Both Joe Biden and Donald Trump face significant challenges in a potential rematch for the White House in 2024, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk poll finds — but opposites.
As for President Biden, who is expected to launch his re-election bid on Tuesday, his standing among voters who supported him in 2020 is broad but shallow, risking the nomination being destroyed by a credible Democrat or a third-party candidate in the fall.
For former President Trump, support among his 2020 voters is deep but narrow, fueled by controversies, all of which will make it difficult to expand his support in the general election.
Meet the yin and yang.
The propagation of mirror images complicates some traditional calculations of who is above, who is below, and what is ahead. A poll of 600 Biden voters and 600 Trump voters taken by landline and cellphone April 15-18 underscores the uncertainties.
The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
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Trump voters love their candidate. Biden voters are kind of meh.
A muscular 93% of voters who supported Trump in 2020 approve of his job as president; Only 5% disagreed. What’s more, 45% say they’re more excited to vote for him in 2024 than they were last time, a double-digit margin over the 33% who are least excited.
“You can be lukewarm about some candidates, but with Trump, it’s hot or cold,” said Ron Buffum, 77, a health insurance agent from Round Rock, Texas. Respondents were obtained from the poll.
For Biden, 85% of his 2020 voters approve of the job he’s doing as president and 10% disapprove, a healthy rating but not a full embrace of Trump. The current president is more troubling: 43% of his voters say they are less enthusiastic about supporting him next term, more than double the 24% who are enthusiastic.
That enthusiasm gap may appear to be a key factor in getting supporters to vote.
Biden has been broadly neutral among Democrats on policy.
For a party sometimes defined by its divisions, Biden has managed to govern to the satisfaction of most of the voters who put him in the White House. This was a significant boost to his re-election campaign and a feat that eluded his modern-day predecessors who were defeated for re-election.
Seventy percent of Biden voters say his positions and policies are “right” as president. That includes 73% self-identified liberals, 78% moderates, and 65% conservatives.
One in 5, 21%, say he’s not progressive enough, many of whom call themselves “too liberal.” Six percent say he is too progressive.
“I love what he’s done and what he’s done,” said Danny Zamora, 64, a retiree from San Antonio, Texas, who voted for Biden. He says the president has “weathered” the challenges of the COVID pandemic from the economy.
If that is Biden’s strongest asset, his biggest liability is his age, now 80. While a 55% majority of his voters say his age doesn’t make a difference, a substantial 42% say it does. They are less likely to support him. When he takes office in 2021, he will be 78 years old, making Biden the oldest president to take office.
Tommy Hester, 51, of suburban Prince George’s County, Maryland, who voted for Biden in 2020, said, “I think he’s wonderful. , fresh thoughts and ideas.”
A criminal indictment strengthens Trump — and that’s a risk.
Accused? so what?
Trump’s criminal indictment in New York on financial charges and the prospect that he could face additional charges elsewhere on various charges have not swayed his core supporters. Two-thirds of his voters say his unprecedented legal risk has made no difference to them.
Others say 7-1 that indictments are more likely to support him, not less, 27%-4%.
“It’s politically motivated, Democrats are hurting themselves,” said Francis Wihbe, 62, a real estate developer from Branford, Connecticut, and a Republican who voted for Trump. He calls the former president “100% my choice.”
That makes it difficult for his GOP rivals to attack him over his legal troubles. The instinct of the Republican base to confront such controversies feeds Trump’s own opposition and his focus on political grievances.
But the opposition hardening his base could also drive away other voters, even some who want to support him on policy. On top of that, an asset in a primary election is likely to become a liability in a general election.
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Some of his supporters are signaling Trump fatigue. More than 1 in 4, 27%, say they don’t want to run for the nomination. Those who love someone else also have a clear desire. Six in 10 volunteers want to vote for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“They’ve been fighting and arguing and fighting,” said Pamela Cozord, 64, an independent voter from Fort Smith, Arkansas, who voted for Trump in 2020.
Trump won the field of incumbent primary contenders with 69% of the vote. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and South Carolina Sen. None of the candidates who have announced campaigns or formed scrutinies, including Tim Scott, reached double digits.
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A third-party candidate can replace the deck.
The ground is fertile for a third-party candidate on both sides, albeit in different ways.
While Biden voters are personally 65%-18% loyal to the Democratic Party over him, Trump voters are split 41%-43% on whether they feel more loyal to Trump or the GOP. If Trump is not nominated, those supporters can vote for an independent candidate or not vote at all.
A third-party campaign could pose several problems for Democrats. Biden voters already say they don’t want him to seek a second term 49%-40%. He has no major Democratic challenger, at least not yet, but longtime rival Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the scion of a famous political family best known as an anti-vax activist, had an astonishing 14% support. Democratic nomination at the polls.
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If there is a Biden and Trump redux, 6% of Trump voters and 9% of Biden voters say they support an independent candidate. Some of them express passion for new and younger generation leaders. Among supporters concerned about Biden’s age, 15% would vote for an unnamed third-party challenger.
Among Trump supporters, 17% said his age, now 76, made them less likely to vote for him. 17% of them said they would vote for a third-party candidate.
“Both 2020 Trump and Biden voters have a problem with the age of their respective party favorites,” said David Paleologos, director of Suffolk University’s Center for Political Research. “Young, libertarian ticket with Democratic and Republican hopes could be alternative to ‘same old'”.
About a third of voters who now support an independent candidate say they would stick with that plan, even if it gives the other side a better chance of winning the White House.
However, 50% of Biden voters and 42% of Trump voters say the spoiler argument would convince them to stick with their original candidate. Victoria Houseman, 31, a business manager from Trumbull, Connecticut, says she would vote for a third-party candidate “if it really works, yes.” She likes Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
But on the Trump vs. Biden rematch, he says “100% Biden.” “No one but Trump.”