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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Biden faces bleak approval numbers as he starts reelection campaign

President Joe Biden meets with his Investing in America Cabinet at the White House in Washington, May 5, 2023.

By Maggie Astor

Voters are broadly dissatisfied with President Joe Biden’s job performance and are opposed to reelecting him, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll — but they don’t like their top Republican alternatives either, reflecting a deep disconnect between what Americans want and the options available to them.

In hypothetical general-election matchups, Biden, who announced his reelection campaign last month, trailed the two leading candidates in the Republican primary, former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Yet, neither of them exceeded 45% in the Post’s poll, with many voters saying they were undecided or naming a different candidate.

In the Biden-Trump matchup, 44% of respondents said they would definitely or probably vote for Trump, and 38% for Biden. In the Biden-DeSantis matchup, 42% said they would definitely or probably vote for DeSantis, and 37% for Biden. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

As has been the case in polls for months, most Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters — 58%, with a margin of error of plus or minus 5.5 percentage points — said they wanted the party to nominate “someone other than” Biden in 2024, although that preference in principle does not mean there is an actual candidate they prefer in practice. The Post did not ask voters about his primary challengers, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Marianne Williamson, but Biden led them by huge margins in other surveys.

Trump had more than twice as much support as DeSantis in the Republican primary, but not a majority: He was at 43% and DeSantis at 20%, according to the poll. No other Republican had more than 2% support, with 27% undecided.

In terms of voter opinion, the numbers for Biden were bleak. His approval rating was a dismal 36%, with 56% disapproving of his job performance (including 47% strongly disapproving). More than 60% said he lacked the physical health and “mental sharpness” to serve effectively as president.

Trump fared better on those prompts: 64% of voters said he was sufficiently physically fit, and 54% said he was mentally sharp. Voters also said, 54% to 36%, that Trump had done a better job handling the economy than Biden has.

Voters were more likely to see Biden as honest and trustworthy (41%) than to see Trump that way (33%), but neither man had majority support on that front.

A majority of voters said Trump should face criminal charges in three investigations: one regarding his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, one regarding his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the Capitol, and another regarding his handling of classified documents. A plurality, 49%, supported the charges already filed against him in a fourth case related to hush-money payments to a porn star.

In one more sign of the disconnect between desires and political reality, sizable minorities of the voters who said that Biden wasn’t mentally sharp enough to be president or that Trump deserved to be criminally charged said they would definitely or probably vote for one of them anyway.

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