By Samantha Flom
Two polls released over the weekend produced bad news for President Joe Biden, with both showing that Americans largely disapprove of his job performance, and one showing him losing a hypothetical rematch against former President Donald Trump—by a substantial margin.
According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll (pdf) released on Sept. 24, among registered voters, President Trump would trounce his successor 52–42 percent if the 2024 presidential election were held now.
Another key finding was that President Biden has a disapproval rating of 56 percent—the highest of his presidency—and an approval rating of just 37 percent.
On the other hand, public approval of President Trump’s job performance has increased since he left office, spiking to 48 percent, from 38 percent on Jan. 13, 2021. The latest rating matches his highest recorded during his presidency on March 25, 2020.
And while his disapproval rating is still higher at 49 percent, that number marks a sharp decrease from the 60 percent disapproval he had following the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.
Meanwhile, an NBC News poll (pdf) released the same day showed the same level of disapproval—56 percent—for President Biden’s job performance, but had the Trump-Biden matchup in a neck-and-neck tie, with each garnering 46 percent of the vote.
However, that result marks an improvement for President Trump since June, when the same poll showed him losing the race 45–49 percent.
Additionally, both polls agreed the 45th president is gaining ground with Republican voters as he seeks the party’s presidential nomination for a third time.
According to NBC News, his primary support has jumped from 51 percent in June to 59 percent, widening his lead over his nearest competitor, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, to a whopping 43 points. The Post has him at 54 percent—up 11 points from May—with a 39-point advantage.
Doubts and Concerns
The two surveys’ respondents gave President Biden low marks across the board for his handling of key issues.
For example, most voters found both his foreign policy decisions and management of the southern border disappointing. But it was his handling of the economy that drew the most dissatisfaction, earning him the disapproval of 59 percent of NBC respondents and 64 percent of Post respondents, respectively.
Despite that lack of enthusiasm, President Biden has continued to assure the public that “Bidenomics” is “working,” traveling the country in recent weeks to tout the Inflation Reduction Act and his administration’s investments in green energy projects.
Another significant concern voters highlighted was the president’s declining health.
When he assumed the presidency in 2021, President Biden, at 78, was already the oldest person to have ever held the office (President Reagan was 77 when he left office and President Trump was 74).
Soon to be 81, if he were to win a second term, that would mean he would leave office in 2029 at the age of 86.
And that possibility worries many voters—nearly three-quarters, in fact, according to the NBC News survey. When asked their level of concern regarding the president’s mental and physical health, 74 percent said they had either major or moderate concerns that he was not healthy enough for a second term—a 6-point increase in just three months.
Conversely, a majority of voters (52 percent) had only minor, if any, concerns about the health of President Trump, who is 77.
Media Downplays Results
The Post survey has been scrutinized by some media outlets—including the Post itself—as it paints a very different picture of the presidential race from other recent polling.
Conducted Sept. 15-20, the poll involved a random sample of 1,006 adults, including 890 registered voters, with a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
Among the criticisms of the survey is the fact that the sample included more voters who lean Republican than Democrat.
“The Post-ABC poll shows Biden trailing Trump by 10 percentage points at this early stage in the election cycle, although the sizable margin of Trump’s lead in this survey is significantly at odds with other public polls that show the general election contest a virtual dead heat,” the Post wrote in reporting the results.
“The difference between this poll and others, as well as the unusual makeup of Trump’s and Biden’s coalitions in this survey, suggest it is probably an outlier,” the outlet added.
The Trump campaign, however, has pointed to the poll’s results as evidence of his support among Republicans and that Mr. DeSantis’ campaign is “on life-support.”
“Ron’s tired excuses for why he’s running have been shredded into a million pieces with a new poll from Washington Post/ABC showing President Trump beating Crooked Joe Biden by a whopping 10 points in a general election matchup. The survey also shows President Trump clobbering DeSanctimonious with a 39-point lead (54% to 15%),” the campaign said in a Sept. 25 statement.
The former president himself also called out ABC News on social media for neglecting to mention the survey’s results with respect to his matchup against President Biden.
“They spend millions of dollars on these polls, and then, if the result isn’t what they want it to be, refuse to properly report the results,” he wrote in a Truth Social post. “This is what Fake News is all about, and the public has quickly gotten wise to it. ABC Fake News should be ashamed!!!”
Emel Akan contributed to this report.