SOUTH BEND – Polls show that voters, when asked about a rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, are signaling a tossup, with Trump slightly ahead in some samplings.
     
This is a reflection of the plummeting approval ratings for President Biden. On June 1, the Real Clear Politics average approval for Biden in national polls was 53.32%, with a plus percentage over disapproval of 11.3%, higher than Trump ever approached. By the middle of last week, Biden’s average polling approval percentage was 41.3%, with a negative gap of 12.1%, down where Trump dwelled.
     
Now, to put this in perspective: The 2024 presidential election is three years away. Whether there will be a Trump vs. Biden rematch is uncertain. Polls, even a few days before an election, don’t always show the outcome. They certainly can’t be regarded as highly accurate forecasts this far out.
     
But the sagging Biden popularity, though there is a lot of time for recovery before ’24, is bad news right now for Democrats. Their chances of retaining control of the House next year appear to have vanished, and Senate prospects are not as good as once envisioned. Traditionally, the party of a newly elected president loses support in the next congressional election. That certainly will hold true if Biden remains so low in approval. 
     
Democrats express confidence that Biden’s approval and their ’22 chances will improve as the infrastructure bill, finally passed, will bring major, long-need projects. The bill is popular and could have slowed the decline in Biden’s approval if bickering Democrats had passed it two months earlier. Also, Democrats hope the president’s Build Back Better bill will be popular. But they have to pass it, and do so with explanation of what’s in it rather than just confusing voters by fighting with each other over costs of this and maybe that.
     
And they say it’s unfair that Biden is slipping in polls in part over continuing COVID-19 spread, when it’s Republican governors and Republican-controlled legislatures such as in Indiana, seeking to stymie the president’s efforts to halt the pandemic. Well, it is unfair. But nobody ever promised that politics will be fair.
     
The messy withdrawal from Afghanistan also hurt Biden’s approval. The withdrawal was negotiated by Trump, but Trump supporters say that he would have had a smoother departure.
     
Democrats are shocked by those polls showing so many voters, a slight majority in some polls, pick Trump in a rematch. They see Trump as a repudiated and disgraced former president who refused to leave office gracefully and sought to overturn his election loss with violence to stop the Electoral College count. Trump’s favorable percentage average remains low, at only 41%. That so many voters see a tossup in a rematch tells a lot about how far Biden has sunk.
     
Will Trump actually run again? He shows every sign of doing so. Why wouldn’t he, when he would love to be back in debates and get back in the White House to retaliate against his enemies?
     
Right now, Trump would be certain to win the Republican nomination. That could change if Trump’s efforts to defeat Republicans he doesn’t like in the ’22 primaries result in Democrats winning in key contests in the fall. Doubters about his candidacy say his ego wouldn’t let him risk losing again – becoming a two-time loser. Even if he lost, however, he could again claim that he really won.
     
Will Biden seek reelection? He says he will. Some analysts thought Biden was the only Democrat who could have defeated Trump last year. That could be the situation in ’24. Kamala Harris has an even lower favorable rating than the president. 
     
Trump vs. Biden again? Pollsters test it because it’s possible.    

Colwell is a columnist for the South Bend Tribune.