Economy, abortion give Biden slight 2024 edge -Reuters/Ipsos

By Jason Lange and James Oliphant

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The steady U.S. economy and voter anger over threats to abortion rights are buoying Democratic President Joe Biden, but voters are receptive to a host of culture-war issues his Republican rivals are campaigning on, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows.

The Republicans fighting for their party’s nomination to take on Biden in 2024, led by former President Donald Trump and also including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, have emphasized issues such as immigration, public school teaching on gender and sexuality and transgender athletes in youth sports.

Voters appear to be persuadable on some of those issues, the poll showed, while they are finding fault with Republicans for their efforts to restrict abortion.

Biden, 80, is seeking a second term in office, and he has signaled that he plans to run largely on his economic record – particularly low unemployment and public investment in job creation, which he terms “Bidenomics.”

A significant share of voters, 36%, said they expect their personal economic situation to improve next year when asked: “Looking ahead a year from now, do you expect your personal financial situation to be much stronger, somewhat stronger, about the same, somewhat weaker, or much weaker than it is now?” That compared with a total of 20% who expect it to be weaker. Another 38% said they expected it to be about the same and the rest said they did not know. Optimists outnumbered pessimists among Democrats, Republicans and independents.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll gathered responses online from 4,414 U.S. adults July 11-17 and had a credibility interval, a margin of precision, of about 2 percentage points.

“A decline in inflation and decreasing likelihood of recession could deprive Republicans of their most potent argument against Biden and the Democrats heading in to the election,” said Jacob Rubashkin, an independent analyst with Inside Elections in Washington.

Biden led Trump 37% to 35% in a hypothetical matchup, with the remaining 28% saying they were not sure whom to pick or would vote for someone else or no one at all.

Concerns over the loss of abortion rights helped Democrats in last year’s congressional elections, and the poll showed that a majority of voters opposes presidential candidates who favor harsh abortion restrictions.

Some 73% of independents said they were less likely to support a presidential candidate who backs laws banning or severely restricting abortion access, compared with 27% who said they were more likely.

A solid 72% majority of suburban white women – seen by many political strategists as an important demographic – said they were less likely to back an anti-abortion candidate. 

Abortion has already taken a prominent role in ads in battleground states by the Democratic National Committee and a bevy of political fundraising committees that support Biden.

All of the candidates running for the Republican nomination support limiting the procedure in some form, with DeSantis among those who favor the most restrictive measures.

DeSantis recently signed a bill in Florida that bans the practice at six weeks of pregnancy. Both he and Trump supported the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year to end the nationwide right to abortion.


Respondents voiced unease on immigration.

Some 48% of respondents said they agreed with a statement that immigration is making life harder for native-born Americans, compared with 37% who disagreed and the rest who were not sure. The views of independents generally mirrored those of the general population.

Trump and DeSantis have run on hard-right positions on immigration and border security, while the Biden administration has tried to find a middle ground between securing the border and accommodating those with claims of asylum.


DeSantis has premised much of his campaign on what he terms “parents’ rights” issues – opposing the teaching of gender identity to public school students and the participation of transgender girls in school sports.

Some 50% of respondents said they disagreed with a statement that issues related to sex, sexuality and gender identity should be taught in schools, compared with 36% who agreed with the statement and 14% who were not sure. 

Republicans were solidly against teaching gender issues in public schools, with 76% opposed, 20% in favor and the rest unsure. Democratic support was not as solid, with 62% in favor, 28% against and the rest unsure. Independents were less decided, with 49% against teaching gender issues, 27% in support and 24% unsure. 

About half of respondents disagreed with a statement that transgender athletes should be able to participate in children’s sports, compared with 32% who agreed and 16% who were not sure.

Some 57% of independents were against transgender people participating in children’s sports, compared with 77% of Republicans and 31% of Democrats.

Abortion has somewhat more weight in voters’ minds, with 78% of respondents describing the issue as important. Seventy percent described teaching of gender issues in schools that way and 61% saw importance in the issue of transgender athletes in children’s sports.

Analyst Rubashkin said the relative stability of the economy may be one reason why Republicans such as DeSantis are turning more and more to cultural issues to try to reel in swing voters who could swing to either Democrats or Republicans.

“Those are issues where Republicans believe they poll better,” he said, but added that there is “less evidence to suggest that voters will prioritize those issues at the ballot box over the economy and abortion.”

(Reporting by Jason Lange and James Oliphant in Washington; Editing by Scott Malone and Matthew Lewis)