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Joe Biden, Donald Trump level despite debate, more people call for Biden to withdraw from presidential race: POLLS

Joe Biden, Donald Trump level despite debate, more people call for Biden to withdraw from presidential race: POLLS

Two-thirds of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post/Ipsos poll — including a majority of Joe Biden’s own supporters — say he should step aside as their party’s presumptive presidential nominee, given his debate performance two weeks ago. That’s even as Biden remains tied with Donald Trump, with no meaningful post-debate shift in voting preferences.

Americans are split 46-47% between Biden and Trump if the election were held today, nearly identical to a 44-46% ABC/Ipsos poll result in April. Among registered voters (though there is still time to register), it is a dead-end tie, 46-46%.

If Vice President Kamala Harris were to replace Biden as the Democratic nominee, the vote choice would be 49-46%, Harris-Trump, among all adults (and 49-47% among registered voters). Harris’ 49% is slightly better than Biden’s 46%, though she is not statistically significantly ahead of Trump.

Two-thirds of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post/Ipsos poll say Biden should step aside as their party’s presumptive presidential nominee

That’s not to say Biden wasn’t damaged by the debate. Sixty-seven percent of respondents say he should drop out of the race. More than 85% now say he’s too old for a second term, a new record, up from an already wide 81% in April and 68% just over a year ago.

See PDF for full results.

Too old for a second term?

Further, the poll, conducted for ABC by Langer Research Associates with field work by Ipsos, finds Trump ahead of Biden by 30 percentage points, 44%-14%, in having the mental acuity needed to serve effectively as president. Trump’s edge is about equal in having the physical health to serve, and his advantages on both have widened since April.

As the horse race shows, those opinions may not be decisive. Biden’s approval rating is steady, if at a weak 36%. While neither is broadly popular, Biden continues to have a better personal approval rating than Trump. And Biden leads Trump by 17 points, 39%-22%, in being seen as more honest and trustworthy, essentially unchanged from the spring.

Christiane Cordero tells the story.

Both candidates face high levels of disdain. About 4 in 10 Americans say neither has the mental acuity or physical health to serve effectively, and many say neither is honest or trustworthy. Sixty percent say Trump is too old for a second term, also a new record, up from 44% in the spring of 2023. And in a sign of the country’s political polarization, 50% say Trump should step aside in favor of another nominee given his debate performance — though, unlike Biden, few of Trump’s own supporters say that.

It’s clear that Biden suffered the most reputational damage from the debate. Half of Americans say they have a less favorable opinion of him because of it, compared to 22% who say the same about Trump’s performance. Twenty-seven percent view Trump more favorably because of the debate, compared to just 7% for Biden on this measure.

Even among those who say they’ll vote for Biden in November, 81% say he’s too old for another term and just 44% say he should continue in the race; 54% say he should step aside. Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, more — 62% — say he should go. (By comparison, just 16% of Republicans and GOP leaners say Trump should withdraw.)

If Biden were to withdraw — and he claims he won’t — only 44% of Americans say they are satisfied with Harris as the Democratic nominee, while 53% are dissatisfied. Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, by contrast, satisfaction with Harris reaches 70%, and among current Biden supporters, it’s 76%.

Put another way, an open-ended question asked Democrats and Democratic supporters who they would like to see replace Biden if he were to withdraw. Twenty-nine percent named Harris, easily the leading choice in this group, with everyone else in the single digits. Still, there were more than 30 potential candidates named, showing fragmentation.

The debate

The debate outcome is mixed: Two-thirds of Americans say Trump won, and that’s 74% of viewers. (That includes those who initially said it was a tie but later voted for one or the other.)

Among Biden supporters, 59% say he won, demonstrating a significant level of loyalty in this group. By contrast, among those backing Trump or another candidate, a near-unanimous 94% say Trump won the debate.

ALSO SEE: Biden dismisses concerns about mental fitness, says he would drop out if the ‘Lord Almighty’ told him to

Another result could raise the stakes for Biden’s future appearances, including his planned press conference later Thursday: Among viewers, 61% say their opinion of Biden has worsened as a result of the debate. Among those who didn’t watch, a much smaller share say so — 34%.

To stay or to go

Majorities in most groups say Biden should step aside, though to varying degrees. It’s lowest, 49%, among Black people, including 32% among Black people 50 and older, a particularly strong group for Biden.

