The year of America’s next presidential election is here, which can only mean one thing: speculation will continue to ramp up about who will be the next person to occupy the White House.

While the campaign season started with a long list of competitors, the field has now narrowed to just two. President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have locked up the required delegates to be the Democratic and Republican nominees, respectively. While several independent candidates remain in the race as long shots, this means that the United States is on track to have its have its first presidential election rematch since 1956, an unprecedented battle between the oldest president to take office in Biden, and the first-ever former president convicted of a felony in Trump.

With the election now just 4 months away, pollsters and political scientists are heating up the debate about who will win the 270 electoral votes needed to earn a seat in the Oval Office. Who do the experts believe will be the next president of the United States?

Who do the polls say will win the election?

Biden and Trump traded slight polling leads throughout the primary season. When it comes to actual figures, though, Trump has carried most of the weight in the majority of polls taken during the early portion of the year — a New York Times poll from May 13 of 1,000 Americans showed the former president leading Biden in five of six key battleground states. Biden led Trump only in Wisconsin with a margin of 47% to 45%. While the accuracy of this poll has been questioned, the Trump lead appears to be in line with a May 14 YouGov/Economist poll of 1,586 voters that had Trump leading 42% to 41% and a May 12 Morning Consult poll of 10,243 voters that had him leading 44% to 43%.

But while Trump has had the edge in the polls through most of the election season, a new element was added to the race at the end of May that could cause an unprecedented shift: the former president was convicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in relation to his hush money payments to Stormy Daniels. Early polling data appears to show that the GOP nominee now being a convicted felon is moderately changing public opinion. A May 31 Reuters/Ipsos poll of 2,256 Americans found that 1 in 10 Republicans and 25% of independents are less likely to vote for Trump following his conviction. This is in line with a June 2 ABC/Ipsos poll of 781 Americans that found 49% of respondents thought Trump should end his campaign as a result of his conviction. It remains to be seen whether or not this will be enough to make a difference in November. Notably, the same Reuters poll found that the conviction made no difference to 56% of Republicans, while 35% of GOP voters said they were more likely to vote for Trump as a result of the conviction. However, the “potential loss of a tenth of his party’s voters is more significant for Trump than the stronger backing of more than a third of Republicans,” said Reuters, given that many of the 35% of Republicans would likely vote for him anyway.

But while Trump is dealing with legal blowback, Biden is trying to mend a slew of his own problems, most notably his debate against Trump on June 27. Biden’s performance was nearly universally described as one of the worst in presidential debate history, and “created a crisis moment for Biden’s campaign and his presidency,” said The Associated Press. Biden has acknowledged his poor performance, but this has not seemed to quell concern among those in his own party, some of whom began calling for the president to step aside and not be the Democratic nominee. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) became the first to do so, which could open the floodgates for others to follow suit.

Post-debate polling showed that it wasn’t just politicians who expressed concerns over Biden’s ability to be reelected. A July 2 USA Today/Suffolk University poll of 1,000 voters, released days after the debate, had Trump extending his lead 41% to 38%. This is in line with a CNN/SSRS poll of 1,274 respondents released the same day which had Trump beating Biden by a six-point margin of 49% to 43%, with only 23% thinking that Biden performed better than Trump in the debate. The Biden campaign itself doesn’t seem to be as worried about the dip as everyone else. Other internal polls “found the president tied or ahead of Trump after the debate,” the campaign said, per Politico, also noting that former President Barack Obama saw a “large, but temporary, drop in his polling” after a lackluster performance in his first 2012 debate.

Despite Trump’s conviction, Biden’s debate problems seem to have further swung the pendulum toward the former president poll-wise. In the 10 most recent head-to-head matchups in FiveThirtyEight’s polling aggregate, Trump is leading in all except for one with anywhere from a two to four-point gap. The lone exception is a July 2 Reuters/Ipsos poll that had the men tied at 40%, suggesting that “Biden has not lost ground since the debate,” said Reuters.

Who do the pundits say will win the election?

While the polls may tell one story, political analysts, pundits and experts can tell another. At the beginning of the race, many who study politics seemed to believe that Biden would ultimately secure a second term in office despite Trump leading in the polls. But with four months to go until ballots are cast, opinions are now becoming more mixed.

