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Age, Issues Working to Trump's Advantage Pre-Debate

Age, Issues Working to Trump's Advantage Pre-Debate

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Heading into the first debate of the 2024 presidential campaign some four months before Election Day, Donald Trump is viewed more positively than President Joe Biden across a range of measures, though neither candidate has a favorable image overall. Part of Trump’s advantage stems from the much more positive reviews the former president receives from his own party faithful than Biden receives from his.

These findings are from a June 3-23 Gallup poll that began several days after Trump was convicted of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in New York.

The poll finds that about twice as many Republicans are pleased with Trump being the GOP nominee as Democrats are with Biden leading their party’s ticket.

Overall, less than half of Americans view either candidate favorably, think either has the personality and leadership qualities a president should have, and say they agree with either on the issues that are most important to them.

While Biden and Trump -- the two oldest major party candidates to seek the U.S. presidency -- are separated by just three years in age, Americans perceive Biden’s advanced age as a far greater liability. Biden is also viewed as too liberal by a majority of Americans, whereas public opinion of Trump’s ideology is mixed.

Republicans More Pleased Than Democrats With Their Party’s Nominee

Republicans (79%) are nearly twice as likely as Democrats (42%) to say they are pleased with their party’s nominee. A majority of Democrats (56%) would prefer another candidate.

In the summer of 2020, when Trump and Biden first ran against each other, Republicans’ views of Trump were similar to how they are now. Democrats were more positive about Biden four years ago, with 56% satisfied, though they were still far less positive about him than Republicans were about Trump.


Gallup has not regularly tracked this sentiment, but several readings provide some context for the latest findings. After Hillary Clinton secured the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in 2016, 64% of Democrats said they were pleased she was their candidate. In a similar question that asked if partisans were “satisfied” (rather than “pleased”) with their party’s nominee in 2012, 84% of Democrats were satisfied with Barack Obama, who was running as an incumbent.

On the Republican side, 45% of Republicans were pleased with Trump in 2016 after the GOP convention, and 66% were satisfied with Mitt Romney when he became their party's presumptive nominee in 2012.

Trump’s Favorability Is Up, Biden’s Is Down

Both Biden and Trump are viewed unfavorably by majorities of Americans, but Trump’s favorability shows improvement, while Biden’s has worsened. Trump’s favorable rating (46%) has increased by four percentage points since the prior reading in December and is the highest for him since April 2020. At the same time, Biden’s favorable rating has dipped by the same four-point margin to 37%, his lowest since 2007, when he was unknown to many Americans.

Leading up to the 2020 election, Biden’s and Trump’s favorable ratings were no more than four points apart, and more recently, in two 2023 readings, the ratings of the two men were tied. Similarly, in May, Gallup’s “scalometer” measure found Biden and Trump tied in favorability.


Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is viewed favorably by 38% of Americans, which is 14 points lower than his prior rating in December. Kennedy’s favorability dropped the most among Democrats (-26 points) and independents (-13 points) and the least among Republicans (-7 points).

Republicans offer a more positive assessment of their party’s candidate than Democrats do -- 91% of Republicans view Trump favorably, and 81% of Democrats view Biden favorably. Independents view Trump and Kennedy more favorably than Biden.


Trump Edges Out Biden as Having Presidential Personality and Leadership

Less than half of Americans view Biden or Trump as having the personality and leadership qualities a president needs. The 46% of U.S. adults who think Trump possesses these traits includes 87% of Republicans, 43% of independents and 10% of Democrats.

Fewer Americans, 38%, think Biden possesses such personality and leadership qualities. Eighty-one percent of Democrats, 35% of independents and 4% of Republicans believe Biden embodies these characteristics.


In October 2019, as Trump sought reelection, 38% of Americans said he had the personality and leadership qualities a president needs. At that time, the public was evenly divided over whether Biden possessed these traits, with 49% saying he did.

Six in 10 Americans Disagree With Biden on Key Issues

Americans are evenly divided over whether they agree or disagree with Trump on the issues that matter most to them, with 49% taking each position. When it comes to their agreement with Biden’s stances on the issues they value most, 37% of U.S. adults say they agree with him, while 61% disagree.

More than nine in 10 Republicans, 93%, agree with Trump on key issues, while 81% of Democrats say the same of Biden. Independents are more aligned with Trump (46%) than Biden (34%) on issues.


Biden’s Age Is a Bigger Liability Than Trump’s

At 81, Biden is three years older than Trump, who turned 78 this month. Despite their similar ages, Americans are nearly twice as likely to say Biden is too old to be president (67%) as say this about Trump (37%). These results are in line with prior Gallup polling showing that 31% of Americans are willing to vote for a presidential candidate over age 80 and 63% are willing to vote for a candidate over age 70.

Half of respondents polled in the June survey were asked whether each candidate is too old to be president; the other half of respondents were asked if they are concerned that each candidate is too old to be president. The results are similar, with 59% “very concerned” about Biden’s age versus 18% about Trump’s. When factoring in those who are “somewhat concerned,” a combined 76% are concerned Biden is too old for the job, while 38% are concerned about Trump.


Biden’s age is not just a potential liability among Republicans and independents -- majorities of whom say he is too old and are very concerned about it -- but also among a sizable minority of Democrats. Forty-four percent of Democrats say Biden is too old, and 31% are very worried about it.

Prior to Trump (age 70 in 2017) and Biden (age 78 in 2021), the oldest president had been Ronald Reagan, who was 69 at the start of his presidency in 1981 and 77 when he left office in 1989.

Majority See Biden as Too Liberal, Fewer Say Trump Is Too Conservative

When asked to characterize the candidates’ political ideology, Americans largely say Biden is too liberal. Fifty-six percent see him this way, three in 10 say his views are about right, and 9% consider him too conservative.

By contrast, a 44% plurality of Americans think Trump is too conservative, 38% say his views are about right, and 10% say he is too liberal.


This is the first time Gallup has measured public perceptions of Biden’s ideology, but the second for Trump. The first was measured in 2019, about halfway through Trump’s presidency. At that time, the public was evenly divided between seeing him as too conservative (39%) and about right (38%), while 17% thought he was too liberal.

Most partisans say their presidential candidate’s views are about right, but more Republicans feel this way about Trump (78%) than Democrats do about Biden (69%).

Political independents are also more likely to characterize Trump’s politics as about right than Biden’s, at 34% and 25%, respectively. The majority of independents (56%) think Biden is too liberal, while 43% say Trump is too conservative.


Bottom Line

With both candidates well-known to Americans, the stakes are high ahead of the first presidential debate of 2024, as Biden and Trump both have to overcome significant obstacles with the public. Biden appears to be at a bigger disadvantage ahead of the debate as his approval rating has been stagnating at a historically weak 38% and his favorable rating has now fallen to the same level.

Americans believe they are less aligned with Biden than Trump on the issues they view as most important and on their political ideology. Although the candidates are close in age, Biden’s age is more of a barrier for voters than Trump’s, and the debate will be a key moment for him to prove to a large national audience that he is up to the job of being president at an advanced age.

Although Republicans are more united in their positivity about Trump than Democrats are about Biden, this may be partly due to the timing of the latest poll, which came on the heels of Trump’s felony convictions and could have served to rally his supporters. Meanwhile, the campaign trail has not been kind to Kennedy, whose favorable rating has tumbled over the past six months, particularly among Democrats and independents. Kennedy did not qualify for the debate.

The race is far from over, with more than four months remaining until Election Day -- including the debates and both parties’ national nominating conventions, which have the potential to shift Americans’ views.

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