March 3, 2024 - 1:00pm

Trump is leading Biden in the swing states that could determine the outcome of November’s election, according to a new Morning Consult poll via RCP

A few key issues, however, have the potential to hurt Trump in those states, where the voters he’s pursuing are more moderate than his GOP base. 

For example, about half of voters in swing states said they would be unwilling to vote for the presumptive GOP nominee if he’s convicted in any pending criminal cases, the poll found. These cases include allegations of mishandling classified documents, conspiracy to overthrow the results of the 2020 election, and hush money payments to Stormy Daniels. For comparison, a national poll found that only 32% of registered Republicans think Trump should not be the Republican nominee if convicted of a crime. 

Trump continues to lead Biden on the issues that are, by a wide margin, the most important to swing state voters: the economy and immigration. Two potential liabilities, however, could be improvements in voters’ perception of the economy or a significant border crackdown from Biden. As it stands, most Americans believe the economy is poor or only fair, most think it is getting worse or staying the same, and most blame the border crisis on Biden. But optimistic signs in the economy could be unwelcome news for the Republican hopeful, as could the president’s recent efforts to improve his image on immigration.

Aside from the two driving issues in this election, contentious social issues arguably pose a greater threat to Trump’s lead in swing states. The abortion issue has hurt the GOP electorally since the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022, a ruling Trump’s Supreme Court nominees were in-part responsible for. It’s unclear what this will mean for Trump in 2024. He supports legal abortion through 16 weeks of pregnancy, a limit favoured by about 45% of Americans, per YouGov; of the 36% of voters who oppose this limit, presumably most would not have voted for Trump in the first place. 

Yet even in North Carolina, perhaps the reddest swing state, abortion has become a potent issue that is expected to drive opponents of the state’s new abortion restriction to the ballots. Voters consistently rank abortion near the bottom of the list of important issues in influencing their vote, yet it nonetheless appears to be influencing voters. Similarly, as the GOP faces criticism over an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that allows IVF providers to be penalised for destroying human embryos, Trump has come out strongly in favour of IVF. 

In a race as close as this one, even a candidate projected to win every swing state can’t take victory for granted.

is UnHerd’s US correspondent.