Economy

Fox News Poll: Who is leading the presidential race and other frequently asked questions about 2024

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

The latest Fox News survey shows former President Trump narrowly ahead of President Biden in the race for the White House. But the contest has tightened as an uptick in economic optimism pushes approval of Biden up.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the 2024 election.

Who is leading the presidential race?

We reserve the word ‘lead’ for when a candidate’s edge is outside the margin of error. Trump’s current 1-point edge over Biden in the two-way matchup is not. Trump, however, has been narrowly ahead of Biden nationally for at least the last six months. He also tops Biden by 3 points when potential third-party candidates are included (43%-40%), while Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. garners 11%, and Cornel West and Jill Stein get 2% each. In March, Biden trailed by 5 points in each race.

Who does RFK Jr. hurt more, Biden or Trump?

Kennedy’s support comes about equally from those backing Biden (10%) and Trump (9%) in the 2-way matchup. What hurts Biden is that third-party candidates West and Stein siphon more points from him (6%) than Trump (1%).

A majority of Trump supporters (56%) have a favorable view of Kennedy, while a majority of Biden supporters view him negatively (62%). Fewer than one-third of those backing Kennedy have favorable opinions of Biden (31%) and Trump (28%).

Is the erosion of Biden’s support among minorities real?

The survey shows Biden receives 72% support among Black voters. That’s up from 66% in February, but still lags his 79% before the 2020 election.

While Democrats hope these voters will ‘come home’ when it comes time to cast their ballots, no one knows to what extent that will happen. 

There is, however, some precedent for a bounce of the magnitude the Biden campaign is targeting. In April 2020, Biden was at 66% among Blacks and 52% among Hispanics. He ultimately won both groups with much larger percentages, 91% and 63%, respectively, according to the November 2020 Fox News Voter Analysis.

Even so, Democratic pollster Chris Anderson is cautious in his optimism. ‘Biden cannot count on these voters to come home,’ says Anderson, who conducts the Fox News poll with Republican Daron Shaw. ‘It is not just a matter of motivating them to turnout, many need to be persuaded to change their mind. Fortunately for Biden, Trump will provide most of the motivation the base needs and he should be able to focus more on persuasion down the stretch.’

The president’s support has also softened among other groups that form the Democratic base. While he is still favored among suburban women (54%) and moderates (53%), that support is significantly below expectations. Before the 2020 election, those were both 61%. Plus, he only receives 49% among voters under 30, down from 63%.

What groups favor Trump?

Trump is carrying rural voters (+25), Whites without a college degree (+25) and White evangelical Christians (+44).

The preference among ‘new’ voters splits, whether it’s the 2-way (48% Biden vs. 50% Trump) or the hypothetical expanded ballot (39% Biden, 41% Trump, 13% RFK Jr.). New voters are defined as those who haven’t voted in the four most recent general elections.

Fewer of Trump’s 2020 voters defect in the expanded ballot, as he holds onto 87% compared to 80% of Biden’s 2020 voters sticking with him. Independents narrowly favor Trump (+2). Almost all Republicans back Trump, and an equal number of Democrats back Biden.

‘It’s a polarized country and the numbers show that,’ says Shaw. ‘But Trump has a slight advantage among those who aren’t core partisans or haven’t been engaged with politics. That’s part of what gives him the edge right now.’

Who do double haters support?

In 2020, only 6% of voters had an unfavorable opinion of both Biden and Trump, and they backed Biden by 17 points, according to the Fox News Voter Analysis election survey. Currently, 13% fall in the double hater category and they favor Biden by 11 points (48%-37%). That’s despite 87% of them disapproving of the job he is doing and 78% saying the economy is getting worse. In March, they preferred Biden by 2 points, and in February it was Trump by 3. Savvy survey readers know it is normal for results to vary among small subgroups.

Biden (85% favorable among Democrats) and Trump (86% favorable among Republicans) are equally liked among their partisans. Overall, 46% view Trump favorably as a person and 53% unfavorably for a net score of -7 points. Biden is -12 (44%-56%) and Kennedy is underwater by 4 (44%-48%), the first time he’s been in negative territory. 

Here are the scores for the other candidates tested: West (-11), Kamala Harris (-15), Stein (-21). Around half of voters are unfamiliar with West and Stein.

Where is there potential for movement?

In the Biden-Trump matchup, only 4% of voters are undecided, say they plan to back another candidate or won’t vote. While that seems like it leaves little room for movement, 15% peel away when offered other candidate options: 11% for Kennedy, and 2% each for West and Stein.

