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The survey of 1,638 U.S. adults, which was conducted from July 13-17, goes a step further than previous soundings by both Yahoo News/YouGov and other outlets, which have tended to ask whether Biden and Trump should run again — and have tended to find that most Americans would rather they didn’t.
Instead, the new poll asked a more pointed question: Whether the two human beings most likely to occupy the Oval Office come January 2025 are worthy of the position.
A full 55% of Americans say Biden is not. A statistically identical 53% say the same of Trump.
Why Americans have soured on Trump and Biden
Partisanship and polarization, as usual, play a starring role here. A near-unanimous 94% of Trump’s 2020 voters say Biden is not fit to serve as president again; 91% of Biden’s 2020 voters say the same about Trump.
To be sure, more Americans say yes when asked if Trump is fit to serve again (36%) than say yes about Biden (27%). But even that gap is almost entirely down to partisan differences, as Trump voters are more likely to affirm Trump’s fitness (76%) than Biden voters are to affirm Biden’s (62%).
But Biden still enjoys more overall support than Trump. Among registered voters, the current president leads his predecessor by 4 points (47% to 43%) — a margin that matches last month’s Yahoo News/YouGov survey.
When Americans who see Biden or Trump as unfit for the presidency are asked why they feel that way, serious concerns about both candidates emerge. Among Biden’s detractors, 20% say he is unfit because he is “incompetent”; 12% say it’s because he’s “too old”; 10% say it’s because he’s “corrupt”; 9% say it’s because he’s “doing a bad job”; and 3% say it’s because he’s “dangerous.”
Trump’s numbers, meanwhile, are nearly reversed, with 21% of his detractors saying he’s unfit because he is dangerous, 17% saying it’s because he’s corrupt, 6% saying it’s because he’s incompetent, 5% saying it’s because “he did a bad job during his first term”; and just 2% saying it’s because he is too old. (Biden is 80; Trump is 77.)
More troubling news for Trump than Biden
Trump continues to dominate the Republican field among potential GOP primary voters, with more than double the support, at 48%, of his closest rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (23%). The rest of the Republican candidates remain stuck in the low single digits.
But while nearly half (49%) of potential GOP primary voters continue to prefer Trump to an unnamed, hypothetical alternative — the same as last month — the share who select “someone else” has now jumped to 43%. That’s 4 points higher than it was in June, and the highest number so far this year.
Similarly, Trump’s current favorable rating among all Americans (38%) is the lowest measured so far by Yahoo News and YouGov.
Trump’s ongoing legal woes may be contributing to these shifts. The current survey was conducted before the former president announced Tuesday that he expects to be indicted by special counsel Jack Smith’s Jan. 6 grand jury, citing a “target letter” he received a few days earlier.
But the results show that a sizable — and growing — majority of Americans now see the kind of Jan. 6 charges that could be brought against Trump as “serious crimes”:
● 70% now consider “inciting or aiding an insurrection against the federal government” to be serious crime, up 6 points from 64% in late May.
● 70% now consider “conspiring to overturn the results of a presidential election” to be a serious crime, up 4 points from 66% in late May.
● 67% now consider “attempting to obstruct the certification of a presidential election” to be a serious crime, up 4 points from 63% in late May.
Similarly, just 24% of Americans now think Trump should be allowed to serve as president again in the future “if convicted of a serious crime in the coming months,” down from 28% in June (when a similar question specifically referred to a possible conviction in the classified documents case).
All told, 60% of Americans think Trump should drop out of the presidential race if convicted of a “serious crime”; only 27% say he should not drop out.
Biden edges out “someone else” for Democratic nomination
Biden, in contrast, has modestly improved his position among Democrats. Today, more than half (53%) of potential Democratic primary voters now prefer Biden to an unnamed alternative Democratic candidate, up from 48% in the June survey.
That’s the highest number Yahoo News and YouGov have tracked to date, as Biden’s support vs. “someone else” has grown from the mid-30s (during much of 2022) to the low-to-mid-40s (for the first half of 2023) to just over 50% in recent weeks.
It’s also 4 points higher than Trump’s comparable number among Republican primary voters.
The Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,638 U.S. adults interviewed online from July 13 to 17, 2023. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to March 15, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (32% Democratic, 27% Republican). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. adults. The margin of error is approximately 2.7%.