Americans inclined to vote for Democratic President Joe Biden in 2024 say they are more motivated by stopping Donald Trump returning to the Oval Office than supporting the incumbent.
The two-day Reuters-Ipsos poll, which closed on Tuesday, showed Biden and Trump locked in a tight race, with the Republican leading 51 per cent to 49 per cent when respondents were asked to pick between the two.
Biden's supporters were more likely than those backing Trump to cast their vote to keep the other candidate from winning, a possible indicator of low enthusiasm for Biden as well as a deep disdain for Trump among many Democrats.
Some 50 per cent of Biden supporters described their vote as being "against Donald Trump and his policies," compared to 38 per cent who said they would vote "to support Joe Biden and his policies".
Twelve per cent of Biden's supporters said they were unsure which reason better explained their pick.
Among Trump's supporters, 40 per cent said they would be voting against Biden and 42 per cent said they would vote for Trump to support the Republican and his policies. The rest were unsure why.
Trump is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to challenge Biden, though neither has been formally nominated.
Democratic strategists said the poll bolsters the view Biden needs to make an affirmative case for his re-election, particularly in fiercely competitive states such as Georgia and North Carolina.
Many Americans remain unfamiliar with Biden's economic policies, which have led to Congress approving significant new investments in US infrastructure.
"Biden 100 per cent needs to be clearly articulating his economic vision," said Michael Ceraso, a Democratic strategist who worked on former President Barack Obama's 2008 and 2012 election campaigns.
"I don't think you can win Georgia this election cycle with it just being an anti-Trump message."
Jesse Ferguson, a strategist who worked for Democratic Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential bid, said Biden's team should use the data to draw comparisons with Trump rather than simply attack him.
Biden's campaign declined to comment on the poll and referred instead to a November 8 campaign memo that argued Biden's agenda was widely embraced and Trump was holding Republicans back because of his extremism.
A majority of Americans do back Biden's side of some key national debates, perhaps most critically when it comes abortion rights, with a Reuters-Ipsos poll in September showing Americans prefer Democrats to Republicans by two-to-one on protecting abortion access.
But Biden's presidency has nonetheless been defined in part by his own unpopularity, with his approval rating stuck around 40 per cent for much of the last year and a half.
Inflation has been historically high and many Americans, including many Democrats, have expressed concern about his advanced age.
At 80, Biden is already the oldest president ever to occupy the White House.
Many are fed up with both Biden and Trump.
The poll showed significant support for independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr, an anti-vaccine activist and scion of the storied political family.