Fifty-six percent of Democrats say Biden should withdraw, rising to 72% of independents and a nearly identical share of Republicans, at 73%. Six in 10 liberals say that, as do about 7 in 10 moderates and conservatives. It’s also about 7 in 10 among both white and Hispanic people. Even among people who personally have a favorable opinion of Biden, 55% say he should step aside, as do 77% of those who view him unfavorably.

Vote choice

Like the Biden-Trump horse race overall, the preferences among groups are very similar to what they were in April. It’s 39-53%, Biden-Trump, among white people, for example, 49-42% among Hispanics and 77-17% among black people.

Despite his performance in the debates, Democrats continue to trail Biden (91-5%), Republicans trail Trump (94-4%), and independents, who are often swing voters in national elections, have a 40-44% difference (Biden-Trump), which is not a significant difference.

There are some differences in Harris’ support against Trump compared to Biden’s, but not enough to make that race anything more than a dead heat. Harris is doing better against Trump with women, 52-44%, compared to 47-46% for Biden-Trump among women.

ALSO SEE: Pelosi says ‘time is running out’ for Biden to decide whether to stay in race

Further, Harris holds a significant lead over Trump among Hispanics, 56-40%, while Biden does not. And Harris outperforms Biden by 8 points among urban women, 61% versus 53%. Harris’ 82% support among black people, and 86% among black women, are not significantly different from Biden’s results in those groups.

Another test, which included Biden, Trump and independent candidates, again found no meaningful change from April: 41% for Biden, 42% for Trump, 10% for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and 2% each for Cornel West and Jill Stein.

Attributes

As noted, Biden has a comparative advantage even after the debate on a key measure of goodwill. He is 8 points underwater on personal preference, viewed positively by 42% of the public, viewed negatively by 50%. Trump, by contrast, is 25 points underwater on this measure, 34%-59%.

These popularity ratings have remained largely unchanged since April, with no sign of any impact from the debate. That’s even though, among those who view Biden positively overall, nearly 4 in 10 (37%) also say they view him less favorably than before because of the debate.

One question before us is which candidate traits matter most to the public. That includes, for example, how much juice Biden gets from his clear edge on honesty and trustworthiness, or his smaller, single-digit edge as the candidate who “represents your personal values” and “will protect American democracy.” He and Trump are essentially tied on another, historically important trait, understanding “the problems of people like you.”

ALSO SEE: Biden denies declining poll numbers, low approval ratings after debate

That said, the hit Biden has taken to his perceived mental acuity and physical health is real. In April, he trailed Trump by 19 points on mental acuity; today, as noted, it’s 30 points. And Biden’s 22-point deficit on physical health in the spring is now 31 points.

Personal attributes

Trump also outperforms Biden on job approval. At 36% approval versus 57% disapproval, Biden is 21 points underwater on this issue. Looking back at Trump’s presidency, 43% approve of his job performance, 52% disapprove, a narrower gap of 9 points. Biden’s job rating has been essentially flat for over a year and negative for three years.

Plan B

As for potential successors, 67% of Black people — an overwhelmingly Democratic group — would be satisfied with Harris, the first Black person and first woman to serve as vice president, taking over for Biden. Fewer Hispanics (51%) or whites (38%) would be satisfied, reflecting at least in part their differing partisan preferences.

Satisfaction with a Harris nomination is about the same among black women (70%) and black men (64%; the 6-point difference is not significant given the sample sizes). Likewise, there is no overall difference between men and women in their opinions of Harris as a nominee.

In the open-ended question among Democrats and Democratic leaners, Harris leads all groups in preference to replace Biden, with 27% citing this preference compared to 34% of men, women, blacks, Latinos and whites.

Just as many skipped or declined the question as Harris. Behind her, 7% named California Gov. Gavin Newsom as their favorite stand-in; 4% former first lady Michelle Obama; 3% each, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; 2%, independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.; and 1%, eight other political figures from Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky to Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Less than half a percent of the others showed up.

Methodology

This ABC News/Washington Post/Ipsos poll was conducted online via the probability-based Ipsos KnowledgePanel July 5-9, 2024, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 2,431 adults. Partisan split is 32%-29%-27%, Democrats-Republicans-Independents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 2 percentage points, including the design effect, for the full sample. Sampling error is not the only source of variation in polls.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, with sampling and data collection by Ipsos. See details of ABC News survey methodology here.

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