By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, April 25, 2023
Biden/Harris Announce: Challenges Ahead? — On the four-year anniversary of announcing his victorious candidacy in 2019, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris declared they will run for re-election today.
With questions surrounding his personal longevity – currently at 80 years of age, Biden is already the oldest individual to occupy the office – the president plans to adopt the theme of ‘needing more time to finish the job’ that he originally outlined when he embarked upon his 2020 national campaign.
The recent NBC News poll, however, suggests that he will have some challenges in convincing voters to award him with a second term.
The NBC survey (April 14-18; 1,000 US adults; 800 US registered voters; live interview) begins with testing President Biden’s job approval. We see only 41 percent approving of his performance in office (15 percent strongly approve; 26 percent somewhat approve) and 54 percent expressing a negative opinion (45 percent strongly disapprove; nine percent somewhat disapprove).
The most troubling segment from the president’s perspective is his strong approval versus strong disapproval ratio, which is only 1:3 (15 percent to 45 percent), and negative intensity is always a clear warning sign.
Drilling down further into Biden’s job approval scores, the NBC pollsters asked about his performance within two specific issue areas, the economy and race relations.
As has been the case since August of 2021 in NBC polling, the president is upside-down regarding his handling of the US economy. In this current survey, only 38 percent approve of how he has managed the economy, while 58 percent disapprove. Though these ratings are poor, the current figures are an improvement over his nadir, which occurred in March of 2022 (33:63 percent).
On race relations, the trend is reversed. Two years ago, 49 percent of the NBC respondents believed the president was doing a good job in this area while 43 percent disagreed. In the current poll, however, his ratio has dropped to 43:41 percent.
The part of the poll attracting the most publicity covers responses to the question about whether the poll participants want him to seek re-election. Only 26 percent said they believe Biden should run again while a full 70 percent said he should not.
This result, however, is not the most troubling data point for President Biden. Answering the question as to whether the respondent would vote for Biden only 21 percent said they would definitely do so, while an additional 20 percent said they would “probably” vote for the president. Conversely, 39 percent said they would definitely vote for the Republican candidate with another eight percent saying they would probably do so. Therefore, the president trails a placebo Republican 41-47 percent.
But, the polling news is not all negative from Biden’s perspective. His most likely general election opponent, former President Donald Trump, also fares poorly.
Presumably, the most troubling aspect is the perception of the charges brought against him in New York. A total of 52 percent believe that Trump is being treated “as anyone else accused of doing what he did,” while only 43 percent buy into the former president’s line that he is being “unfairly targeted.”
While the number of people not wanting Biden to seek re-election are somewhat higher than those making a similar statement about former President Trump, the latter man’s numbers in this regard are also not good (35 percent he should run; 60 percent he should not).
While this NBC News poll portends rather badly for President Biden, the sentiments expressed may not make a major difference in the 2024 vote. Biden’s standing was similar, if not worse, before the 2022 midterm election and his party performed surprisingly well.
The expressed intensity of Trump’s negative numbers appears to be more important than the president’s poor job approval rating and the fact that people think his age is a major impediment to his serving in office. Therefore, results as we have witnessed in this latest national poll, which are commensurate with other recently conducted surveys, may not accurately depict the president’s standing when people are faced with the choice of either Biden or Trump.
It remains to be seen if Trump continues to cruise through the Republican nomination process, but if he does, it is reasonable to believe, at least during the outset, that the 2024 result likely won’t be much different than how the 2020 election unfolded.