President Joe Biden’s approval rating is 19 points underwater, his ratings for handling the economy and immigration are at the lowest of his career. A record number of Americans say they’ve gotten worse off under his presidency, three-quarters say he’s too old for another term, and Donald Trump looks better in retrospect — all serious challenges for Biden in his upcoming re-election campaign.
In the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, 44% of Americans say their financial situation has worsened under Biden’s presidency, the highest number for a president in ABC/Post polls since 1986. Only 37% approve of his job performance, while 56% disapprove. Even fewer approve of Biden’s economic performance, 30%.
On handling immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border, Biden’s rating is even lower, with 23% approval. In terms of intensity of feeling, 20% strongly approve of his work overall, while 45% strongly disapprove. And the 74% who say he is too old for a second term are up 6 percentage points since May. Opinions that Trump is too old are also on the rise, but up to 50% in this poll conducted for ABC by Langer Research Associates.
The feeling of discontent with Biden is such that if a government shutdown occurs at the end of the month, 40% say they would primarily blame him and congressional Democrats, compared to 33% who would place blame on congressional Republicans — even though GOP infighting behind the budget impasse.
See PDF for full results, graphs and tables.
Trump, for his part, has improved in retrospect. When he reluctantly left office in January 2021, 38% of respondents approved of his job as president, essentially matching Biden’s current rating. But currently, looking back, 48% say they approve of Trump’s performance while he was in office, which is his peak as president. Nearly as many – 49% – disapprove of him now, compared to 60% when he left the White House.
The comparison to Biden may be a factor. Among the 56% of Americans who disapprove of Biden’s performance in office, 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 claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Sixty percent of Americans believe Biden legitimately won, and another 12% have no opinion; 29% think Biden did not win legitimately.
These views play a role in voting preferences at an early stage. A remarkable 62% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say the party should choose someone other than Biden as its nominee in 2024; just a third behind Biden. The desire for a different candidate is numerically high, but also consistent with past results (56-58%) from last year.
Who, if not Biden, is an open question. In an open-ended question, 8% expressed a preference for Kamala Harris, 8% for Bernie Sanders and 7% for Robert F. Kennedy Jr., with other mentions in the low single digits. Only “someone else” comes into play at 20%.
Trump enjoys much broader support within the party; 54% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents support him for the GOP nomination, again similar to previous results, and well ahead of his opposition. Ron DeSantis has 15% support, up from 25% (using a slightly different questioning approach) in May. Everyone else is in the single digits.
Head-to-head in a hypothetical November 2024 matchup, Trump has 51% support while Biden has 42%, a numerical increase of 3 points for Trump and a decrease of 2 points for Biden compared to a February ABC/Post poll, changes that are not statistically significant. significant.
There’s even less change from the most recent ABC/Post poll in May, which showed a 49-42% race (again with different, but comparable, question wording). Still, with Trump surpassing 50% — and other polls showing a tighter contest — a close look is warranted.
Various factors may be at play. Biden’s poor ratings, the extent of economic discontent, the immigration crisis and doubts about his age are clearly relevant. All have been the subject of extensive recent media coverage, focusing public discourse on negatives for the president. Trump, meanwhile, has used his criminal charges to bolster his base by claiming he is being politically persecuted and enjoying positive coverage of his status as a Republican Party frontrunner.
The order of the questions may be a factor. As is typical for ABC/Post polls at this early stage of an election cycle, this survey first asks about Biden and Trump’s performance, economic sentiment and a handful of other questions (aid to Ukraine, abortion and government shutdown) ahead of candidate preferences. . This is because these issues are more relevant than support for candidates in elections so far away. Given that many results are negative toward Biden, it follows that he is behind in terms of support for 2024. Nonetheless, these sentiments are real, have been consistently negative in recent surveys, and clearly mark the challenges ahead for Biden.
