In most national elections, especially important ones like presidential elections, most likely voters have a decided opinion on which candidate they support and which one they oppose – and they vote accordingly. This is what elections are all about.
Americans Don’t Want Biden or Trump in 2024 Election
However, the latest polls from CNN and others show that more Americans than ever don’t want President Joe Biden OR former president Donald Trump to be our next president.
Usually, most Americans like one of the candidates running for president and oppose the other. That has been the norm for most of polling history. But not this time, apparently.
It’s worth noting, of course, that we’re still well more than a year out from the 2024 election and things can change. But as of now, neither Trump nor Biden are anywhere near positive territory this cycle, and we’re not talking about one outlier poll.
The average of all polling so far indicates that both men have favorable ratings below 40% with unfavorable ratings into the mid-50s. Meaning that most Americans don’t want either one of them to be our next president.
For the record, I am also in this camp. While I will end-up voting for one of them – if these two are the nominees – I also am not happy with our choices. But at this point, it is looking like we’ll have to pick between Biden and Trump.
As you know, the 2024 presidential primaries are in full swing. President Joe Biden is the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination. Former President Donald Trump remains the clear front-runner for the Republican nod.
This puts a lot of Americans in a position they don’t want to be in: A historically large share of them do not like either man at this point.
A CNN/SSRS poll from earlier this month found that more Americans viewed neither Biden nor Trump favorably than those who held favorable views of either man. A plurality (36%) viewed neither candidate favorably, while 33% had a favorable view of Trump and 32% for Biden. Limiting ourselves to registered voters only, 31% viewed neither Biden nor Trump favorably.
When you zoom in on those who were unfavorably inclined toward Biden and Trump (i.e., putting aside those who were unsure or were neutral), 22% of adults and 21% of registered voters had an unfavorable view of both men.
To put that in perspective, consider the end of the 2016 presidential election. That race (between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton) is the benchmark election for candidate unlikability. It is the only one on record in which both candidates were disliked by more Americans than liked on Election Day.
If the numbers we’re seeing now in CNN polling continue through the election, more Americans will dislike both major party nominees for president than ever before.
Are you surprised? I didn’t think so. Neither am I.
Does This Mean DeSantis & Kennedy Have a Chance?
With growing numbers of Americans not wanting to vote for either Biden or Trump in the 2024 election, does this suggest that challengers Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Robert Kennedy, Jr. have a shot at winning the election next year?
Normally, I would say NO. But the 2024 presidential looks to be anything but normal. Not normal because: 1) More Americans dislike both major party nominees for president than ever before; and 2) More Americans seem to be politically engaged than ever before.
So, it remains to be seen if voters will reject frontrunners Biden and Trump and opt instead for one of the challengers.
It is interesting to note that in this case, neither DeSantis or Kennedy are your “run-of-the-mill” candidates. DeSantis claims he is a staunch conservative and has some potentially very polarizing views on policy, which I will discuss below.
Robert Kennedy, Jr.
Robert Kennedy, Jr., while a Democrat, is not considered a far left liberal and is gaining a surprising amount of traction for someone who the national party views as a fringe candidate.
His campaign is predicated on ending what he says is the “corrupt merger of state and corporate power that is threatening now to impose a new kind of corporate feudalism in our country,” he said in his announcement speech recently.
In some ways, he sounds more like a MAGA Republican than a Democrat. And Kennedy himself has acknowledged that he holds controversial views. In April, he said: “I am not an ideal presidential candidate. I’m not one of these people who said I have to be careful because one day I’m going to be in the White House.”
Despite all of that, Kennedy seems to have struck a chord with voters. A June poll by The Economist and YouGov found that he had a net favorability rating of 19 percentage points, compared to Biden’s minus-9 and former President Donald Trump’s minus-10 net ratings.
Kennedy has almost 16% support among likely Democratic primary voters on average as of late June and as much as 20% support in one poll, but is still well behind Biden.
His support might be a reflection of the fact that Americans still revere the Kennedy name and are willing to give him a chance because of his place in a storied political dynasty, even if they may not know much about his platform.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis also has an unusual story. He ran for Congress in 2012, won his Orlando-area district and became a founding member of the far-right Freedom Caucus on Capitol Hill. Like many conservatives in Congress at that time, he pushed for changes to Medicare and Social Security, including one measure that would have raised the retirement age to 70.
He served in Congress for three terms before launching what was considered a long-shot bid for governor in 2018. He won that race by less than 1 percentage point before securing a dominant reelection last fall.
DeSantis just concluded a legislative session that establishes him as perhaps the most aggressive and accomplished conservative governor in the country’s bitter culture wars.
He signed and then expanded the Parental Rights in Education bill – known by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bans instruction or classroom discussion of LGBTQ issues in Florida public schools for all grades. He also signed a law that bans state and federal funding for diversity, equity and inclusion programs at state colleges and universities.
This spring, he signed a controversial law banning abortions at six weeks. He single-handedly removed an elected prosecutor who pledged not to charge people under Florida’s new abortion restrictions or doctors who provide gender-affirming care.
DeSantis also enacted a law this spring allowing Florida residents to carry a concealed firearm without a permit. He also took control of a liberal arts college that he believed was indoctrinating students with leftist ideology. DeSantis is also a big supporter of building a wall along our southern border and promises to get it done, whereas Trump couldn’t.
DeSantis has also made a name for himself as a tough-on-migrants politician. From flying asylum seekers to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts last year, to supporting an E-Verify mandate that threatens to force undocumented workers out of Florida, DeSantis has been busy proving his hardliner bona fides.
A Very Interesting Presidential Race Shaping up for 2024
As I said earlier, neither DeSantis or Kennedy are your “run-of-the-mill” candidates. It remains to be seen whether either one of them can upset front-runners President Biden or Donald Trump.
Normally, I would say NO, but next year’s election is becoming increasingly unpredictable.
DeSantis’ allies claim that he is more electable than Trump in a general election. That remains to be seen, of course. He first has to win the GOP nomination, which looks like a tall order. Much the same is true for Kennedy who is not popular among many mainstream Democrats.
But as discussed above, with more Americans than ever not wanting to vote for Biden or Trump, anything is possible next year. It promises to be one of the most interesting presidential elections in recent memory.
As always, I’ll be covering it from time to time and giving you my observations and opinions as we move forward. It should be fun!
Gary D. Halbert is the president and chairman of Halbert Wealth Management, Inc. His Forecasts & Trends Weekly E-Letter may be obtained free of charge by subscribing at www.halbertwealth.com.