Joe Biden can’t get out of the hole he’s already dug for himself

It was supposed to be unthinkable.

After losing to Joe Biden in 2020, after Jan. 6, after four felony indictments and all manner of other legal troubles, after years of surveys showing solid majorities of Americans widely dislike Don­ald Trump and after feuds with Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis that have yet to heal, it’s seven months to Election Day and the polls consistently show Trump leading Biden.

How did Biden screw this up so badly? 

The latest Wall Street Journal poll shows Trump leading by 2 to 8 points in each of six battleground states (Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina), trailing Biden only in Wisconsin — and a pure head-to-head matchup has the two men tied in Wisconsin. 

Look at the RealClearPolitics poll averages, and the story is much the same: Trump leads Biden by less than a point in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and by 3 points or more in each of the other five big battlegrounds.

In states with a clear poll leader, Trump leads Biden 219-214 in the Electoral College.

If you count every lead, no matter how thin, Trump wins by a lopsided 312-226, the biggest Electoral College margin since Barack Obama in 2012. 

It’s not over yet 

That would also mean Trump carrying eight states where Democrats are defending a Senate seat in November while losing none where Republicans are defending one.

Chuck Schumer can’t be happy at that prospect. 

It’s early for Trump to start counting his chickens.

The polling industry has struggled to reliably forecast elections as fewer and fewer Americans answer their phones or even have a landline.

Many of Trump’s leads are modest.

The Journal poll was conducted March 17-24, and national polls that were in the field since then have been a bit more favorable to Biden.

Large numbers of voters, especially independents, still say they are undecided. 

It’s also early enough that the campaigns, which don’t really kick into gear until after Labor Day, can still have an effect.

Democrats are likely to maintain their significant edge in fund­raising, which means more money for ads and getting out the vote. 

The war in Gaza may be over by November, which would help heal fractures in Biden’s voting base.

Trump may yet be convicted at one or more criminal trials between now and then.

And the race could be upended if Biden (who’s 81) or Trump (who turns 78 in June) were to have a serious health issue. 

But you’d much rather be where Trump is in the polls right now than where Biden is.

Trump was never in this strong a position at any point in the 2016 or 2020 elections.

At this stage in 2020, Biden was up 4 points in Michigan, 3 in Wisconsin and North Carolina and 2 in Pennsylvania.

At this point in 2016, Hillary Clinton was up 10 in Michigan and Wisconsin, 9 in Pennsylvania and 2 in North Carolina — and she lost all four states. 

How much of this is Biden’s fault?

His job-approval rating is still hovering just over 40%, well below where Trump stood at this point in 2020 as the nation locked down in the midst of the pandemic.

Only 28% told the Journal that Biden has the mental and physical fitness to do the job, and that’s consistent with what other pollsters have found. 

Voters are dissatisfied with the economy, the border and the world situation, and they increasingly remember Trump as doing a better job.

Trump hasn’t done anything different; he just looks better as people see the alternative.

It also helps people think more about the first three years of Trump’s term and less about 2020’s lockdowns and ­riots.

Many voters now seem to think of those events as an anomaly that won’t return. 

Dem base is sagging 

Biden’s support is sagging badly among black and Hispanic voters, and younger people are tuning him out.

So are the faithful: A February Marquette poll found that Biden trailed Trump by 12 points among Catholics, 15 among mainline Protestants and 25 among weekly churchgoers. 

In Michigan, Emerson College found Trump 1 to 3 points ahead of Biden (depending how many other candidates you include) — but Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer would be 5 points ahead of Trump.

That’s on Joe. 

Yet Biden refuses to change course or change his message: The economy is good, Trump is a threat to democracy, and abortion, abortion, abortion.

Those campaign tactics helped Democrats avoid what should have been a much worse loss in 2022, but they still lost the national popular vote in House races — and a repeat of that showing would mean President Trump: The Sequel. 

But don’t expect an old dog to learn new tricks.

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