Many say Biden and Trump have done more harm than good, but polls show for different reasons

(Uncredited / Associated Press)

Many say Biden and Trump have done more harm than good, but polls show for different reasons

Election 2024

Seung Min Kim and Amelia Thomson-Deveaux

April 14, 2024

There’s a reason why President Biden and former President


Trump spends so much time attacking each other that people think neither man has much to brag about when it comes to his own record. That’s what Americans usually think

in their time while they were there

in the White House, both have done more harm than good on important issues.

But the two candidates have different weaknesses. For Biden, there is widespread discontent over two issues: the economy and immigration. Trump, meanwhile, faces an electorate where substantial shares believe he has damaged the country on a number of issues.

A new poll from the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that more than half of American adults think Biden’s presidency has hurt the country on the cost of living and immigration, while nearly half thinks Trump’s presidency has hurt the country in terms of voting rights and election security. , relations with foreign countries, abortion laws and climate change.

Considering the price of gas, the price of groceries and the economy, I did very well during those four years, Christina Elliott, 60, a Republican from Texas, said of Trump’s presidency. I didn’t have to worry about filling up my tank or losing half my paycheck to the grocery store.

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

Elliott wasn’t thrilled with Trump’s handling of abortion, saying that when it comes to the former president’s rhetoric, he just needs to learn to be tactful and keep his mouth shut.

But otherwise, as I said, I did very well during the Trump years, she added.

The poll underscores why certain issues, such as abortion for Biden and immigration for Trump, have been persistent focuses for each of the campaigns. The former president regularly denounces the number of asylum seekers who have arrived in the US under Biden and describes the situation in apocalyptic and dark terms. And Biden has gone on the offensive against Trump on abortion, especially after the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling this week that essentially criminalized the procedure in the state.

When asked which president has done more to help people like them, about a third say Donald Trump and about a quarter say Joe Biden. Still, 30% of adults said neither Biden nor Trump benefited them. It’s another data point that reflects an electorate largely disappointed with this year’s general election, generating little enthusiasm among key parts of Biden and Trump’s political coalitions.

This number explains why the rematch between Biden and Trump is so exciting

Americans view Biden particularly negatively on a few specific issues. Only about two-in-ten Americans think Biden’s presidency has contributed much or little to the cost of living, with 16% saying so about immigration and border security. Nearly six in ten say his presidency has hurt a lot or a little on this front. In contrast, nearly half, 46%, of Americans say Trump’s presidency has helped a lot or a little on immigration or border security. Four in ten say it has affected the cost of living.

Trelicia Mornes, 36, a Texas resident, said she thinks Biden’s presidency has hurt a lot when it comes to day-to-day spending.

Now that he’s in office, the cost of living has spiraled out of control, and nothing is being done about it, said Mornes, a Democrat, pointing to the rising costs of rent and food. She said she believes Biden can do more. He just chose to do other things.

The pandemic hurt Trump in terms of employment, as the economy lost 2.7 million jobs under his watch. But the pandemic lockdowns have also dramatically slowed inflation, as the consumer price index fell from an annual rate of 2.3% to just 0.1%. At the same time, low interest rates and historic levels of deficit-financed stimulus made many households feel better off under Trump.

Why Biden gets little credit for the economy, especially in California

Coming out of the pandemic, Biden boosted the economy with additional aid, spurring 15.2 million job gains under his watch. But supply chain problems, Russia’s war in Ukraine and Biden’s aid package are believed by many economists to have contributed to rising inflation, which has hurt Democrats’ approval ratings.

Trump’s advantage on cost of living and immigration is driven in part by Democrats’ lack of enthusiasm about Biden’s performance. For example, about a third of Democrats think Biden’s presidency has hurt the cost of living, and another third think Biden has neither helped nor hurt. Only a third of Democrats think Biden’s presidency has contributed to the cost of living. About three-in-ten Democrats think Biden’s presidency has helped on immigration and border security, a similar share think his presidency has hurt, and about four-in-ten think it made no difference.

Nadia Stepicheva, 38, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, is unhappy with Biden’s handling of immigration.

The problem is that I really don’t like illegal immigration, Stepicheva said. She believes people who enter the U.S., even if they enter illegally, should be given the opportunity to work so that taxpayer money isn’t used to care for and house them.

Opinion: Is Biden about to close the border in the name of election year politics?

Stepicheva said she has always supported the policies of the Democrats and the parties. But for the last four years, I feel like it’s been too much money being spent on immigration, with all these student loans being forgiven. She said she is unsure about who she will vote for in November.

But independents also rate Biden low on these issues, with nearly six in 10 independents saying Biden’s presidency has hurt the country at the expense of livelihoods. About four-in-ten independents say Biden’s presidency has hurt the country when it comes to health care costs and relations with other countries.

Trump has a different problem.

The former president is unquestioned on issues where more than half of Americans think he has done more to hurt than to help, but the general sense of harm is a little broader. Nearly half of Americans think his presidency hurt more than helped on issues such as climate change, voting rights and election security, abortion laws and foreign relations.

Trump as a candidate for stability? That’s how many voters see it now

Catherine Scott, a Republican who recently moved to New York from Florida, said she found Trump’s approach to foreign policy particularly troubling.

“I understand that some people really admire Trump’s ability to be a hothead and just say what’s on his mind,” Scott, 30, said. But pointing to Trump’s complimentary comments toward autocrats like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Scott said: I don’t think he has the foresight to understand that this may not always be the right thing to do.

The top issue for both Biden and Trump overall is job creation. Trump has a slight lead here: Nearly half say his presidency has helped, while 36% say Biden’s presidency has helped. About half of Americans also think Trump’s presidency has contributed to immigration, and four in 10 think his presidency has contributed to the cost of living.

On all other issues, the share of Americans who say Biden or Trump helped the country a lot or a little is about 3 in 10 or less. But Republicans generally tend to see more benefit from Trump’s presidency than Democrats do from Biden’s, even on issues where Biden has worked to highlight his victories.

Column: Biden’s memory is failing. That’s Trump. The question is whose mistakes are more dangerous

For example, only about half of Democrats say Biden’s presidency has contributed to climate change or health care costs. On abortion laws, 77% of Democrats think Trump’s presidency has been at least somewhat harmful, but only about four-in-ten say Biden’s presidency has helped a lot or a little, and a similar share think it has Biden’s presidency has made no difference.

Meanwhile, about 8 in 10 Republicans say Trump’s presidency has helped on immigration and border security, creating jobs and raising the cost of living.

The survey of 1,204 adults was conducted from April 4 to 8.


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 3.9 percentage points for all respondents.

Kim and Thomson-Deveaux write for the Associated Press. AP writer Josh Book contributed to this report.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Hot Topics

Related Articles