Another possible factor is messaging. A hypothetical voting preference question 14 months before an election bodes nothing; it is best viewed as an opportunity for the public to express what they like or dislike about the candidates. Biden is widely unpopular and there are many doubts about his fitness for a second term; Wherever they find themselves more than a year from now, a significant number of Americans are now taking the opportunity to express their discontent.
In one example of messaging, among people who believe the U.S. Constitution should prohibit Trump from becoming president again, 18% also support him over Biden for 2024. These people appear to express antipathy toward Biden, and not their support. for Trump.
In terms of sampling, this survey was carried out according to the historical methodology of the ABC/Post survey. The demographic results are typical. The same goes for partisan preferences; 25% of respondents identify as Democrats, 25% as Republicans, and 42% as independents. Forty-one percent are Democrats or independents who lean toward the Democratic Party; 45% are Republican or lean GOP, which is consistent this year.
Additionally, respondents who say they voted in 2020 say they supported Biden over Trump 50% to 46%, which is very close to the actual result, 51% to 47%.
The Trump-Biden results are essentially identical among those who report being registered to vote, 52 to 42 percent. Some polling analysts focus on this group, even though it takes more than a year to register, an activity on which political campaigns spend great effort. At this point, we are focusing on the general population to give voice to all adults, regardless of their current registration status.
Even with the general public dissatisfaction with Biden, some group-level results are notable. Among them:
- Biden has only 50% support from members of racial and ethnic minority groups (the same as in May), while Trump increased from 32 to 39 to 43% support among this group in ABC polls /This year’s post. Among Hispanics, it’s a surprising 50-44%, Trump-Biden, albeit with a small sample size.
- Among 18-35 year olds, Trump has a slight 53-38% advantage (slightly significant for this sample size). Still, that’s essentially where it was in May, and Trump was also numerically ahead in this group (although not significantly) by 50 to 43 percent in February.
- Trump gained 7 points compared to May among men, now a result of 61 to 34% against Biden. This is due to a 15-point gain for Trump among non-college-educated white men, a core group for him, at 79% support.
- Americans continue to oppose the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision ending the constitutional right to abortion, 64% to 30%. Biden is favored over Trump by critics of this decision by 57% to 35%. Supporters of the ruling party favor Trump by a much wider margin of 81 to 16 percent.
- Preferences have fluctuated among non-Hispanic white Catholics, an often contested group. They supported Trump over Biden by 63-33% in February; this figure fell to a standstill in May; and it is back to 66-32% now.
- Among people who said they voted for Trump in 2020, 96% still support him today. Biden, however, retains fewer of his 2020 supporters, 88%. Of the remainder, 7% currently support Trump (up from 3% in February), with the remainder undecided, supporting another candidate or not planning to participate.
- Among people who say they didn’t vote in 2020, Trump currently has a 57% to 32% advantage. It was 52-31% in May.
- Among the 62% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who oppose Biden’s inauguration, 16% say they would vote for Trump over Biden.
- The relationship between candidate preference and economic sentiment is strong. Among the 44% of Americans who say their financial situation has worsened under Biden’s presidency, Trump has an 84% to 12% advantage. Among those in the same financial situation – not worse off, but not better off either – the rate fluctuates between 66 and 25%, Biden-Trump, and is similar among the few countries that are better off.
Candidate preference outcomes are also differentiated by assessments of the national economy – which 74% of respondents rate negatively overall, with strong partisan differences. The survey dug deeper into this sentiment and found two major irritants: food prices, rated negatively (as not so good or bad) by 91%; and gas and energy prices, negatively assessed by 87%.
Not that the other assessments are rosy: 75% of them negatively assess the income of the average American. It is much lower for the unemployment rate, 57%, but remains negative, given the gloomy mood of public opinion.
This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and mobile phone September 15-20, 2023, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,006 adults. The partisan divides are 25-25-42%, Democratic-Republican-Independent. The results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 percentage points, including design effect. Sampling error is not the only source of differences in polls.
The investigation was conducted for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, with sampling and data collection by Abt Associates of Rockville, Maryland. See details on the survey methodology here.