As the new year unfolds, President Biden confronts a daunting challenge.
Recent NBC News polling data reveals President Biden's approval rating plummeting to a historic low of 40%, a troubling sign as he approaches a potential reelection bid against Donald Trump.
According to the final NBC poll of 2023, President Biden's approval rating stood at a mere 40%, with a disapproval rating of 57%. This is the lowest approval rating for an incumbent president facing reelection in the history of NBC polling.
In contrast, former President Donald Trump had a 44% approval rating as he headed into his 2020 reelection bid. Similarly, George H.W. Bush, before his 1992 election loss, had secured a 52% approval rating. The stark difference in these figures underscores the unique challenges facing Biden.
At the beginning of 2023, Biden enjoyed a 46% approval rating, buoyed by the Democrats' strong performance in the 2022 midterm elections. However, over the course of the year, his approval rating steadily declined.
Voters have expressed significant concerns over President Biden's age and physical fitness. At 81, Biden is the oldest sitting president in U.S. history, and these factors have become a focal point of voter apprehension.
Political analyst Steve Kornacki of NBC News highlighted these concerns: "His physical fit, his fitness his age. But three in four voters in our poll say it’s a major or moderate concern."
Another critical factor influencing public opinion is the legal turmoil surrounding former President Trump. Despite leading the polls against Biden, 62% of respondents in the NBC poll view Trump's legal issues and potential convictions as a major or moderate concern.
Interestingly, the NBC poll indicates that both Biden and Trump would lose against a generic opponent from the opposing party. Biden would notably lose by double digits against a generic Republican, while Trump would suffer a significant loss against a generic Democrat.
These findings suggest a broad lack of enthusiasm for a rematch between Trump and Biden, even though both parties seem inclined toward this direction as 2024 approaches.
Kornacki elaborated on this situation, noting the peculiar dynamics at play. He said:
And this is interesting to just there is clearly with this ballot question is showing it here is matching Trump against just a generic Democrat. Trump loses sizable matching Biden against a generic Republican. Biden's loss by double digits is just showing you broadly there’s not a big appetite for Trump versus Biden, even though it seems that each party, at least as we enter 2024, is poised to go in that direction.
At the beginning of 2023, Biden had a slight edge over Trump, leading by 2 points in a hypothetical 2024 matchup. However, by the end of the year, this dynamic had shifted, with Trump now leading Biden by 2 points.
The fluctuating poll numbers over the year reflect the rapidly changing political landscape and the volatility of public opinion in the lead-up to the 2024 presidential election.
A Wall Street Journal poll also indicates a rising interest in third-party candidates, with a combined 17% support for hypothetical third-party contenders. This development could introduce an unpredictable variable in the 2024 race.