Trump and Biden
Joe Biden and Donald Trump AFP

President Joe Biden achieved his highest rating to date in a Bloomberg News/Morning Consult tracking poll of battleground states, despite voters' harsh criticism of his debate performance and growing unease within his party.

The poll shows a close race between Biden and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, who is leading by just 2 percentage points, 47% to 45%, in the crucial states needed for the upcoming November election. This marks the narrowest gap since the poll's inception last October.

Biden currently leads Trump in Michigan and Wisconsin and is within the poll's margin of error in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and North Carolina. However, he lags furthest behind in Pennsylvania.

However, the poll reflects a significant challenge for Biden, with fewer than one in five swing-state voters considering him the more coherent, mentally fit, or dominant debate participant.

The survey indicates substantial voter apprehensions about Biden, particularly regarding his age and mental sharpness. Nearly 30% of Democrats believe Biden should exit the race, a significantly higher percentage than the 9% of Republicans who think Trump should do the same.

The poll presents a slightly more favorable picture for Biden compared to some recent national polls, which showed a decline in his standing. Political analyst Eli Yokley of Morning Consult noted that while concerns about Biden's mental acuity have increased slightly, the overall level of concern remains consistent with previous perceptions, suggesting the issue was already considered by many voters.

Biden has remained steadfast in his campaign, downplaying the impact of his debate performance. In an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Biden attributed his performance to exhaustion and a failure to heed his instincts in preparation.

Biden's campaign and Democratic allies have recently outspent Republicans 5-to-1 in swing-state advertising, potentially influencing voter perspectives. The poll, which began four days after the debate, provided voters additional time to assess Biden's performance. It coincided with the Supreme Court's decision to grant Trump immunity for criminal acts committed as part of his "official responsibilities," elevating democracy to one of the top concerns among swing-state voters alongside immigration, climate change, abortion, and health care.

While debates rarely alter the trajectory of a race significantly, this early edition could still influence undecided voters. Among swing-state voters who watched the entire debate, 52% felt Trump exceeded expectations, compared to 13% for Biden. The poll found only 39% of swing-state voters believe Biden should continue his campaign, while 50% think Trump should.

Concerns about Biden's age persist, with 85% of respondents in the latest poll describing him as too old, a sentiment echoed since February. Biden's age-related worries are a key issue for some voters, like Ally Ruesch from Wisconsin, who expressed a desire for different options.

Trump faces his own challenges, with 62% of voters viewing him as dangerous, up from 59% in February. This follows his conviction on 34 counts of falsifying business records. The poll reflects Biden's narrowed gap among independents, showing a tie with Trump among swing-state independents, a significant improvement from May.

Biden's path to victory is tight, heavily reliant on Pennsylvania. Despite trailing by 7 percentage points in this pivotal state, his campaign remains focused on countering Trump's concentrated attacks there. Voters like Eric Bown from Pennsylvania, however, express deep concerns about Biden's ability to serve another term, underscoring the critical nature of the upcoming election.

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