Frustrated by higher prices, an influx of illegal immigrants, and global instability, and unconvinced that an elderly President Biden could fix these problems, voters cleared a path for former President Donald Trump to return to the White House.

Or, concerned about the perceived threat Trump poses to democracy, the rule of law, and abortion rights, voters again rejected his “MAGA” movement at the ballot box, choosing four more years of Biden.

These are currently the most likely outcomes of the next presidential election.

In each case, the result has less to do with each candidate’s strengths than with their opponent’s weaknesses.


That’s because, according to a batch of recent surveys, the American electorate is miserable — 72% of voters think the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Majorities view both of the leading candidates unfavorably.

And voters are unusually excited about someone else leading the nation, with roughly one in five giving their support to a named third-party candidate.

In the first Fox News Power Rankings for the presidential election, neither Biden nor Trump has enough electoral college votes to win the next election.

Trump has a small lead, thanks to Biden’s weak support among key groups in the coalition that led him to victory in 2020.

With so many voters feeling negatively about the country and its future, the winner of the next election is less likely to be the “best” candidate than they are the “least bad” option.

Biden’s weaknesses: age, issues and enthusiasm

Biden heads into the election with weak polling numbers.

In a collection of polls released over the weekend, he trails Trump 49-47% (Fox News), 47-45% (WSJ), and 48-43% (New York Times/Siena).


Those results all show a tight race. 

It’s inside those polls where the bad news for Biden kicks in. 

Voters think Biden is too old:

  • 62% of voters say Biden lacks the mental soundness to serve effectively as president (Fox).
  • 73% of voters say the phrase “too old to run for president” describes Biden well (WSJ).

Democrats complain that Trump is also old, and has shown signs of mental deterioration, but there is no equivalence in the polling. 

The former president has a 10-point advantage over Biden on mental soundness and a 21-point advantage on whether he’s “too old.”

Biden’s losing on the issues:

  • In polls released this weekend, an average of 60% of voters disapprove of Biden.
  • Two thirds of voters disapprove of his handling of inflation, immigration and the war between Israel and Hamas (Fox).

His second in command, Kamala Harris, fares no better. 58% of voters disapprove of her performance in the latest Fox survey. That includes 30% of Black voters and 22% of Democrats.

Biden’s voters aren’t enthusiastic about him:

With no serious competition in the race, Biden has swept the Democratic primaries. But according to the Times survey, 26% of voters in his party say they’re dissatisfied that he will become the nominee, and 6% are angry about it.

Only 9% of Republicans are dissatisfied with Trump, with another 9% angry.

Biden has bigger problems with the overall electorate, as the latest Fox survey revealed:

  • 28% of Black voters support Trump in the head-to-head against Biden, 7 times as many who supported him four years ago (4% in February 2020).
  • Trump has significant support among voters under age 30 (51%).
  • And near-record support among Hispanics (48%) and suburban women (43%).

All these groups were essential to Biden’s victory in 2020.

Democratic strategists are skeptical that these groups will remain as supportive of Trump in November as they are now. They say their voters are worried about Biden’s weaknesses today, but will “come back home” when they realize this election is a binary choice between him and Trump.

That theory is supported by electoral history, but if they are wrong, the math for Biden gets very difficult.

Trump’s weaknesses: a support ceiling, legal problems and abortion rights

If Biden’s numbers are so weak, why isn’t Trump’s lead bigger?

Primarily, it’s because Trump brings a lot of baggage to the race.

More voters remember the former president’s policies fondly than they think about Biden’s policies today: 40% say Trump’s policies helped them personally, while only 18% say the same about the current president (NYT/Siena).

But Trump also brought dysfunction to the White House, culminating in attempts to overturn the results of the last election and a riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Those factors are all ‘priced in’ to Trump’s support, which is why he sits under 50% in most major polls.

As Arnon Mishkin wrote last week, “About 47% (almost half) of the country supports Trump – and that number doesn’t move. The remaining roughly 53% (a bit more than half) are not supporting him – and there are few if any indications that they could move in his direction.”

Trump’s legal problems could get worse:

Trump is still dealing with these legal problems, and a conviction (or multiple convictions) would weaken his prospects of reelection.

  • Today, 53% of voters believe Trump has committed serious federal crimes (NYT).
  • If Trump is convicted of a felony in either the classified documents or January 6 federal crimes case, 48% of voters say they would vote for Biden and 44% say they would vote for Trump (WSJ).

He also continues to direct money from his fundraising efforts towards his legal bills, at a time when the Biden campaign and the DNC have significant cash advantages over Trump and the RNC.

Most voters support abortion rights:

Polls that ask about Trump’s policies miss an important part of the Democratic platform in 2024 – the fall of Roe v. Wade.

It happened under Biden, but it was a result of Trump’s appointments to the Supreme Court.

60% of voters say abortion should be legal in all or most cases (WSJ).

Division among Republicans about the role of the federal government in restricting abortion rights and state referenda will ensure that this issue remains in the conversation.

A year of unknowns

As this column has discussed, a majority of voters think Biden is too old and that Trump has committed serious crimes.

What if Biden suffers from a serious health incident?

What if Trump is convicted of a crime and cannot be pardoned?

These are remote possibilities, but they have a greater-than-zero-percent chance of happening in an already unprecedented election cycle.

There are also multiple declared third-party candidates, including Robert F. Kennedy, who pulled double-digit support in the latest Fox survey with about eight months to go until the election. 


A “No Labels” candidate could also pull votes from the major parties.