It has “become clear that Biden staying in the race is making it more likely that Donald Trump will be the next president,” Eric Levitz said for Vox. Biden’s “conspicuous cognitive and rhetorical decline has rendered him an exceptionally weak candidate, whose odds of victory look much slimmer than any of the Democratic Party’s plausible alternatives.”

Some have said that Biden’s debate performance is being overblown by the media, but “even ignoring the fact that Biden has lost support in the polls, the argument that ‘our candidate’s debate performance only generated a media consensus against his candidacy’ is not reassuring,” said Levitz. This is because the media “is a very powerful actor in American politics! Voters do not derive their impressions of candidates and parties from the ether; their understanding of the world is shaped by the editorial decisions of editors, reporters, and newscast producers.” Biden’s vice president, Kamala Harris, should be the Democratic nominee, former Democratic Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan said for Newsweek. Harris is a “polished, confident leader communicating clearly in the throes of a political meltdown of epic proportions.”

Trump is also catching up to Biden in fundraising, an area that he has previously been lagging behind. The former president’s campaign reported that it raised $141 million in May, bolstered by a $51 million surge immediately after he was found guilty. This represents a marked shift away from the fundraising dominance that Biden has seen in recent months, though the president still maintains a large advantage in his campaign coffers. If Trump were to carry the White House, he “would not win because America is in love with the former president, his policies or the idea of having a strongman run the country,” but unease toward Biden could allow him to “be elected president while winning even less than the 46% of the national popular vote he earned in 2016,” said Perry Bacon Jr. for The Washington Post. Though like everything that has occurred so far this campaign, it is hard to make a truly accurate guess on how the public will lean. After all, polls have been wrong — sometimes considerably — in the past; on Election Day 2016, The New York Times predicted that Hillary Clinton had an 85% chance of beating Trump.

This is why not everyone is so hot on the idea that Trump will beat Biden easily, and it should also be noted that for all of the calls for Biden to step down, there have also been numerous calls for Trump to abandon his presidential bid as well. Replacing Biden as the Democratic nominee “would be a mistake,” Allan Lichtman, an American University professor who has correctly predicted nine out of the last 10 presidential elections, said to CNN. “How often since the turn of the 20th century has the party holding the White House ever won in an open seat with an uncertain or contested nomination? The answer is never.”

Lichtman has developed 13 “keys” that he claims will accurately predict who will win the White House; if six go against the party holding the presidency, that party will lose. Biden “ticks off the incumbency key and he ticks off the party contest key,” said Lichtman. If he is pushed out, Democrats “lose the incumbency key and you lose the contest key.” But with Biden currently still running, he is “only down two keys right now,” so “a lot would have to go wrong” for Biden to lose.

Who else is in play?

The other X-factor in the race is the aforementioned Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Although he entered the race as a Democrat, Kennedy is now running as an independent and polls show that he could potentially play the role of a third party spoiler. This is something that Kennedy himself has rejected, though some in the White House reportedly believe Kennedy “poses a real threat to President Joe Biden’s reelection chances,” Forbes said. However, while most analysts believe RFK Jr.’s candidacy was most likely to be a problem for Biden, polling shows that it may be Trump who gets the short end of the stick; an NBC News poll from April found that Kennedy would likely siphon more voters away from Trump than Biden, as the aforementioned RMG and New York Times polls that also showed Kennedy pulling more from Trump voters. So while the White House and Democrats are worried about Kennedy, it appears the Trump team may be equally worried, as the former president “may regret RFK Jr.’s campaign,” Business Insider said. Notably, in NBC’s poll that had Biden winning, the president’s margin of victory shrinks to 39% for Biden over 37% for Trump, while Kennedy pulls in 13%, meaning the chance for RFK Jr. to play spoiler is still very much alive. This is despite the fact that he has been besieged by several high-profile controversies, including an alleged sexual assault in the 1990s and the allegation that he once cooked and ate a dog, allegations that Kennedy has partially denied. Other candidates also remain in the race, including Cornel West, Marianne Williamson and Jill Stein, but are unlikely to generate a challenge to either Biden or Trump.

A second date between Biden and Trump is scheduled to be held by ABC News in September, though it is unclear how this would change if the landscape of the election is altered.

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