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Biden faces trust gap on key issues including immigration and inflation, new poll finds

Joe Biden is less trusted on key issues than Donald Trump, according to a new poll that suggests voters have become weary with his administration’s handling of major crises and upset about the state of the economy.

An ABC News/Ipsos poll that was released on Sunday provided several vexing results for the incumbent president. One startling result that suggests the depth of Mr Biden’s problems: voters were more likely to blame him over Mr Trump for the collapse of border security talks in Congress — even despite Mr Trump publicly coming out against the legislation, while Mr Biden supported it.

It’s a maddening survey result that suggests two problems: insufficient or ineffective messaging on the issue of immigration in general and the Senate’s bipartisan compromise legislation specifically on the part of the White House and Biden campaign; and a failure by the beltway media to succinctly describe the state of both America’s immigration system and the politics behind it to the American public.

By and large, voters were more likely to say they trust Mr Trump on the issue of border security. That’s no surprise; Americans who list immigration as a top voting issue are more likely to trend conservative given the GOP’s stance on strict border controls. Mr Biden had also, in the Senate deal, made concessions to the right which have angered some in his own party, particularly by endorsing a measure that could temporarily limit or halt the asylum process. Republicans in Congress were slightly more like to face blame from survey respondents than were their Democratic colleagues for the legislation’s failure, but only just. That comes despite Speaker Mike Johnson declaring the bipartisan compromise “dead on arrival” in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.

Altogether, it seems as if voters have little understanding of the politics playing out on Capitol Hill surrounding border security as well as funding for Ukraine and Israel. Mr Biden’s own unpopularity and other issues are weighing down the president’s trust numbers on those two conflicts as well; he now trails Mr Trump on both issues.

It’s not to say Democrats do not have the ammunition they need. Chaos continues to flourish in the House of Representatives, where the GOP tried and failed to impeach Mr Biden’s secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, last week. Then there’s Mr Trump’s very public attempts to kill the Senate’s immigration talks — and his stunning declaration this weekend that he would violate Article 5 of the Nato contract if a member-state which not sufficiently contributing to regional defence was attacked by Russia. The strongest attacks on that latter issue in the past day have come from Nikki Haley, while Democrats fume at the media over coverage of a special counsel’s investigative report which accused the president of suffering from memory issues.

Meanwhile, Mr Biden’s numbers on the economy remain underwater, too.

The incumbent president is trusted less than his likely 2024 opponent on the issues of the economy generally and inflation specifically; that’s despite his party’s passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and some consumer prices beginning to drop. Democrats are losing on the issue because some of the most noticeable expenses for Americans — food, housing, and energy — remain stubbornly high. The Biden administration’s crowing about wage increases and low unemployment have not convinced Americans that the economy is in a good place, not while homelessness is at its highest-ever-recorded level in the United States and affording basic essentials remains difficult.

A glimmer of hope for Mr Biden in the poll could be found, however. A clear majority of Americans — 66 per cent — oppose the idea of Donald Trump having immunity from prosecution for crimes allegedly committed during his presidency, a result that suggests voters remain open-minded about the potential verdicts in his four criminal prosecutions.

The ABC/Ipsos poll was conducted between 9-10 February in English and Spanish. More information about the methodology can be found here.