Voters, worried about inflation, are favoring Trump in swing states, poll shows

Former President Trump narrowly leads President Biden in six of the seven states considered key in this year’s election rematch, an advantage powered by the perception that the Republican challenger would do a better job controlling inflation, according to a poll released Thursday.

Trump’s overall advantage in the seven states stands at 47% to 44%, a margin that grows to five percentage points in a five-way contest that includes independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Green Party candidate Jill Stein and independent Cornel West, according to the Swing State Survey, overseen by the Cook Political Report and two polling firms.

Trump’s lead in the head-to-head contest is a modest one: at or less than the margin of sampling error in four of the states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

The former president holds a wider lead in Nevada and North Carolina, 9% and 7%, respectively, while the two are tied, 45% to 45%, in Wisconsin, the poll found.

While inflation has subsided substantially since its peak in the second half of 2022, many voters remain preoccupied with high prices. The Cook survey found that a significant majority of voters think Biden has control over inflation. But just 40% in the seven swing states think prices would be brought under control if he wins a second term, while 56% said they think a Trump presidency would usher in lower inflation.

Biden has an advantage among voters with his support of abortion rights, but the poll showed more voters are focused on economic issues. When nearly 4,000 voters across the seven states were asked what concerns them more, Biden overseeing economic policy or Trump setting policy on abortion, 55% said they were more worried about Biden handling the economy than they were about Trump setting policy on abortion (45%).

“At this point … the defining issue for this contest is a more traditional one: the economy,” Amy Walter, editor in chief of the Cook Political Report, wrote in an analysis of the results.

“While abortion remains a strong issue for Democrats, President Biden’s advantage on the issue isn’t strong enough to offset Trump’s overall strength on bringing down the cost of living,” Walter wrote. “Biden’s overall weak position, combined with voters’ deep worry about rising costs, is currently limiting his ability to make the case that Trump is the bigger risk.”

Both candidates face other challenges, with Biden’s “age and ability to complete his term” cited by slightly more potential voters than Trump’s “temperament and legal problems” — by a 53% to 47% margin. Biden is 81 years old, Trump is 77.

“The race is still close because both candidates’ personal weaknesses make it hard for them to leverage the issues that should benefit them,” Walter wrote.

Trump did marginally better in four of the seven key states in a hypothetical race including the additional candidates. The Cook survey showed the former president ahead in that scenario, 43% to 38%, with 8% for Kennedy.

Joining the Cook Report in conducting the survey was BSG, a polling firm tied to Democrats, and GS Strategy Group, a firm that mostly works with Republicans. The pollsters reached voters between May 6 and 13. Of those who responded, 85% said they were “absolutely certain” or “very likely” to vote.

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