Biden tries to shore up support as numbers continue to sour

Image of Joe Biden: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ. Image of Donald Trump: Shealah Craighead for White House. Сombination: Wiki Commons user krassotkin.

Listen to this story (9 minutes)

  • “It's hard to imagine a path to 270 (electoral votes) for Trump without North Carolina."

All eyes are fixated on former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial, which got underway this week in New York City. Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records for alleged hush money payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election. 

President Joe Biden’s campaign said they wouldn’t comment on the trial, other than Biden making a flippant comment last week at a campaign stop in Pennsylvania that Trump was “busy right now.”

But Biden is “busy right now,” too, looking to shore up support as recent polling paints a dour picture of his popularity. The Biden campaign is hiring hundreds of staffers and opening 100 offices across nine battleground states, including ten in North Carolina. 

In his home state of Pennsylvania, he has opened 24 offices. The state has 19 electoral votes, which is crucial to a win for Biden.

The Biden-Harris campaign has also made multiple stops in North Carolina in the last several weeks. Biden kicked it off in January at a stop where Carolina Journal was denied access to the event. Harris made a stop individually in March and April, and the pair paid Raleigh a visit in March.

Andy Taylor, professor of political science at NC State University, told Carolina Journal in a phone interview Wednesday that as long as Biden has the resources, they will test the waters in North Carolina to see if anything happens.

“I think there’s also an effort here (in North Carolina) at this stage, given that Biden clearly has financial advantages in fundraising, to sort of demonstrate that and suggests that Trump is slipping,” he said. “Create a narrative that Trump’s support is eroding a little bit, and again, this all contributes to that basic narrative. You’re sort of preening around, flexing your muscles, and that might be something that’s going on here with Biden as well. This conveys strength; if it doesn’t convey savvy strategy, at the very least, it conveys brute strength.” 

While there is no word on whether the Biden campaign will open more offices in North Carolina, one thing is certain – Biden has a popularity problem. The correlation between the Tar Heel State and the Keystone State more than shows it.

A recent Carolina Journal poll showed 43% of voters said they would vote for former President Donald Trump, compared to 39% support for sitting President Joe Biden.

Union workers in New York City showing support for President Donald Trump, April 25, 2024. Source: Karoline Leavitt, Trump 2024 National Press Secretary X page.

Trump received more good news Wednesday as a Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll of swing states shows Trump leading in six of the seven states, including North Carolina, with a ten-point lead at 51% compared to 41% for Biden. An article from Bloomberg states that any gains Biden made against Trump have vanished over deep economic pessimism. 

That pessimism includes the news on Thursday that America’s economy grew at its slowest pace in nearly two years as inflation rose far more than Wall Street expected. The Bureau of Economic Analysis report of the latest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reading showed the economy grew at an annualized pace of just 1.6% for the first quarter of this year, missing the expected mark of 2.5%. The news sent the stock market tumbling, with worries of stagflation, which is characterized by a decrease in economic growth (stagnation), an increase in inflation, and an increase in unemployment.

The personal consumption expenditures index also rose faster than expected in March. It showed that consumer prices rose 0.3% from the previous month, according to the Labor Department. On an annual basis, prices climbed 2.7% – higher than the 2.6% forecast from the London Stock Exchange (LSEG) economists and the 2.5% reading recorded the previous month.

Core prices, excluding food and energy, climbed 0.3% from the previous month and 2.8% of the prior year. Those figures are both higher than what was seen last month.

Biden’s own hometown loses enthusiasm over native son

Biden’s recent visit to his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was met with a petition to change two roads named for the current president back to their original names. The change was made in 2021, shortly after Biden became president. Many say they are fed up with Biden, who moved away to Delaware with his family when he was ten years old. The city, dubbed the “Electric City,” is heavily taxed, including having the third highest earned income tax rate in Pennsylvania.

In addition to enthusiasm for Biden shrinking in his hometown, it’s also shrinking among younger voters, including those in North Carolina. 

recent poll showed his approval rating has dropped to 43% among people under 30. The North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE) reported that only 13% of registered voters were made up of 18-25-year-olds in the 2020 election, with 60% of them voting.

Winning North Carolina, which has 16 electoral votes, would be a feather in Biden’s cap if he could pull it off. 

“North Carolina was the only close state that Trump won in 2020, so it is Biden’s only realistic chance to play offense to pick up a new state,” said Andy Jackson, director of the Civitas Center for Public Integrity at the John Locke Foundation. “It also forces the Trump campaign to spend time and resources here instead of the Trump ’16-Biden ’20 states such as Georgia and Wisconsin. However, if Trump continues to lead in the polls in North Carolina and nationally this fall, we can expect the Biden campaign to withdraw from North Carolina as it seeks to build a “blue wall” in the states Biden won in 2020.”

Taylor agrees with Jackson in terms of the “blue wall” for Biden to try to shore up a victory in November.

“If you take the states that Biden flipped right from 2016 to 2020, and obviously, North Carolina isn’t one of them, but if you take those, if he can hold on to the Midwestern states, like Michigan and Wisconsin and also Pennsylvania, even if he loses Arizona and Georgia, he still wins,” Taylor told CJ. “My sense is that’s really where they’re going to try to hold the line.”

Road to White House goes right through North Carolina

Both also agree that Trump needs to win North Carolina to have a clear path to victory in November.

“The visits by Vice President Harris and other administration officials highlight a weakness of the Trump campaign,” Jackson said. “While there are Biden surrogates who can generate media coverage with visits, the Trump campaign really depends on Trump himself to garner attention. As we get into the fall, Trump is going to have to spread himself thin campaigning in the swing states.”

Taylor concurs.

“It’s hard to imagine a path to 270 (electoral votes) for Trump without North Carolina,” he said. “It’s hard for me to believe that he can lose North Carolina and win the election.”