It’s true that a poll in May 2023 does not necessarily predict the presidential election’s outcome in November 2024, but the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll that was conducted between April 28 and May 3 speaks volumes about how the voters perceive the two leading presumed candidates in their own parties, the incumbent President Joe Biden and the man he defeated in 2020, former President Donald Trump, or, more importantly, how the voters perceive Biden’s readiness to do the job four more years.
The results are brutal: Biden’s job approval is the lowest it has been, ever – only 36% of respondents believe he has what it takes to be President now, never mind four more years. A whopping 56% disapprove of his job performance. The website Five-Thirty-Eight, which runs a daily average of Biden’s approval rating has featured similar numbers in the past, but only from Republican-leaning polls, while the Democrat-leaning polls scored him in a consistent low-forties. But Washington Post-ABC News is not a Republican survey.
Here’s a point that illustrates how bad things are for the Democrats, 18 months away from election day: Joe Biden was born in 1942, making him 81 years old today. His opponent Donald Trump was born in 1946, which means he is 77, only 4 years younger. But while 68% of respondents say Biden is too old for another term as president, only 44% say Trump is too old. Both figures are across the board.
Or, as the survey’s author put it bluntly: “Beyond chronological age, Trump far surpasses Biden in being seen as having the mental sharpness and the physical health it takes to serve effectively as president, with wide doubts about Biden on both fronts.”
However, the survey’s authors point out that among people who say Biden is too old, 36% say they would vote for him anyway, presumably because of the alternative. The other 54% favor Trump. Also: among the respondents addressing the age issue, 68% say Biden is too old, but 62% say Trump is too old.
To give you another idea of how bad these numbers are for Biden, his approval rating is the lowest on record for a first-term president. Even Jimmy Carter, arguably the worst US president ever, who lost the Democrats the White House for 12 years, even Carter’s lowest job approval was only 37%. Trump hovered around 39% – and it cost him his second term.
As things look today, Trump will undoubtedly receive the GOP’s nomination against any of his competitors: When asked to list their choice, GOP voters picked Trump by 51% against DeSantis (25%), Nikki Haley (6%), Mike Pence (6%), and African American Senator from South Carolina Tim Scott (4%).
But Trump also appears to be doing better with the independents. According to the same Washington Post-ABC News poll, 44% of Americans say they’re going to “definitely or probably” vote for Trump, and only 38% want Biden. The missing 12% are undecided, but when asked, these undecideds prefer Trump over Biden by 49-42%.
Biden does almost as poorly against DeSantis: 42% want DeSantis, and only 37% prefer Biden. The undecided 16% lean 48-41% for DeSantis.
The Post-ABC News poll was conducted April 28 through May 3, among a random national sample of 1,006 U.S. adults, with 75 percent reached on cellphones and 25 percent on landlines. Overall results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The error margin is 5.5 points among the samples of 438 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and 396 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.