West News Wire: The job approval rating for President Joe Biden is 19 points below average, and his scores for managing the economy and immigration are at a career low. Biden faces formidable obstacles in his reelection campaign, including a record proportion of Americans who believe their lives have become worse under his administration, three-quarters who believe he is too old for another term, and Donald Trump looking better in hindsight.
The most for any president since 1986, 44% of respondents in the most recent Washington Post poll think their financial situation has gotten worse under Biden’s administration. Just 37% of people think his work performance is up to par, while 56% don’t. 30% of voters disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy.
On handling immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border, Biden’s rating is even lower, with 23% approval. In terms of intensity of sentiment, 20% strongly approve of his work overall, while 45% strongly disapprove. And the 74% who say he’s too old for a second term is up 6 percentage points since May. Views that Trump is too old also are up, but to 50% in this poll.
Given the GOP infighting that led to the budget standoff, 40% of people say they would mostly blame Vice President Joe Biden and the Democrats in Congress if a government shutdown occurs at the end of the month.
Trump, on the other hand, has changed with time. 38% of people disapproved of his job as president when he grudgingly left office in January 2021, which is around the same as Biden’s rating right now. But right now, reflecting on his tenure as president, 48% of respondents said they were satisfied with Trump’s job performance. Almost the same number, 49%, now disapprove, compared to 60% when he departed the White House.
Comparison with Biden may be a factor. Among the 56% of Americans who disapprove of Biden’s work in office, a wide 75% say that, looking back, they approve of Trump.
It’s also notable that Trump has an even split in his retrospective job approval rating even as most Americans continue to reject his assertion that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Sixty percent of Americans instead say Biden legitimately won, and an additional 12% have no opinion; 29% think Biden did not win legitimately.
These opinions influence early voting preferences. Amazingly, only 33% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents support Biden as the party’s nominee in 2024, while 62% of Democrats and independents agree. The number of people who would prefer a different candidate is large, but it is also consistent with previous outcomes (56 to 58%) during the last year.
Who would replace Biden is a matter of debate. In an open-ended question, 8% of respondents say they prefer Kamala Harris, 8% say they prefer Bernie Sanders, and 7% say they prefer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Simply “someone else” ranks at 20%.
A variety of factors may be at play. Biden’s poor performance ratings, the extent of economic discontent, the immigration crisis and doubts about his age clearly are relevant. All have been the subject of extensive recent news coverage, focusing public discourse on negatives for the president. Trump, meanwhile, has used his criminal indictments to bolster his base through claims of political persecution and enjoys positive coverage of his GOP frontrunner status.
Question order can be a factor. As is customary for polls at this still-early stage of an election cycle, this survey asked first about Biden and Trump’s performance, economic sentiment and a handful of other issues (Ukraine aid, abortion and a government shutdown) before candidate preferences. That’s because these questions are more germane than candidate support in an election so far off. Since many results are negative toward Biden, it follows that he’s lagging in 2024 support. Nonetheless, those sentiments are real, have been consistently negative in recent surveys, and clearly mark Biden’s challenges ahead.
Members of racial and ethnic minorities support Biden only 50% (the same as in May), whereas Trump has increased his support in this group in this year’s polls from 32% to 43%. Despite having a tiny sample size, the Trump-Biden result among Hispanics is a startling 50–44%.
64-30% of Americans still disagree with the American Supreme Court’s decision terminating the right to an abortion. By a margin of 57-35%, those who disagree with the decision favour Biden to Trump. A considerably broader 81-16% of those in favour of the decision support Trump.
Ratings of the national economy, which 74% of respondents evaluate poorly overall with strong political divisions, also distinguish the outcomes of candidate preferences. The poll probed for details on that sentiment, finding two major irritants: food prices, rated negatively (as not so good or poor) by 91%; and gas and energy prices, rated negatively by 87%.