Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.
Former President Donald Trump ended his presidency more unpopular than any of the last 12 presidents at the end of their first terms and he is still unpopular post-presidency according to FiveThirtyEight’s new average of Trump’s favorability numbers. Currently, 41.4 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the former president, while 53 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him.
Overall, Trump’s unfavorability — now that he’s out of office we’re tracking his favorability numbers rather than his approval rating, both of which capture popularity — has remained steady just as his low approval numbers mostly did during his presidency. His popularity took a dip following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which meant that his overall favorability was quite low when we began tracking those numbers in February. But as you can see in the chart above, Trump’s favorability numbers have more or less returned to where his approval rating was before the insurrection.
To be sure, Trump is still more unpopular than popular with the American public as a whole. Yet, despite Trump’s overall unfavorability, as my colleague Nathaniel Rakich wrote about last week, the majority of Republicans want Trump to run for president again, with polls suggesting that Republicans overall thought Trump had a positive impact on politics.
We’ve never tracked former presidents’ favorability before, but Trump’s continued influence on the Republican Party is unusual. As such, we’ll be monitoring his popularity in the lead-up to the 2022 midterms and beyond. If he remains a key player in the party and Republican voters remain enthusiastic about his candidacy, that all could prove beneficial to a potential 2024 presidential bid.
On that note, we’re also launching a new average of Vice President Kamala Harris’s job approval numbers. That’s because Joe Biden, America’s oldest sitting president, isn’t necessarily going to run for reelection in 2024. He even called himself a “transition candidate” on the 2020 campaign trail, which is why it’s important we track what Americans think of his No. 2, as it’s possible Harris runs for president in 2024. Harris’s approval rating currently sits at 42.7 percent while her disapproval rating is at 52.5 percent.
Notably, though, Harris’s standing is not as good as Biden’s. Both her approval and disapproval ratings are worse than his. The president’s approval rating currently sits at 43.7 percent and his disapproval rating at 51 percent.
To be sure, Harris’s numbers aren’t all that different from Biden’s — her overall job approval seems to be largely tied at this point to his — but the Los Angeles Times’s Harris favorability tracker has found that the VP’s net favorability (favorable rating minus unfavorable rating) is lower than former Vice Presidents Mike Pence, Biden, Dick Cheney and Al Gore. They also note in their analysis that Harris’s favorability began to decline in June after she was tasked with tackling immigration, a thorny issue for Democrats.
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It’s also possible, as Peter Nicholas wrote in The Atlantic in August, that racism and sexism could be to blame for Harris’s low numbers. At FiveThirtyEight, we’ve written how women politicians, and especially women of color like Harris, are often held to a different standard than men. And as Nicholas noted in his article, Harris has a high unfavorability margin among men (now 17 percentage points according to the Los Angeles Times).
Ultimately, though, it’s still very early at this point, and a lot will likely change between now and the 2024 presidential election. But in the meantime, we’ll be tracking Trump’s favorability numbers and Harris’s approval ratings to get a better sense of how Americans think of them — especially if either, or both, are on the ballot in 2024.
Other polling bites
- Election Day is next Tuesday and one of the closest races to watch is the Virginia governor’s race between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin. While McAuliffe has remained consistently in the lead, the race is now narrowing. A recent Emerson College/Nexstar Media poll shows a tied race with 49 percent of likely voters supporting McAuliffe and 49 percent of likely voters supporting Youngkin. FiveThirtyEight’s polling average of the Virginia race now has McAuliffe at 47.6 percent and Youngkin at 46.1 percent.
- New Jersey will also host a gubernatorial race on Tuesday. There, New Jerseyans will decide on whether to keep Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy in office or replace him with Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli. Some recent polls have suggested a close race, but a Monmouth University poll released on Wednesday found Murphy with an 11-point lead over Ciattarelli, 50 percent to 39 percent among registered voters. This marks a double-digit lead for Murphy, but his lead is down 2 points since Monmouth last asked voters in September.
- More Americans now say they want an increase in police spending, per a recent Pew Research Center poll. The poll found that 21 percent of Americans want to see police spending “increased a lot,” which is up 10 points from 2020. Even the share who want to see spending “increased a little” has risen 6 points from last year to 26 percent. To be sure, a plurality of Americans, 37 percent, want police spending to stay the same, but this has decreased 5 points since 2020.
- A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel has approved Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, making it likely that kids could receive the shot as soon as November. Yet among Americans, support for vaccinating children against COVID-19 is split along familiar party lines. A majority of Democrats, 81 percent, support COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11, while 54 percent of Republicans oppose it, according to a recent Data for Progress poll.
- Some parents are also concerned about the potential side effects of the vaccine, according to a recent Ipsos/Marketing for Change poll. The poll found that 48 percent of parents with kids in the 5 to 11 age range were weighing vaccine side effects while 40 percent said protecting their child from getting sick with COVID-19 was a factor. Another 36 percent said their children’s ability to participate in school activities that require vaccination is a factor when weighing the decision to vaccinate their children.
According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker1, 43.7 percent of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president, while 51 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -7.3 points). At this time last week, 43.7 percent approved and 50.0 percent disapproved (a net approval rating of -6.4 points). One month ago, Biden had an approval rating of 45.3 percent and a disapproval rating of 48.9 percent, for a net approval rating of -3.6 points.
In our average of polls of the generic congressional ballot2, Democrats currently lead by 2.5 percentage points (43.9 percent to 41.4 percent). A week ago, Democrats led Republicans by 2.6 points (44.1 percent to 41.6 percent). At this time last month, voters preferred Democrats by 3 points (44.7 percent to 41.7 percent).
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