Iowa Poll: Most think Joe Biden should not run again in 2024 as approval rating falls

President Joe Biden announces new policies for ethanol blends of gasoline at POET Bioprocessing, on Tuesday, April 12, 2022, in rural Menlo, Iowa.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

© Copyright 2022, Des Moines Register and Tribune Co.

Less than a quarter of Iowans say they think President Joe Biden should make another run for the White House in 2024, even as he insists he will seek a second term in office.

According to a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll, 23% of Iowans say they hope Biden, 79, runs for president again, while 67% say they hope he does not. Nine percent are not sure.

The results come as Biden has begun arguing that he remains the best option to take on his former rival, Republican President Donald Trump. Trump, 76, reportedly is weighing his own campaign announcement as early as this month. Comparatively, at 32%, more Iowans think Trump should run again than think Biden should, a 9 percentage-point difference.

Overall, the poll paints a bleak picture for Biden, who is about a year and a half into his first term.

Even among Democrats, just 37% say he should run again. More Iowans say the nation is headed in the wrong direction today than at the peak of the Great Recession in 2008. And Biden's job approval, at 27%, is now the second-lowest rating of any president measured by the Iowa Poll.

Jean Davis, an 87-year-old independent voter and poll respondent, said she voted for Biden in 2020 because “he had a real good character and a lot of experience.”

But she thinks he’s too old to run again in 2024 and hopes he steps aside.

“The presidency is too hard, physically, on anybody that's there,” said Davis, a Council Bluffs resident. “He might have it mentally. But, physically, I don't think he's capable.”

Selzer & Co. conducted the poll of 811 Iowa adults, including 597 likely voters, July 10-13. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for questions asked of all Iowans and 4 percentage points for questions asked of likely voters.

Biden’s ‘abysmal’ approval ratings hit new low

Biden’s 27% approval rating, a new low for him in Iowa, is down 8 percentage points since March, when his approval ratings were at 35%.

Today, 67% of Iowans say they disapprove of the job he’s doing — up from 59%. And 6% say they aren’t sure.

Poll respondent Rex Cain, a 58-year-old Democrat and Sioux City resident, said he approves of the job Biden is doing. And although he concedes the president could be doing “a little bit more,” Cain blamed Congress, particularly West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, both centrist Democrats, for blocking much of the president’s agenda.

“He can't get a lot of this passed because he's not getting the support that he needs,” he said.

Among Democrats, 71% approve of the job Biden is doing. But just 4% of Republicans approve, as well as 23% of independents.

Biden has not fared well in Iowa, coming in fourth place during the 2020 Democratic presidential caucuses and losing the state to Trump by about 8 percentage points in the general election later that year.

Throughout his first term, Biden has dealt with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a bumpy economy with rising inflation and high gas prices, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortion.

“Biden’s job approval rating is, let’s just say, abysmal,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co.

It is the second-lowest job approval rating of any president measured by the Register’s Iowa Poll. Republican President George W. Bush scored 2 percentage points lower in September 2008, earning a 25% approval rating. The Iowa Poll, founded in 1943, has tested presidential job approval since 1953 with Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Iowa Poll: Voters prefer Republicans in 3 of 4 US House races — except in 3rd District

Biden’s approval numbers have fallen as more Iowans say things in the nation have gotten off on the wrong track.

Today, just 10% of Iowans say they believe things in the country are headed in the right direction — down from 23% in March. The vast majority — 84% — now say things are on the wrong track.

Selzer called it “a historic mark,” noting that the new numbers are worse than they were during the Great Recession in 2008 — the poll’s previous low point. Then, 18% of Iowans said they believed things in the country were headed in the right direction. The poll has asked about the nation's direction since the late 1990s.

Selzer said the sharp decline since the last Iowa Poll, in March, has been among Democrats. Then, 60% of Democrats said the country was on the right track. Today, it’s 26%. Among those who voted for Biden, it’s even lower, with just 22% saying things are on the right track.

‘I think he can be beaten,’ Republican respondent says

The numbers come as voters and political pundits debate whether it’s wise for Biden to seek a second term. He has repeatedly said he plans to run again. More recently, he has appeared to relish the opportunity to take on Trump again.

“I’m not predicting. But I would not be disappointed,” Biden said about the possibility earlier this month.

While 37% of Democrats say they hope he launches a reelection campaign, 52% say they hope he does not. Among those who voted for him in 2020, even fewer — 33% — hope he launches a new campaign.

“It seems to me like, mentally, he possibly could be slipping,” said Cain, the poll respondent from Sioux City. “I’m not for certain. … But from what I see and hear, it's like, oh, that's not good, fella. Especially if he has to be prompted what to say or has to be careful of what he says."

Still, Cain said he would vote for Biden again if he were the nominee.

The poll did not measure Biden’s strength in a head-to-head matchup with Trump or with other Democrats. The results mirror other national polls, including one by the New York Times, which found 26% of Democratic voters said he should be renominated in 2024.

“This is not to say that Biden couldn't win the nomination if he decided to run,” Selzer said.

But some Republicans, like 77-year-old Bonnie Jenison, see that lack of support among Democrats as a sign of weakness. She said she hopes Biden does decide to run again.

“I think he can be beaten,” said the Ames resident and poll respondent. “Even his own people don’t want him to run.”

She said she disapproves of the way Biden has handled international conflict, the military withdrawal from Afghanistan, the border and issues in schools.

“The kids aren’t even learning our history,” she said. “Yeah, it’s a big mess.”

About the poll

The Iowa Poll, conducted July 10-13, 2022, for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, is based on telephone interviews with 811 Iowans ages 18 or older. Interviewers with Quantel Research contacted households with randomly selected landline and cellphone numbers supplied by Dynata. Interviews were administered in English. Responses were adjusted by age, sex and congressional district to reflect the general population based on recent American Community Survey estimates.

Questions based on the sample of 811 Iowa adults have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Questions based on the subsample of 597 likely voters in the 2022 general election have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 4.0 percentage points. This means that if this survey were repeated using the same questions and the same methodology, 19 times out of 20, the findings would not vary from the true population value by more than plus or minus 3.4 percentage points or 4.0 percentage points, respectively. Results based on smaller samples of respondents — such as by gender or age — have a larger margin of error.

Republishing the copyright Iowa Poll without credit to the Register and Mediacom is prohibited.

Iowa Poll Methodology

Brianne Pfannenstiel is the chief politics reporter for the Register. Reach her at or 515-284-8244. Follow her on Twitter at @brianneDMR.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Joe Biden's approval rating falls to a new low, Iowa Poll shows