that Joe Biden is currently winning the presidential race. He is on track to be the next president. He has led every head-to-head national poll against President Trump since March, when the general election essentially kicked off.

In fact, during this three-month period, his lead in public polling has grown from an average of 6 points to over 10 points today. Biden’s largest lead in a single poll all year was in the latest one: a 14 point lead in a New York Times/Siena College poll released Tuesday.

Of course, the presidential election is a state-by-state process driven by the Electoral College, so national polls are only a guidepost. That said, Biden also is strong in each individual swing state. He is currently ahead in nine swing states (Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Arizona, and New Hampshire) according to polling. Additionally, the two most recent polls in Texas show the race tied there, a place that last voted for a Democrat for president 44 years ago.

If the election were held today, Biden could win in a rout.

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Here is the good news for Team Trump: the election is over four months away and anything can change. Case in point: Biden’s national lead is only a few ticks higher than Hillary Clinton’s lead over Trump during this same week four years ago.

What’s less explored is why Biden is winning. There are few reasons that stand out, particularly these three.

Women and young people are driving Biden’s lead

If Biden’s support among both women and young people was not so overwhelming, he would not be winning.

There has long been a gender gap in American politics and Biden is losing men to Trump by 6 points on average. But in recent polls, Biden’s lead among women is around 25 points, an improvement from the 19 point lead he had among women earlier in the year. For context, in the final survey before the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton was only winning women by 15 points.

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The two times a presidential candidate had a 25-point lead among women was in Richard Nixon’s blowout win in 1972 and Lyndon B. Johnson’s landslide in 1964.

And then there are young people. They particularly stand out in the latest NYT/Siena poll. The poll clumps respondents into four groups: Biden wins those 65 years old and older by 2 points, Trump wins the 50 to 64 range by a single point, and then Biden has a huge lead among anyone under 50. Among those aged 35 to 49, Biden is up 23 points and in the 18 to 34 group, Biden’s lead is 34 percent.

Trump is particularly unpopular right now

With the lack of a strong third-party candidate, the 2020 race is basically binary: if a voter decides not to vote for Trump, that only leaves one other option.

Lately, Trump is particularly unpopular. His net approval has dropped 10 points since March, just as Biden’s lead has grown by nearly as much, according to the Real Clear Politics average.

There is not just one reason for this decline in his poll numbers, but there also doesn’t appear to be any light at the end of the tunnel either. The pandemic marches on, the economy is still in the tank, and deep and wide calls for racial justice and police reform continue.

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Biden in the basement is ideal for him

One thing that Trump is particularly good at politically is creating foils. It is one reason why Republican leaders fear that they will become his target, and thus they fall in line or go silent.

The problem for Trump is that during the last three months, Biden has been an elusive target. Unlike a battle with Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee, Trump doesn’t have a clean campaign against socialism. Unlike with Clinton, there’s not a deep well of anti-Biden hate out there. It was notable that during Trump’s rally in Tulsa last weekend that the crowd jeered Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar more than they did Biden.

Even one of Biden’s biggest problems politically —that he is a gaffe machine — has been largely hidden because almost all public appearances are in a controlled video environment and not out on the campaign trail.

In the meantime, Trump is giving his detractors a lot to work with, including his “drink bleach” press conference and his brutal takeover of Lafayette Park for a photo op outside of a church.


James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell.