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Just 18% of Americans say President Biden should run for reelection in 2024, according to the latest Yahoo News/YouGov poll — the lowest number to date. Nearly two-thirds (64%) say he should bow out.
And for the first time, more Democrats now say Biden should pass on a second term (41%) than say he should pursue one (35%).
The survey of 1,672 U.S. adults, which was conducted from July 8 to July 11, represents perhaps the starkest evidence to date of the president’s deteriorating position with voters — including those in his own party. Since late May, the number of Americans who say Biden should run for reelection has fallen by 7 points; among Democrats, that number has fallen by 8 points.
Meanwhile, when asked “who they would rather see as the Democratic nominee for president in 2024,” only about a quarter (27%) of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents now say Biden. Fewer say Vice President Kamala Harris (19%); most say either “someone else” (20%), they’re “not sure” (30%) or that they “wouldn’t vote” (4%).
No U.S. president has declined to run for reelection since Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968, and Biden has repeatedly insisted — both publicly and privately — that he will compete for a second term.
But given his advanced age (he’ll turn 82 shortly after the next presidential election) and low approval ratings, several national outlets have published recent stories about Democrats’ emerging interest in some sort of plan B.
And it is that level of discontent within Biden’s own party that distinguishes him from his likeliest 2024 rival: former President Donald Trump.
Trump is hardly popular. Among registered voters, Biden still leads 44% to 43% in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup between the two presidents — despite Biden’s weakened standing. Amid the Jan. 6 hearings, most voters (52%) now think “Trump committed a crime by trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election”; even more (54%) think the U.S. Department of Justice should prosecute him. And nearly 6 in 10 Americans (59%) say that Trump shouldn’t run for president again either. Only 28% say he should.
The difference is that Republicans are far less likely than Democrats to express dissatisfaction with their party’s de facto leader.
On the question of whether either man should run again, for instance, 89% of Democrats say Trump shouldn’t — and 87% of Republicans say the same about Biden. Polarization and partisanship are remarkably consistent on both sides.
Yet a full 60% of Republicans still insist that Trump should make another go of it in 2024 — nearly twice Biden’s number among Democrats (35%). Likewise, the share of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who say they’d “prefer” Trump as the party’s next nominee (50%) is also roughly double the share of Democrats and Democratic leaners who say the same about Biden (27%).
At the same time, independents don’t want either man to run again — but far more of them say Biden should skip 2024 (71%) than Trump (58%).
It’s no surprise that Americans who lean right disapprove of Biden; those numbers tend to remain at rock bottom no matter what he does. But why is the president losing so much steam on his own side?
The poll offers some clues. In the wake of several unpopular Supreme Court decisions, even most Democrats (53%) now say the country is “off on the wrong track”; less than a third (32%) say it’s “generally headed in the right direction.” Significant minorities of Democrats say they disapprove of how the president is handling abortion (27%), guns (30%) — and most of all inflation (35%).
And on several key measures of leadership, Biden’s numbers have fallen as much on the left as elsewhere.
In August 2020, Yahoo News and YouGov asked poll respondents to look at a list of eight “qualities” and select every one they associate with Biden. Back then, more than 60% of Democrats chose empathy, honesty, competence, responsibility, decency and intelligence. Most also thought Biden showed strength (55%).
Nearly two years later, Democrats are just as likely — or more likely, in some cases — to say Biden displays empathy (69%), honesty (64%), responsibility (64%) and decency (66%). But they’re significantly less likely to say he demonstrates strength (down 15 points, to 40%); competence (down 12 points, to 52%); or intelligence (down 5 points, to 56%). In other words, most Democrats still think the president is a good person; it’s his political skills they’ve come to doubt.
Other new poll results support this interpretation. After Biden’s first 100 days in office, for instance, respondents were asked whether he’d kept his promises. Back then, nearly three-quarters of Democrats (72%) said the president had done “all” (25%) or “most” (47%) of what he pledged to do. Today, that combined number is nearly 30 points lower (44%), with just 10% of Democrats saying Biden has kept all of his promises and just 34% saying he’s kept most of them.
In the same April 2021 survey, two-thirds of Democrats (67%) said Biden had been a better president than they expected. Now just 27% of Democrats continue to say that — while the number willing to say Biden has been “worse” than expected has more than tripled (to 17%).
Finally, most Americans (56%) now feel that Biden is not “up to the challenges facing the U.S.” — including one in five Democrats. Another one in five say they’re “not sure.”
The Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,672 U.S. adults interviewed online from July 8 to 11, 2022. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2020 presidential vote (or nonvote) and voter registration status. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. adults. The margin of error is approximately 2.6%.