By Lee Cleveland – May 11, 2023
In the highly anticipated 2024 presidential election, the political landscape is poised for a potential rematch between the incumbent, Joe Biden, and the former president, Donald Trump. As the nation awaits this pivotal contest, it becomes crucial to delve into the intricate dynamics and factors that could determine the outcome.
Assessing Joe Biden’s Prospects
Joe Biden’s approval ratings have stagnated in the low 40s, typically considered unfavorable for an incumbent seeking reelection. Historical precedent indicates that past first-term incumbents with such low approval ratings, including Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, and Donald Trump, were unsuccessful in securing a second term.
However, despite these challenges, Biden remains a formidable contender because Trump is such a weak candidate. Recent national polls indicate that he is in a dead heat with Donald Trump, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination. Moreover, Biden maintains narrow leads in several critical swing states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Georgia.
The Intriguing “Someone Else” Voters
One of the most captivating aspects of the voter preferences revealed by the November 2022 ANES Pilot Study via YouGov is the significant proportion of registered voters, comprising 18%, who expressed a preference for “someone else” despite no alternative options being provided.
Intriguingly, these “someone else” voters exhibited an unfavorable view of both candidates but rated Biden with an average of 32.8 degrees on the feeling thermometer scale while Trump only received an average rating of 26.8. Hence, when faced with a binary choice between the two candidates, these disgruntled voters leaned slightly towards Biden, with 49% rating him more favorably compared to 44% for Trump.
And that’s not all… A plurality of “someone else” voters identifies as conservative and aligns with or leans toward the Republican Party. Surprisingly, only 29% of them identify as Democrats, and a mere 18% consider themselves liberal.
Given the partisan and ideological leanings of these voters, one might expect them to view Donald Trump more positively than Joe Biden.
Not the case.
However, their overwhelmingly negative ratings of the former president can be attributed to their perceptions of the events that unfolded on January 6, 2021, and Trump’s role in inciting the U.S. Capitol insurrection.
In stark contrast to Trump supporters, the “someone else” voters overwhelmingly perceive the events as a “criminal attack” rather than a “justified protest.” Moreover, a significant majority of these voters, 66%, hold Trump at least partially responsible for the assault on the Capitol, a sentiment shared by 96% of Biden supporters but only 16% of Trump supporters.
What Does This Mean?
As we shared in a previous article, Biden’s low approval ratings versus incumbent presidents in recent memory are misleading because he’ll be running against a far more unpopular candidate should Trump win the Republican nomination.
There’s a fairly decent portion of voters who are saying, “I don’t like Biden but would favor him all day against Trump.”