PICT Joe Biden, Donald Trump

Are polls and the President's approval rating true indicators for 2024? 

Joe Biden, Donald Trump
Alex Gonzalez

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Recent polling from The New York Times and Siena College found President Biden trailing former President Donald Trump in five of the six most crucial battleground states, one of which is Arizona. 

In the Grand Canyon state Trump leads Biden by five-percentage points. 

Elaine Kamarck, director of the Center for Effective Public Management at the Brookings Institute, said the question is - if polls are showing Biden slipping, compounded with his unfavorable approval rating, does that mean voters won't vote for him and other Democrats in the upcoming election

She said it isn't a simple answer.

"Maybe there is just no relationship between the president's popularity and down ballot voting," said Kamarck. "That voters vote on very different things and maybe because we have a 'president-centric' kind of culture, maybe we just get that wrong all the time."

While The New York Times/Siena College poll comprised just over 3,600 registered voters among all six states, Kamarck said other state-based polls - which struck fear in many Democrats - are composed only of about six hundred participants, which she says likely aren't grasping the entirety of voter's preferences and true attitudes. 

Kamarck said looking at the special elections in 2021, the midterms in 2022, and the most recent set of elections this year, President Biden's unpopularity does not have much to do with democratic votes. 

She contended that Democrats "over performed expectations," in all three years and increased their margins. 

She argued that abortion is a huge motivator for democratic voters. Arizona is among one of several states looking at a possible proposed abortion rights measure on next year's ballot, which could boost Democrat's chances. 

"Where the right to choose is front and center on the agenda, abortion is an incredibly powerful motivator," said Kamarck. "I think in my lifetime in politics which has been pretty long, it is probably the biggest push I've ever seen, really."

Arizona for Abortion Access is supported by a coalition of reproductive rights advocates who are currently working on getting the close to 400,000 signatures from Arizona voters by July of next year. 

Currently, abortions are legal in Arizona up to 15 weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest. The law does have an exception to save the life of a pregnant mother.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.