With President Biden reportedly set to announce his reelection campaign early next week, more Americans say they feel “exhaustion” over the prospect of a 2024 rematch between Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, than any other emotion, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll.
The survey of 1,530 U.S. adults, which was conducted from April 14 to 17, found that 38% chose exhaustion after being shown a list of eight feelings and asked to select all that “come to mind” when considering another Biden vs. Trump campaign.
Among registered voters, the number is even higher: 44%.
No other sentiment — not fear (29%), sadness (23%), hope (23%), anger (23%), excitement (16%), pride (8%) or gratitude (7%) — cracks the 30% mark among all Americans.
Fatigue is an understandable response to what could be the first general election for president since 1892 to feature the incumbent and his defeated predecessor competing as the major-party nominees — and the only White House race in U.S. history in which one candidate is facing indictment and possible criminal prosecution for conspiring to overturn his prior loss.
Yet voters are not quite as pessimistic about a Biden-Trump sequel as they were a few months ago. In December, a nearly a third of them (32%) told Yahoo News and YouGov that “if Joe Biden and Donald Trump run against each other for president again in 2024,” the result would be either “the worst thing that could happen” (15%) or “mostly bad” (17%); only 23% said it would be “mostly good” (11%) or “the best thing that could happen” (12%).
Now that 9-point gap has shrunk to just 3 points, with 29% of voters expressing a negative view and 26% of voters expressing a positive view. About 3 in 10 continue to say it’s “a mix of good and bad.” Positive views have increased since December among both Republicans (33%, up from 30%) and Democrats (24%, up from 17%).
Where the parties differ is that Republicans are more likely to see a rematch positively than negatively — while Democrats, despite some softening, are still more likely to see a rematch negatively than positively. Exhaustion, for instance, is more prevalent among Democrats (44%) than Republicans (26%) by a margin of 18 percentage points, and fear (+12 for Democrats), sadness (+15) and anger (+9) are more common on the left as well.
In contrast, Republicans express hope (+20), excitement (+10) and pride (+5) at greater rates than Democrats.
Much of the liberal aversion to another Biden-Trump contest likely reflects the former president’s staggering unpopularity among Democrats; a full 68% of them say they have a “very unfavorable” opinion of him.
Yet Democrats’ overall negativity also underscores their unease about Biden. More now say they would prefer to nominate the president (43%) over “someone else” (39%) — a reversal from the latter part of last year, when a plurality of Democrats repeatedly said they would prefer someone else. But Biden’s numbers among Democrats are a lot closer than Trump’s among Republicans, with whom Trump leads “someone else” by a 49% to 39% margin.
For Democrats, the problem is not Biden’s performance in office; they overwhelmingly approve (80%) rather than disapprove (16%) of how he is handling the job. Instead, anxiety about Biden’s status as the oldest president in U.S. history — he is 80 now and would be 86 at the end of his second term — seems to be sapping confidence in his candidacy.
Asked in June 2020 how concerned they were “about Joe Biden’s health and mental acuity,” just 28% of Democrats said they were either somewhat (10%) or very concerned (18%); the other 72% said they were either slightly (28%) or not at all concerned (44%).
More than two and a half years later, however, the combined number of somewhat or very concerned Democrats has risen 12 points to about 40%, while the combined number who are slightly or not at all concerned has fallen by the same amount, to about 60%, according to a Yahoo News/YouGov poll from late February.
Overall, nearly 7 in 10 voters (68%) said in February that Biden would be “too old for another term” — and more Democrats agreed (48%) than disagreed (34%).
The good news for the president is that even though his job approval rating remains below 50% among all Americans, it is now at its highest level (44%) since September 2021 (up from about 40% for much of 2022). His approval rating on the economy (at 40%) is now 4 points higher than it was in early February, while his approval rating on inflation (36%) has increased by 5 points over the same period. And he performs 3 or 4 points better on each of those measures among registered voters.
Heading into 2024, Biden’s approval numbers are still lower than the White House would like them to be. Yet current trend lines seem to be favoring the president over his recently indicted predecessor. In a general election matchup, Biden now enjoys a 4-point lead over Trump (46% to 42%) among registered voters. One month ago, Biden led Trump by just 2 points.
The Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,530 U.S. adults interviewed online from April 14 to 17, 2023. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to March 15, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (32% Democratic, 27% Republican). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. adults. The margin of error is approximately 2.8%.