And foreign conflict may play a role. Voters were not thinking much about Ukraine or Israel before the last election, but they are now, and U.S. adversaries like China and Russia also loom over 2024.

There are no guarantees about the shape of this race until November 5. 

Trump has a small lead in the race to 270

In the first Power Rankings for this presidential cycle, Trump leads Biden in the electoral college with 251 votes to Biden’s 241.

How do the Power Rankings work?

The winner of the presidential election is the candidate who reaches 270 electoral college votes. 

The Power Rankings are a forecast using national and state polling, along with fundamentals, to assign states into categories. 

If a state is labeled “D” or “R,” its electoral college votes are added to the corresponding candidate’s tally. “Toss Up” states are too close to call.

A state in the middle categories; “Lean D, “Toss Up,” or “Lean R,” should be considered very competitive. These are the states most likely to change categories as the election nears.

Eight key battleground states

There are eight battleground states in these rankings: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Keep an eye on Florida, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, Texas and Virginia. These states are somewhat competitive.

Four toss-up states are fiercely competitive


Biden was the first Democrat to win a presidential election in Arizona since 1996, but he won it on a tight margin, and it remains one of the most competitive states of the 2024 election.

The southwestern state is home to a large population of Hispanic voters, who still lean Democratic but have shown near-record support for Trump in recent surveys, and suburban voters, who have previously been a bulwark for Biden but haven’t shown strong support for him so far this cycle.

Arizona is also at the center of two important policy debates.

Since Arizona shares a border with Mexico, its residents have seen firsthand the results of Biden’s border crisis, an issue that should favor Trump.

Meanwhile, pro-choice activists are collecting signatures to place an abortion rights measure on the ballot, which could improve Democratic turnout.

Arizona is a toss-up.


Nevada hosts large working-class and Hispanic populations.

Many of these folks work in the heavily unionized hospitality industry, based in Las Vegas, and these voters swing Democratic.

Activating those voters has therefore given the left a turnout advantage since the late 2000s. (If you’ve ever heard of the “Reid Machine,” it’s referring to the late U.S. Senate leader from Nevada, Harry Reid.)

But the working class isn’t as Democratic as it used to be, and that has meant narrower margins for the left.

In 2022, the state’s largest teachers union declined to endorse Nevada’s incumbent Democratic governor, a body blow that resulted in a gubernatorial flip.

This state is a toss-up.


On the other side of the country lies Pennsylvania, tied at fifth for the highest number of electoral college votes in the country.

It contains some of the deepest blue and deepest red voters.

The major cities, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, bookend the state. They are home to scores of heavily Democratic urban voters and wealthy, college-educated suburban voters. Both groups gave Biden his victory in 2020.

In the middle lies dozens of predominantly White rural communities that are the core of Trump’s base. Places like Fulton County and Bedford County, in the south central part of the state, is where Trump got over 80% of the vote in 2020.

Those voters show up for the former president when he’s on the ballot.

Pennsylvania is a toss-up.


Wisconsin offers similar dynamics.

White non-college voters swept Trump to victory here in 2016. Biden reclaimed the state in 2020, but a majority in that group continued to support Trump.

Biden will hope to make up the difference again by turning out minority and suburban voters.

In a Fox News survey from late January, Wisconsin was tied up at 47% a piece.

This state is a toss-up.

Biden has a small advantage in two Midwestern states


Trump pulled off a surprise victory in 2016 in Michigan, but since then, it’s been all blue.

Biden won the state by a 3-point margin in 2020, and two years later, Democrats took full control of the state government for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Speaking of, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will be a strong surrogate for Biden on the campaign trail. She remains popular in her home state and has been an effective Democratic communicator on “MAGA” and abortion.

The GOP also has organizational and down-ballot problems in Michigan; just last week, the party was planning two dueling state conventions to allocate delegates from its presidential primary.

Biden got a taste of his issues with progressives in the state last week with a strong showing for “uncommitted” in the Democratic presidential primary, and he will need to retain support with Detroit and suburban area voters to win.

But this state starts at Lean D.


Biden also starts the election season with an advantage in Minnesota.

The state has gotten closer in recent cycles, mostly because the White working-class and agricultural vote has drifted away from the Democrats.

Biden’s energy and environmental policies will be a contributing factor here.

But Biden won it by a 7-point margin in 2020, making it a tough reach for the GOP.

Minnesota is Lean D.

Trump has a small advantage in two southeastern battlegrounds


Georgia’s population growth has come from urban areas like Atlanta, which overwhelmingly leans blue.


Add suburban voters from the Atlanta metro area, which includes areas like DeKalb County and Gwinnett County, and Biden eked out a victory in 2020.

But Democrats’ very heavy reliance on those voter groups gives Trump a slight advantage here.

In January, 51% of voters said they supported Trump in a Fox survey, compared to 43% for Biden.

This state Leans R.

North Carolina

The fundamentals still favor Trump in North Carolina.

But the state gained wealthy, urban Americans from other states during the COVID-19 pandemic and is home to increasingly populated suburban and college areas as well.

Trump endorsed Lt. Gov Mark Robinson there last week; his views on abortion and gay relationships will be a lightning rod for the left.

If Biden can expand the map in November, this would be the first state to fall into his column.

North Carolina is a Lean R state.

Florida, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, Texas, and Virginia are also competitive.

8 months until the general election

Super Tuesday is over, and both candidates are close to becoming their parties’ presumptive nominees, so attention now turns to the general election.


With 244 days to go until election day, this will be the longest campaign voters have seen in decades.

On Thursday, Biden will deliver the final State of the Union speech of his first term in office. Watch Fox News Channel for live coverage anchored by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.

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