How is the race so close when more voters trust Trump on top issues?

By double-digit margins, more trust Trump on what are widely considered the two main issues of the campaign: immigration and the economy. Trump is also seen by single-digit margins as better able to handle foreign policy and crime. Biden holds advantages on election integrity, health care and abortion, while energy policy is a tossup between the two.

One reason the head-to-head matchup remains tight is that just because voters believe Trump is better on immigration and the economy doesn’t mean they automatically will support him. Instead, 10%-13% of those voters prefer Biden.

Plus, many who only somewhat disapprove of Biden’s job performance still back his re-election (41%), while virtually all who strongly disapprove favor Trump (93%).

Is the mood of the country improving?

Maybe.

Views on the economy remain negative by more than 2-to-1 (70% negative vs. 30% positive), yet they are at their most positive in nearly three years.

Thirty percent rate economic conditions as excellent or good, up from 17%, the lowest during Biden’s presidency (July 2022). The last time sentiment was this optimistic was in Biden’s first year in office, when in September 2021 it was 30% positive vs. 69% negative.

In addition, 30% say for their family it feels like the economy is getting better, an improvement of 7 points compared to last year. Still, 64% say it feels like things are getting worse.

Inflation is still an issue. For at least 8 in 10, paying for food, gas, utilities and health care is a problem for their family. That includes many who say grocery prices (62%), gas prices (49%), utility costs (44%) and health care costs (44%) are a ‘major’ problem. Three-quarters describe housing costs as a problem (47% major). Fewer, 43%, call student loans a problem (24% major).

Among lower-income households (below $50,000 annually), 71% say grocery prices are a ‘major’ problem, up from 67% last year and 60% in 2022.

The increased optimism on the economy has boosted the president’s job rating to the highest in over a year: 45% of voters approve and 55% disapprove. In March, it was 41%-58%. Since then, his approval is up 5 points among Democrats and 7 points among independents. 

Biden’s marks on specific issues are more negative: Israel-Hamas war (32% approve-64% disapprove), border security (33%-64%) and inflation (34%-64%). His best marks are on the economy, even though he is underwater by 19 points (40%-59%).

Is this election a referendum on the incumbent or the challenger?

The contest is mostly about Trump. Most of his supporters say their vote is for him (71%) rather than against Biden (29%). And while just over half of Biden backers say they are mainly for him (51%), almost as many say their support is better described as against Trump (48%).

What about likely voters?

It’s too soon to talk about likely voters. Most people start thinking about the election much closer to Election Day. Check back after Labor Day. In the meantime, this survey of registered voters finds 68% say they are ‘extremely’ motivated to vote. That’s up 6 points compared to four years ago. These extremely motivated voters favor Trump (51%) over Biden (48%) by 3 points. 

Poll-pourri

Overall, 41% think Biden has the mental soundness to serve effectively as president, up from 37% in March. Half (50%) say the same about Trump, up from 49% two months ago.Some 64% say it is important for Biden and Trump to debate, and another 43% think Kennedy should be included in at least one. More independents (49%) and Republicans (49%) than Democrats (35%) say it’s important for Kennedy to participate.

The survey was conducted during the third week of Trump’s hush money trial in New York. Some 46% think Trump did something illegal, 25% say something unethical but not illegal and 27% say he did nothing wrong. In general, by a 4-point margin, voters think Trump is being treated fairly by the legal system: 51% fairly vs. 47% unfairly. That’s down from an 11-point margin in October 2023 (55%-44%). Democrats (89%) and independents (52%) think he’s being treated fairly, and Republicans say unfairly (85%).Most Biden supporters want him to keep Vice President Harris on the ticket (72%), while those backing Trump have mixed views over whether he should pick a MAGA running mate (47%) or a ‘less’ MAGA Republican who would provide balance (50%).

CLICK HERE FOR AND

Conducted May 10-13 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R), this Fox News survey includes interviews with a sample of 1,126 registered voters randomly selected from a national voter file. Respondents spoke with live interviewers on landlines (133) and cellphones (700) or completed the survey online after receiving a text (293). Results based on the full sample have a margin of sampling error of ±3 percentage points. Weights are generally applied to age, race, education, and area variables to ensure the demographics of respondents are representative of the registered voter population.

Fox News’ Victoria Balara contributed to this report.

This post appeared first on FOX NEWS