Supporting Biden will give us Trump

Comedic talk show host Jon Stewart, returning to late night TV after a hiatus of 9 years, incurred the wrath of Biden loyalists for suggesting that Joe Biden is as unfit for the Presidency as Donald Trump.

He made it clear he was not talking about any kind of “equivalence” between the two oldest men ever to run for President:“[Biden] hasn’t been indicted as many times, hasn’t had as many fraudulent businesses or been convicted in a civil trial for sexual assault or been ordered to pay defamation, had his charities disbanded, or stiffed a ton of blue-collar tradesman.” Nevertheless, Stewart went on, “What’s crazy is thinking that we’re the ones, as voters, who must silence concerns and criticisms.”

Questioning Biden’s suitability to be the Democratic nominee for President does not imply support for Trump. On the contrary, those who worry most about Trump getting back in should be equally worried about Biden being the candidate to run against him, because if Biden does not withdraw from the race soon, Trump will almost certainly be our next President.

Joe Biden is the least popular President in modern history at this point in his Presidency. As of March 15th, only 38.4% of US adults “approve” of Biden’s performance, according to 538’s rolling average of polling data. That compares with Trump, whose approval rating was 42.9% at this point in his Presidency, and Barack Obama, who was at 48%. Even Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter had approval ratings above 50% at this point in their Presidencies.

There are still nine months to go before the presidential election, and lots can change in that time. But Biden’s recent landslide victories in the South Carolina and Nevada primaries are not an indication of his current popularity nor of his chances at beating Trump.  Indeed, Biden has a next to zero chance of winning South Carolina in November. And he is currently on track to lose to Trump, even in Nevada.

The Presidential election, as we all know, is not decided by who gets the most votes across the country. It is decided by votes in the Electoral College, which are apportioned by state. Biden is more or less guaranteed to win 14 solidly Democratic states, giving him an instant 191 out of 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency. Trump is likewise more or less guaranteed to win 25 solidly Republican states, giving him a head start of 233 Electoral College votes before the counting even begins.

It is in the remaining 11 states where the Presidency will be decided in November. Some of these, like Georgia, are now all but certain to go for Trump in 2024. Maine is also currently on track to hand over all its Electoral College votes to Trump in this election. With these two additional states, Trump would be up to 253 Electoral College votes – already more than he had in 2020 when he lost to Biden.

Other potential “battleground” states in this election include New Hampshire, Virginia, New Mexico, and Minnesota. These all look likely to cast their votes for Biden, which would bring his total Electoral College vote up to 222.

That leaves only five states where this election will be decided: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada and Arizona. Opinion polls show Trump ahead in all of these states right now: Biden was ahead in Pennsylvania just a month ago, but now trails Trump by a margin of 4%(Biden with 44% to Trump’s 48%).  In Nevada, Trump is currently ahead of Biden in the polls by 6%, in Arizona and Wisconsin by 4%, and in Michigan by 2%.

Biden needs to win at least four out of the five “battleground” states (Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Arizona) to retain the White House. As noted above, he is currently behind Trump in the polls in all of those states.

There are, of course, many reasons why Biden is so unpopular with the electorate, and it is not only because of his age. One of them is “the economy, stupid!” Biden continues to brag about the economy: inflation is down, stock market is up, joblessness is down, GDP is up… We’ve never had it so good!

This macro-economic “good news” flies in the face of the reality that so many Americans experience in their own lives, however. Millions of Americans do not see those benefits accruing to them and still struggle to get by from one paycheck to the next. A large portion of Trump’s support comes from those who feel left out and left behind by a status quo that continues to benefit the wealthy few at the expense of everyone else. That doesn’t change just because the price of gas goes down by a few cents or the value of someone’s stock goes up by a few cents.

Another source of disapproval with Biden has been his direct military support for the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, which has already killed an estimated 31,000 Palestinians, many of them women and children. Michigan, one of the key states Biden has to win, has the largest Arab American population in the country and they are not at all happy with Biden’s policy on Gaza.

Young people in large numbers across the country are enraged by what is going on in Gaza. According to a recent Times/Siena College poll, nearly half of all adults between 18-29 “strongly disapprove” of Biden’s policy on Gaza, and nearly three-quarters “strongly” or “somewhat” disapprove, with only 3% in full support of how Biden is handling this.

Elections are won, not just by which way people vote, but also by which people actually bother to vote at all. Trump knows how to fire up his base. He plays on anger, fear, resentment, hatred and other less noble human emotions to motivate people to cast their vote.

The biggest problem with Biden is not that he is disliked, but that he does not inspire enough motivation for people to go out and vote, let alone to campaign on his behalf. The most commonly heard argument for voting Biden is to prevent Trump from getting back into the White House. But is that sufficient motivation, and is it even true?

The reality is that Trump will get back into the White House unless Democrats ditch Biden very soon and insist on a candidate who can actually beat Trump. Biden is simply not the one who can do that, and the longer he remains the Democratic candidate, the greater the risk that Trump will be our next President.

Timmon Wallis is author of Warheads to Windmills: Preventing Climate Catastrophe and Nuclear War, and Executive Director of, a 527 nonprofit that promotes candidates committed to seriously addressing these two existential threats.