AP-NORC poll: Trump evokes more anger and fear among Democrats than Biden among Republicans

(Uncredited / Associated Press)

AP-NORC poll: Trump evokes more anger and fear among Democrats than Biden among Republicans

Election 2024


March 26, 2024

Many Americans are not enthusiastic about a rematch of the 2020 presidential election in November. But presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump appears to be arousing more anger and fear among Americans in his counterpart than President Biden is in his.

A new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows Democrats are more likely to be fearful or angry about the prospects of another Trump term than Republicans are about the idea of ​​Biden staying in the White House.

The emotional response Trump provokes could also work in his favor, although the poll also found that Republicans are more excited about the prospect of a Trump victory than Democrats are about a Biden victory.

Seven in 10 Democrats say the words angry or anxious would describe their emotions about the prospect of a Trump victory extremely well or very well. A smaller majority of Republicans (56%) say the same about a Biden re-election. About six in ten Democrats cite both emotions when considering a Trump victory. Again, that surpasses the roughly four in 10 Republicans who said they would feel both angry and scared if Biden were to prevail.

The findings are notable in an unusual campaign pitting a sitting president against his predecessor, with both men facing doubters within their own parties and among independents. Consolidating the support of Republicans who backed Nikki Haley in the Republican primaries could be a challenge for Trump. Biden faces disenchanted progressives on his left and worries about whether his age, 81, is a liability in office.

Excitement about the two candidates will be a major factor in a race where turnout from both sides will be crucial. But disgust can motivate voters just as much as enthusiasm.

If there was a third-party candidate who had a chance, I would vote for them, said Austin Healey, a 26-year-old Democrat. Healey, who describes himself as very liberal, said his mixed reviews of Biden taking a back seat to his concerns that Trump’s comeback bid appears to be a clear ploy to abolish democracy.

While he’s not excited about it, Healey said, that means a vote for Biden.

Derrick Johnson, a Michigan voter who identifies as a liberal independent, also voiced strong criticism of Biden. But the 46-year-old caregiver and food service worker made his conclusion clear: Donald Trump is a lunatic. I’m afraid we’re going to end up in World War III. My message is for everyone but Trump.

Democrats’ intense feelings about Trump explain the general differences in how Americans view the two rivals. Overall, about four in 10 American adults say anxiety would describe their emotions extremely or very well if Trump is re-elected, while about three in 10 would fear a second Biden term. About four-in-ten American adults said they would be excited if Trump won in November, while 28% said the same about Biden.

The polling findings on negative emotions could be especially important for Biden given his other weaknesses, including the fact that Republicans remain more enthusiastic about Trump’s re-election than Democrats about Biden’s re-election. Just over half of Republicans, 54%, excitedly say they describe their feelings about another Trump term extremely well or very well. For Biden, that number among Democrats was 4 in 10.

We know what’s going on with Trump, said Republican John Novak, a 54-year-old maintenance worker who lives in the swing state of Wisconsin and counts himself among Republican loyalists who would be excited by a new Trump term.

“I knew who he was when he came down the escalator in 2015, and we were never given Boy Scout gear,” Novak said. But he put conservatives on the Supreme Court, he was tough on immigration… and he’s a conservative who manages the economy.

The latest AP-NORC poll showed Biden with an overall approval rating of 38%. American adults also expressed dissatisfaction with his handling of the economy and immigration, and not all of this disapproval is motivated by partisan loyalty. About four-in-ten American adults approve of Biden’s stewardship of the economy, which is about equal to his overall job approval rating.

On specific issues, about three-in-ten Democrats disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy; about 4 in 10 people disapprove of his approach to immigration or border security.

The situation at the border really bothers me, said Johnson, the Michigan liberal. The border crossings are simply getting out of hand.

The president and his campaign advisers are touting the Biden administration’s legislative record, especially on infrastructure, an improving economy and new spending aimed at combating climate change. But the president and his allies have also been tireless in castigating Trump for being interested only in revenge and retaliation for his 2020 defeat and his anger over the impending criminal charges and other legal troubles that followed.

They have echoed Trump’s praise of authoritarians like Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Hungary’s Victor Orbán and recirculated the former president’s statement that he would be willing to act as a dictator for a day to close the border and stop drilling to fossil fuels.

Trump has responded with sharp attacks on Biden’s mental acuity and physical suitability for the presidency and has even mocked Biden’s stutter. But the latest polls suggest that Trump has not yet maximized the potential benefits of those attacks, or that they may simply yield lower returns for him.

Biden sometimes turns his version of the argument into a humorous quip he used often in 2020 as he tried to dethrone Trump: Don’t compare me to the Almighty; compare me to the alternative.

Indeed, that is what resonates with reluctant Democrats and some independents.

I voted for Trump [in 2016] because I wanted someone to shake up Washington, said Neil Murray, a 67-year-old retiree in Jonesboro, Ark., who identifies as an independent. He certainly did, but he couldn’t do anything productive with it.

Frustrated by Trump’s negative qualities that he overlooked in 2016, Murray voted for Biden in 2020, but not enthusiastically. He called Biden disingenuous on some issues and too close to the left flank of the Democratic Party on economic policy.

But in November, Murray said, he will have no reservations about casting a second vote for the Democrat because Donald Trump is a shouting lunatic.

The survey of 1,282 adults was conducted March 21-25, 2024, using a sample from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points for all respondents.

Barrow and Sanders write for the Associated Press. Barrow reported from Atlanta and Sanders from Washington.


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