Three months into the 2024 White House race, former President Donald Trump remains the front-runner in the hunt for the GOP presidential nomination, according to an average of the latest public opinion surveys.
And as President Biden moves closer to the likely launch of a 2024 re-election campaign, his standing with Americans remains in negative territory after slipping underwater a year and a half ago, according to a key polling metric.
Biden stands at 44% approval and 52% disapproval according to an average of the latest national surveys that asked respondents about the job the president’s doing. The average, compiled by Real Clear Politics, includes both probability and non-probability based polls.
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Biden’s approval rating hovered in the low to mid 50s during his first six months in the White House. But the president’s numbers started sagging in August 2021 in the wake of his much criticized handling of the turbulent U.S. exit from Afghanistan and following a surge in COVID-19 cases that summer among mainly unvaccinated people.
The plunge in the president’s approval was also fueled by soaring inflation, which started spiking in the summer of 2021, and to a lesser degree the surge of migrants trying to cross into the U.S. along the southern border with Mexico. The president’s numbers slightly rebounded last summer and autumn, but remain well in the red.
Biden stands far below where his three most recent two-term predecessors — former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton – stood at this point in their presidencies, as they successfully ran for re-election.
The only recent president whose approval ratings were lower than Biden’s current numbers was Trump — his most recent predecessor. Then-President Trump stood at 44%-53% in mid-February 2019, according to the Real Clear Politics average. Trump was defeated by Biden in his bid for a second term in the White House.
Trump is running a third straight time for the White House. He announced in mid-November, just days after midterms, which traditionally mark the unofficial start of a presidential election cycle.
According to an average of the latest GOP nomination horse race polls, Trump remains the front-runner in a field of actual and potential rivals. The former president registers at 46% support, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at 30%.
“The early horse race comes down to just two names,” Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy highlighted as he pointed to Trump and DeSantis, who remains on the sidelines of the 2024 race as of now.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who’s likely to launch a White House campaign later this year, stood at 6% support in an average of the polls, a point ahead of former South Carolina governor and former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who last week joined Trump as the only major Republicans to date to have launched campaigns. Everyone else tested stood at 3% or less in the polling average.
In hypothetical 2024 general election matchups, the surveys suggest a margin of error race between Biden and Trump and the president and the Florida governor.
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But it’s early in the cycle. The start of the GOP primary and caucus calendar is still eleven and a half months away, and the 2024 general election is 21 months from now, and it’s advisable to take the readings of these surveys with plenty of skepticism.