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A major shift in American politics may be in the works according to some recent polling results about President Biden and Donald Trump. Specifically, they could mean that the American public has had it with both of them.
Let’s start with the President’s results…since he’s the President. Astonishingly, no fewer than three surveys during the last week show not only that his popularity and job approval are way down, but that huge and in one case slightly growing percentages of the public doubt his overall mental fitness to handle his job.
Two days ago, Politico and Morning Consult consult released survey findings reporting that only 22 percent of all registered voters “strongly agree” that Mr. Biden “is mentally fit,” 18 percent “somewhat agree,” 12 percent “somewhat disagree,” and 37 percent “strongly disagree.” So a plurality (49 percent) are in the “disagree” camp (versus 40 percent agreeing that the President is mentally fit), and the most popular answer, by 19 percentage points, was “strongly disagree.”
Of course there was a partisan split. But when it comes to political independents, those who overall disagreed that President Biden is mentally fit outnumbered those that agreed by 48 percent to 37 percent, with 33 percent choosing “strongly disagree.”
More worrisome for the President: Politico and Morning Consult asked the same question in November, and since then, those disagreeing that he’s mentally fit has inched up from 48 percent to 49 percent, and those agreeing that he’s mentally up to snuff has fallen from 46 percent to 40 percent. About the same deterioration appeared among independent voters.
Similarly, a poll this week from NBC News asked American adults (a group somewhat different than registered voters) how they would rate various Biden traits on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being “Very Poor” and 5 being “Very Good.” No party affiliation-based findings were provided. But on “Having the necessary mentally physical health to be president,” here are the Biden scores:
5: 18 percent
4: 15 percent
3: 16 percent
2: 9 percent
1: 41 percent
In other words, 4 and 5 (those believing Mr. Biden is mentally and physically healthy enough) add up to 33 percent. One and 2 (those who don’t) add up to 50 percent. And “Very Poor” leads the pack by a mile.
The Associated Press (AP) and National Opinion Research Center (NORC) reported better views of the President’s capacities – but not much. Here the question (again, for adults) was “How confident are you that Joe Biden has the mental capacity to serve effectively as president?” There was no political affiliation breakdown here, either, but here are the results:
“Extremely confident”: 11 percent
“Very confident”: 17 percent
“Somewhat confident”: 25 percent
“Not very confident”: 18 percent
“Not at all confident”: 29 percent
AP-NORC concluded that those lacking confidence in Mr. Biden’s mental fitness outnumbered those with confidence by 47 percent to 28 percent – figures not far off those published by NBC News. And once more, the biggest individual category contained those with the least confidence.
The news isn’t any better for the former President, though. Since early this year, I’ve been trying to keep track of whether Republican and Republican-leaning voters are more loyal to their party, or to Trump. And the new sounding from NBC News makes clear that Trump has been losing ground on this score.
As the survey reports, since January, 2019, although the results fluctuated some, the “supporter of Trump” position consistently registered a plurality and often a majority. (Those answering “both” never made it out of the single digits as percents of the whole sample.) Even last January (not a great month for Trump politically or in any sense), the “supporters of Donald Trump” and “supporters of the Republican Party” were tied at 46 percent.
But as of today? The percentage of “Republican supporters” topped that of “Trump supporters” by a whopping 56 percent to 36 percent. That’s the biggest such margin ever in this data series.
One other (non-poll) possible straw in the wind worth noting in this respect. In a magazine interview this month, Fox News talker Laura Ingraham said that “I’m not saying I’m there for him yet,” when asked if she would endorse a 2024 Trump presidential bid.
As is well known, Ingraham remains a fervent backer of Trump’s presidential record and policies, as well as an admirer of the former president personally. Less well known – Ingraham was dissenting in a Trump-ian/populist way from the old Republican Party orthodoxy for several years before Trump declared his first White House candidacy, especially on China-related issues. Given her wide following, that’s a clear signal that what’s been called Trump-ism without Trump is a distinct possibility for the Republican future.
But on the subject of the future, the worst news for both the President and his predecessor came from the AP-NORC survey. By a gaping 70 percent to 28 percent margin, respondents didn’t want Mr. Biden to seek reelection. That was almost identical to the 72 percent wanting Trump to stay on the sidelines and only 27 percent supporting a third White House bid.
We’re still very early in political cycle for this year’s Congressional elections, much less the 2024 presidential race. But so far, the polls are saying pretty clearly that Americans want new faces to choose from when they next choose a Chief Executive – and pretty ardently.