- Biden viewed favorably by 41% of U.S. adults, versus 49% in October 2020
- Trump’s 42% favorable rating is down slightly from 45% in 2020
- Biden has seen most loss of support among young adults and people of color
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are tied in favorability with the American people, but each is viewed less well than when the two faced off in 2020.
Biden is viewed favorably by 41% of U.S. adults, eight percentage points below his 49% favorable rating in October 2020. Mirroring the trend in his job approval ratings, his favorability is down by more than 15 points from his elevated ratings above 50% in his first year as president.
Trump’s 42% favorable rating is slightly lower than his 45% reading in October 2020 but improved from his weaker ratings in 2021 and 2022 when he faced intense criticism over his handling of the election outcome, including the Jan. 6 riots.
The latest results are from a Gallup poll conducted Dec. 1-20, with 1,013 U.S. adults. While these ratings represent the American people’s overall feelings about the two front-runners for the 2024 presidential nominations, they do not necessarily reflect the views of the voters who will go to the polls in November.
The same poll measured Americans’ overall impressions of Trump’s chief rivals for the Republican presidential nomination -- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley -- as well as independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Kennedy easily tops the list with a 52% favorable rating, while Haley and DeSantis are each viewed favorably by about a third. However, Haley’s net image is the more positive of the two, given her lower unfavorable rating (34% to DeSantis’ 52%). A larger proportion of Americans have no opinion of Haley (34%) than of DeSantis (16%), but the Haley figures preceded the recent controversy over her responses at a New Hampshire town hall when she failed to mention slavery as a cause of the U.S. Civil War.
It is unclear how much Kennedy's rating is influenced by his family name as opposed to people’s knowledge of him personally. However, his much bigger hurdle to electability at this point is petitioning onto the ballot as an independent in enough states to be a viable candidate.
Among Republicans, Trump is viewed best (at 79% favorable, 19% unfavorable), followed by DeSantis (63%, 24%) and then Haley (44%, 24%). Again, Haley’s figures are lower because far more Republicans say they don’t know her well enough to express an opinion (or haven’t heard of her) than can’t comment on DeSantis.
Biden’s Image Down Most Among Young and Non-White Adults
Since he won the presidency, Biden’s favorable rating has fallen among nearly all major subgroups of society, but the decline has been particularly pronounced among two: young adults and people of color.
After receiving similar ratings near 50% from all age groups in October 2020, Biden is now viewed most favorably by older adults (47%) and least favorably by those aged 18 to 34 (30%). The 18-point decline in his rating from young adults is double what he has suffered among middle-aged adults, while he has hardly lost any ground with older adults.
While it is not possible to look at this trend among Black or Hispanic adults separately because of low sample sizes, Biden continues to be viewed more favorably by people of color, generally, than by White adults. However, his rating is far lower today than in October 2020 among people of color (down 16 points to 48%) than among White adults (down four points to 38%).
Biden has also lost more support since the 2020 election from supporters of his own party (down 13 points to 82%) than among independents (down nine points to 38%). There has been little change among Republicans, given the minimal percentage viewing him favorably to begin with.
While Young Adults Cool on Biden, They Haven’t Warmed to Trump
Despite feeling less positively toward Biden, young adults’ views of Trump are no different today than in October 2020, with 42% viewing him positively now as they did then. Trump’s rating is also back to 44% among middle-aged adults, while it is seven points lower, at 41%, among adults aged 55 and older.
On the other hand, after seeing his support sink to 15% among people of color in 2021, Trump’s image among this group has more than rebounded. People of color are now eight points more likely to view him favorably than they were heading into the 2020 election (35% today vs. 27% then). White adults, however, are less positive toward Trump now (46%) than in 2020 (54%).
Trump has also lost ground with college graduates (down nine points in favorability) and Republicans (down 16 points) while seeing little to no change among non-college graduates, independents or Democrats.
Biden and Trump Ratings Differ by Gender, Age, Race and Education
The net result of these changes is that Biden and Trump are now viewed favorably by roughly equal percentages of Americans, but Trump has the better image among men, young adults, White adults, non-college graduates and Republicans, while Biden is seen better by women, older Americans, people of color, college graduates and Democrats.
Middle-aged adults and independents currently have similar views of Biden and Trump, in line with the national averages.
Meanwhile, sitting in the political wings, Kennedy enjoys majority-level favorable ratings from most subgroups of Americans, including from all major gender, race and age groups. Despite his Democratic name and long-term party affiliation, he is viewed favorably by majorities of Republicans and independents versus about four in 10 Democrats.
Since the 2020 election, Biden’s favorability has evolved -- initially improving during his first year in office, as usually happens for winning candidates, but then plummeting by 2022, likely reflecting the decline in his job approval rating amid perceived policy failures. His favorable rating has since remained at the lower level, with his image especially marred among young adults and people of color, a major concern for the Democratic Party since those are two key constituencies it needs to turn out to win.
Trump is not the direct beneficiary of all of Biden’s image woes, as his own favorable rating is slightly worse than at the time of the last election. But he has gained enough among people of color to nearly offset his nine-point decline in favorability among White adults.
While Kennedy has a long way to go to demonstrate his candidacy is viable, he has yet to undergo the scrutiny that comes with that position. That may partly explain why he is currently viewed favorably by half or more adults, including across many subgroups. However, were his positive image to hold and all three candidates wind up on the ballot in November, Kennedy could appeal to that segment of voters who are resistant to Biden but are also not sold on Trump.
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