President Biden is underperforming among nonwhite voters in New York Times/Siena College national polls over the last year, helping to keep the race close in a hypothetical rematch against Donald J. Trump.
On average, Mr. Biden leads Mr. Trump by just 53 percent to 28 percent among registered nonwhite voters in a compilation of Times/Siena polls from 2022 and 2023, which includes over 1,500 nonwhite respondents.
The results represent a marked deterioration in Mr. Biden’s support compared with 2020, when he won more than 70 percent of nonwhite voters. If he’s unable to revitalize this support by next November, it will continue a decade-long trend of declining Democratic strength among voters considered to be the foundation of the party.
Mr. Biden’s tepid support among these voters appears to be mostly responsible for the close race in early national surveys, which show Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump all but tied among registered voters even as Mr. Biden runs as well among white voters as he did four years ago.
With more than a year to go until the election, there’s plenty of time for Mr. Biden to re-energize his former supporters. Indeed, the Times/Siena data suggests that Mr. Biden could approach — though not match — his 2020 standing simply by reclaiming voters who say they backed him in the last election.
But the possibility that his standing will remain beneath the already depressed levels of the last presidential election should not be discounted. Democrats have lost ground among nonwhite voters in almost every election over the last decade, even as racially charged fights over everything from a border wall to kneeling during the national anthem might have been expected to produce the exact opposite result. Weak support for Mr. Biden could easily manifest itself as low turnout — as it did in 2022 — even if many young and less engaged voters ultimately do not vote for Mr. Trump.
Many of Mr. Biden’s vulnerabilities — like his age and inflation — could exacerbate the trend, as nonwhite voters tend to be younger and less affluent than white voters. Overall, the president’s approval rating stands at just 47 percent among nonwhite voters in Times/Siena polling over the last year; his favorability rating is just 54 percent.
Issues like abortion and threats to democracy may also do less to guard against additional losses among Black and Hispanic voters, who tend to be more conservative than white Biden voters. They may also do less to satisfy voters living paycheck to paycheck: Mr. Biden is underperforming most among nonwhite voters making less than $100,000 per year, at least temporarily erasing the century-old tendency for Democrats to fare better among lower-income than higher-income nonwhite voters.
The Times/Siena data suggests the emergence of a fairly clear education gap among nonwhite voters, as Mr. Biden loses ground among less affluent nonwhite voters and those without a degree. Overall, he retains a 61-23 lead among nonwhite college graduates, compared with a mere 49-31 lead among those without a four-year degree.
If the gap persists until the election, it will raise the possibility that the political realignment unleashed by Mr. Trump’s brand of conservative populism has spread to erode the political loyalties of working-class voters, of all races, who were drawn to the Democrats by material interests in an earlier era of politics.
Mr. Biden’s weakness among nonwhite voters is broad, spanning virtually every demographic category and racial group, including a 72-11 lead among Black voters and a 47-35 lead among Hispanic registrants. The sample of Asian voters is not large enough to report, though nonwhite voters who aren’t Black or Hispanic — whether Asian, Native American, multiracial or something else — back Mr. Biden by just 40-39. In all three cases, Mr. Biden’s tallies are well beneath his standing in the last election.
The findings are echoed by other high-quality national surveys, which show Mr. Biden faring as poorly among nonwhite voters (or even somewhat worse) as in the Times/Siena data. On average, Mr. Bide n leads by 74-19 among Black voters and by 50-40 among Hispanic voters across 12 high-quality national surveys so far this year.
The shift is also echoed in how nonwhite Times/Siena respondents say they voted in 2020. Overall, nonwhite respondents who divulged their vote in the last election reported backing Mr. Biden by a margin of 70 percent to 24 percent, a figure neatly in line with postelection studies. Nonetheless, Mr. Biden does not approach those tallies in a hypothetical rematch among the very same group of respondents.
The survey finds evidence that a modest but important 5 percent of nonwhite Biden voters now support Mr. Trump, including 8 percent of Hispanic voters who say they backed Mr. Biden in 2020. Virtually no nonwhite voters who say they supported Mr. Trump — just 1 percent — say they will back Mr. Biden this time around. In comparison, white Biden and white Trump supporters from 2020 say they will return to their previous candidate in nearly identical numbers.
Beyond voters who have flipped to Mr. Trump, a large number of disaffected voters who supported Mr. Biden in 2020 now say they’re undecided or simply won’t vote this time around. As a consequence, his weakness is concentrated among less engaged voters on the periphery of politics, who have not consistently voted in recent elections and who may decide to stay home next November.
Overall, Mr. Biden leads by 81-8 among Black voters who turned out in 2022, but just 62-14 among those who skipped the midterm elections. Similarly, he leads by 53-33 among Hispanics who voted in the midterms, compared with just a 42-37 lead among those who did not vote.
Young people of color, who make up a disproportionate share of nonvoters, are an important part of Mr. Biden’s challenge. He holds a 48-29 lead among nonwhite registered voters under age 45, compared with a 58-28 lead among those over 45. In contrast, there was little difference among nonwhite voters over or under 45 in their share of support for Mr. Biden in 2020 — a result that’s echoed in the self-reported recalled 2020 vote choice of the Times/Siena survey respondents.
The generational divide is most striking among Black voters, who have typically offered all but unanimous support to Democrats. That overwhelming support persists among Black registered voters over 45. They back Mr. Biden, 83-8, but Mr. Biden holds just a 59-14 lead among the 152 registered Black respondents under 45.
The dissatisfaction of younger and lower-turnout voters raises the possibility that Mr. Biden’s weakness in the polls may show up primarily as low turnout among Black and Hispanic voters, rather than as a titanic shift toward Mr. Trump. Something similar might have happened in the last midterm election, when Democrats appeared to maintain usual shares of support among Black voters, but the racial turnout gap increased to multi-decade highs.
Indeed, Mr. Biden’s lead among nonwhite voters expands to 57-27 among those who voted in 2020 or 2022, compared with 53-28 among all registered nonwhite voters. And his lead among those recent voters could grow further, to 63-29, if undecided and dissenting voters are assigned to the candidate whom they said they backed in the last presidential election.
A 63-29 lead would be much closer to Mr. Biden’s standing among nonwhite voters in the last presidential election, as would his 84-11 lead among Black voters and his 55-37 lead among Hispanic voters in that same scenario.
Yet even after allocating the remaining undecided voters, these tallies might still be the worst for a Democratic leader among Black and Hispanic voters since Walter Mondale in 1984.