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Trump widens lead after Biden’s poor debate performance, NY Times/Siena poll finds

Former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden participate in their first U.S. presidential campaign debate in Atlanta June 27, 2024. (OSV News photo/Brian Snyder, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (OSV News) — Former President Donald Trump widened his lead over President Joe Biden in the 2024 presidential race after the incumbent delivered a poor debate performance that raised questions about his ability to remain the presumptive Democratic nominee amid concerns over his age, a new poll from The New York Times and Siena College, a Franciscan-run school in Loudonville, New York, showed.

Following the debate, Trump, 78, now leads Biden, 81, by 49% to 43% among likely voters nationally, a three-point swing toward the presumptive Republican from the same poll conducted the week prior to the debate. The finding marks Trump’s largest lead recorded in a Times/Siena poll since 2015. Among registered voters, Trump led 49% to 41%.

The poll’s margin of sampling error among registered voters is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points. It was conducted among 1,532 registered voters from June 28 to July 2 and marks voter’s reaction to the first presidential debate.

Don Levy, director of the Siena College Research Institute, told OSV News in an interview that their poll was designed to “see whether the debate had an impact on voters.”

Just about a month from the convention, Levy noted, “virtually half of his own party of an incumbent president is saying they would prefer someone else,” citing the poll’s finding that nearly half of Democrats replied that someone else should be their party’s nominee.

But the poll showed warning signs for Trump as well, Levy said, finding that “well over half of voters are saying (Trump) committed serious crimes” and more than half who said that he “lacks the personality and temperament to be president.”

“So Trump, in effect within the poll, gained by holding even,” Levy said. “He didn’t enhance his reputation with voters, but Biden certainly hurt his.”

But the poll, Levy said, “supports the current view that Trump has pulled ahead, and Biden needs to change the tenor of the race, if indeed, he’s going to remain involved. And that’s going to be really hard at this point.”

The outcome of the poll was expected by the Biden campaign, which told allies in a memo prior to its release that it was “likely to show a slightly larger swing in the race,” Politico reported.

“We should all keep in mind that, just last week, the NYT themselves acknowledged that they are often a polling outlier,” the memo said.

The results of the NYT/Siena poll were not an outlier: polls by The Wall Street Journal and CNN showed a similar lead for Trump among registered voters, 48% to 42% and 49% to 43% respectively.

The poll comes as Biden deals with the aftermath of his poor debate performance and mounting pressure for him to withdraw and let Democrats nominate another standard-bearer to face Trump in November.

The poll also found voters’ concerns about Biden’s age and ability to do the job have grown since the debate, with 74% of voters saying they view him as too old for the job, up five percentage points since the debate.

Biden’s campaign and his White House have denied he will end his candidacy. AP reported Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris joined an all-staff campaign call July 3 to say they will fight for reelection.

“Let me say this as clearly as I possibly can — as simply and straightforward as I can: I am running … no one’s pushing me out. I’m not leaving. I’m in this race to the end and we’re going to win,” Biden said on the call.

Biden is scheduled to do a sit-down interview with ABC News July 5, for his first television interview after the debate.

Biden will speak with “Good Morning America” and “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos. The network said a “first look” at the interview will air on the July 5 edition of “World News Tonight with David Muir” and the extended interview will air July 7 on “This Week” and the following Monday’s episode of “Good Morning America.”

Kate Scanlon is a national reporter for OSV News covering Washington. Follow her on X (formerly Twitter) @kgscanlon.

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