Biden Faces Bleak Approval Numbers as He Starts Re-election Campaign
Voters are broadly dissatisfied with President Biden’s job performance and are opposed to re-electing him, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll — but they don’t like their top Republican alternatives either, reflecting a deep disconnect between what Americans want and the options available to them.
In hypothetical general-election matchups, Mr. Biden, who announced his re-election campaign last month, trailed the two leading candidates in the Republican primary, former President Donald J. Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida. Yet neither of them exceeded 45 percent in The Post’s poll, with many voters saying they were undecided or naming a different candidate.
In the Biden-Trump matchup, 44 percent of respondents said they would definitely or probably vote for Mr. Trump, and 38 percent for Mr. Biden. In the Biden-DeSantis matchup, 42 percent said they would definitely or probably vote for Mr. DeSantis, and 37 percent for Mr. Biden. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
As has been the case in polls for months, most Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters — 58 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus 5.5 percentage points — said they wanted the party to nominate “someone other than” Mr. Biden in 2024, though that preference in principle does not mean there is an actual candidate they prefer in practice. The Post did not ask voters about his primary challengers, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Marianne Williamson, but Mr. Biden led them by huge margins in other surveys.
Mr. Trump had more than twice as much support as Mr. DeSantis in the Republican primary, but not a majority: He was at 43 percent and Mr. DeSantis at 20 percent, according to the poll. No other Republican had more than 2 percent support, with 27 percent undecided.
In terms of voter opinion, the numbers for Mr. Biden were bleak. His approval rating was a dismal 36 percent, with 56 percent disapproving of his job performance (including 47 percent strongly disapproving). More than 60 percent said he lacked the physical health and “mental sharpness” to serve effectively as president.
Mr. Trump fared better on those prompts: 64 percent of voters said he was sufficiently physically fit, and 54 percent said he was mentally sharp. Voters also said, 54 percent to 36 percent, that Mr. Trump had done a better job handling the economy than Mr. Biden has.
Voters were more likely to see Mr. Biden as honest and trustworthy (41 percent) than to see Mr. Trump that way (33 percent), but neither man had majority support on that front.
A majority of voters said Mr. Trump should face criminal charges in three investigations: one regarding his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, one regarding his role in the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, and another regarding his handling of classified documents. A plurality, 49 percent, supported the charges already filed against him in a fourth case related to hush-money payments to a porn star.
In one more sign of the disconnect between desires and political reality, sizable minorities of the voters who said that Mr. Biden wasn’t mentally sharp enough to be president or that Mr. Trump deserved to be criminally charged said they would definitely or probably vote for one of them anyway.