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With nominations decided, Trump leads Biden in US polls; UK Labour far ahead as election approaches

Author: Adrian Beaumont, The University of Melbourne

Joe Biden and Donald Trump have both secured their parties’ nominations for the November 5 United States general election by winning a majority of all delegates to their parties’ conventions, including delegates not yet allocated.

Both Biden and Trump won their nominations easily, with Biden taking 86.4% of the national Democratic primary vote in contests so far, far ahead of the next closest Marianne Williamson with 3.4%.

In the Republican contest, Trump defeated Nikki Haley by 73.4–23.1 in the national popular vote, with the winner takes all/most rules that apply for most Republican contests further benefitting him in delegates.

Conventions that formally elect the nominees will be held in July (for Republicans) and August (Democrats). If either Trump or Biden withdrew prior to the convention, delegates bound to that candidate would need to be persuaded to vote for another candidate. It could be messy to replace either Trump or Biden as the nominee.

By the November 5 general election, Biden will be almost 82 and Trump 78. In the FiveThirtyEight aggregates, Biden’s net approval is -16.8, with 55.4% disapproving and 38.6% approving. Trump’s net favourability is -9.7, with 52.5% unfavourable and 42.8% favourable. Recently both Biden’s and Trump’s ratings have dipped, with Biden’s March 7 State of the Union address making no difference.

Biden’s net approval is worse than for any other president at this stage of their presidency since scientific polling began in Harry Truman’s presidency (1945–53). John F. Kennedy and Gerald Ford were not president for as long as Biden has been.

There isn’t yet a FiveThirtyEight aggregate for general election polls, but, while there are three recent national polls that give Biden one-to-two point leads, the large majority of national polls have Trump ahead, usually by low single-digit margins.

The national popular vote does not decide the presidency. Instead, there are 538 Electoral Votes distributed among the states based mostly on population, and it takes 270 to win. In my previous US politics article in December, I said that this system would probably favour Trump more than the national popular vote margin.

US consumer sentiment surged from 61.3 points in November to 79 in January, the highest it has been since July 2021. In the next two months, consumer sentiment has fallen back a little to 76.5 in March.

The big gains in consumer sentiment were probably due to reduced inflation. However, the latest economic data suggests inflation is increasing again.

Despite the large gain in consumer sentiment, Biden’s ratings in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate have scarcely changed since my December article. This is bad for Biden, as it implies there is something else wrong other than economic sentiment; his age is the obvious answer.

In December I said the two main chances for a Biden revival were improved economic confidence and Trump being convicted. Economic confidence has improved, but without lifting Biden. On the legal front, Trump’s criminal trials all face delays that may push them back until after the election.

The Supreme Court on March 4 unanimously overturned a Colorado court’s decision, so Trump will be on the ballot paper in all states in November.

In the February US jobs report, the unemployment rate increased 0.2% from January to 3.9%. While there were 275,000 jobs created in February, there were large downward revisions to job gains in December and January, resulting in 167,000 fewer jobs in those months than previously reported.

Inflation rose 0.4% in February, up from 0.3% in January and 0.2% in December. Core inflation also rose 0.4% in February (0.4% in January and 0.3% in December).

Real (inflation-adjusted) hourly earnings were down 0.4% in February, though real weekly earnings were flat owing to a gain in weekly hours worked. But there has been a trend towards fewer weekly hours, resulting in a real hourly wage gain of 1.1% in the last 12 months, but only a 0.5% real weekly gain.

The 650 members of the UK House of Commons are elected by first-past-the-post, where the candidate with more votes than any other wins the seat. The UK has five-year terms, and at the December 2019 election Boris Johnson led the Conservatives to a thumping victory.

Much has changed since 2019, with Johnson replaced as PM by Liz Truss in September 2022, then Truss was replaced by Rishi Sunak in October 2022.

Labour has led in UK national polls since late 2021, with their lead blowing out during Truss’ short stint as PM. While the Conservatives recovered some ground under Sunak, they have not been in a competitive position since Johnson was PM.

The Politico Poll of polls currently has Labour on 43%, the Conservatives on 24%, the far-right Reform on 12%, the liberal Liberal Democrats on 10%, the Greens on 5% and the Scottish National Party on 2%. The last two national polls, which were conducted after a scandal involving a Conservative donor accused of racism, gave Labour 23 and 26-point leads.

The Electoral Calculus seat forecast in late February, based on estimated vote shares in polls of 43.1% Labour, 25.2% Conservative, 9.9% Lib Dems, 10.2% Reform, 5.9% Greens and 3.2% SNP, was a massive Labour landslide, with Labour winning 455 of the 650 seats, to 113 Conservatives, 40 Lib Dems and 18 SNP.

The Conservatives have also lost six of the last seven byelections in Conservative-held seats since July 2023, five to Labour and one to the Lib Dems. In many of these losses, there were massive swings.

Sunak can call a general election at any time, but it is likely to be held in late 2024, though it could be delayed until January 2025.

(This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article)