Sitting presidents usually get the benefit of the doubt from their own party. But looking ahead, President Joe Biden might have problems whipping up Democratic enthusiasm for a second term. The opposite is true for former President Donald Trump, the latest TIPP Poll shows.
For the August TIPP Poll, we asked members of both parties a similar question: “If the (Democratic/Republican) presidential primary were held today, who would you vote for?” The national poll of 1,182 registered voters was conducted online from Aug. 2-4, with a margin of error of +/-2.9 percentage points.
For Biden, the poll is clearly bad news. Of the 576 Democrats in our sample, just 30% answered that, as of today, they would vote for “Joe Biden, 46th President of the United States.” They were given 20 other possibilities for voting, plus “other” and “not sure.”
The good news for Biden is that no one looms very large as a potential challenger. Michelle Obama, former first lady, received 10% of the poll votes, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Vice President Kamala Harris tied for third with 8% apiece.
Trailing a bit further behind were California Gov. Gavin Newsom (6%), former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton (5%), Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (all three at 4%). They, in turn, were followed by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez both received 3%.
The remaining candidates individually received 2% or less of the vote: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy (both 2%); Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (all at 1% support).
New York City Mayor Eric Adams, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet were all at the statistical equivalent of zero.
When you turn to the Republicans, however, a very different picture emerges. Donald Trump, the nation’s 45th president, gets a majority – 53% – of the 576 Republicans who responded to the poll, a clear majority.
He’s followed, in descending order, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (17%), former Vice President Mike Pence (10%), Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (3%), and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (2%).
Six others, including Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Florida Sen. Rick Scott received just 1% of the vote.
A handful of others, including New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton all received two votes or less apiece – statistically, zero support.
“Other” received 1%, while “not sure” got 8%.
A message emerges from these data. If current trends continue, Biden’s weak support from within his own party after more than a year and a half in office will almost certainly tempt challengers from the pack of other potential Democratic candidates.
It’s still early, with the Democratic primaries beginning in earnest in January 2024. But this has been a tough year for Biden politically.
In a recent Rasmussen poll, 53% agreed with the statement that “there is a group of politicized thugs at the top of the FBI that are using the FBI as Joe Biden’s personal Gestapo.”
An even more alarming poll for the Dems came from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. As reported by The Hill, that survey found that “A majority of Americans say the U.S. government is corrupt and almost a third say it may soon be necessary to take up arms against it.”
Another poll, this of 60,000 potential voters conducted by a progressive pollster, “suggests that Democrats can make up their lost ground if they talk about respect for work, value individual workers, and place government in a supporting rather than primary role,” according to Time Magazine.
And, Time added, “making villains of corporations isn’t the winner the left thinks it is.”
Unfortunately, those are all current GOP themes, and, if anything, they’re almost completely absent from the Democrats’ own current conversations with voters. It would take a huge political pivot by the party.
And, tougher still, voters seem to prefer Republicans’ economic ideas at a time when the economy remains the No. 1 issue.
Moreover, Biden shows notable below-average weakness in support among certain key voting blocs, among them suburban (25%), rural (26%), women (26%) and Hispanic (25%) voters, all below average. One notable exception: Among Democrats calling themselves “Conservative,” Biden gets his highest marks of all, 48%
Trump, meanwhile, faces an entirely different problem: While his base support is strong, the opposition seems dead-set on having him jailed or barred from holding high office, despite clear legal and constitutional difficulties with such a course.
The Aug. 8 raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago compound, in which boxes of Trump’s presidential papers and private communications were removed, and a threatened indictment for so-far unspecified crimes loom darkly over the former president’s prospects.
Nor can legal action related to Jan. 6 riots in the nation’s capital be discounted, although polls show for most people, it was a non-event.
Can someone run for president while fending off continuous legal assaults? Will Republican base voters tire of the trouble that has followed Trump now for six years? Will one of the Republicans emerge from the pack to beat Trump in the primaries?
Right now, the closest challenger is Florida’s DeSantis, who will have the stage of governor of a major state to improve his standing. But it’s unclear that any candidate now among those we’ve listed has the populist credentials of Trump.
As with Biden, Trump has some weaknesses: he gets just 44% of those over 65, a very active group of voters. And he’s surprisingly soft among suburban voters (49%), while solid with urban (53%) and rural (58%) voters.
But he has other strengths. While Trump tallies just 43% among Black Republican voters, he gets a whopping 59% of Hispanic votes. Only one other candidate, DeSantis (10%), gets double-digits from this increasingly influential group of voters.
And he finds even stronger favor among independents (56%) than he does among Republicans (53%). Even with his legal issues, Trump would be the clear favorite to win the primaries if they were held today. For the Democrats, it’s not so clear for President Biden.
Each month, I&I/TIPP publishes polling data on this topic and others of broad public interest. TIPP’s reputation for excellence comes from being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections.
Terry Jones is an editor of Issues & Insights. His four decades of journalism experience include serving as national issues editor, economics editor, and editorial page editor for Investor’s Business Daily.