The Swing Voters Who Abandoned Joe Biden

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Donald Trump exited the White House with the lowest presidential approval rating in nearly three decades, a record surpassed only by the even more severe unpopularity of his successor. While Joe Biden’s disapproval rating has grown throughout his time in office to a net -18 points underwater, Trump has actually seen a recovery. Despite facing multiple legal challenges, including four separate criminal trials and a civil suit against his business, along with a defamation suit concerning a rape allegation he strongly denies, “Teflon Don” has bounced back from his near net -20 point low following the Jan. 6 riots to a net -10.

Simply put, neither the former president nor the current one is particularly popular. Less than half of all voters approve of Trump, and fewer than two in five approve of Biden. A significant portion of the electorate, roughly 20%, dislikes both men vying for a second term in the presidency.

This group of “double haters,” voters who dislike both major party presidential nominees, has been a key indicator over the past decade. This is crucial for Trump, as the double haters have determined that, despite their personal dislike of him, they have an even stronger aversion to Biden’s America.

Morning Consult and Marquette estimate that “double haters” make up 19% of the electorate, while Monmouth puts the figure at 17%. The double haters of 2024 are predominantly younger than 35 and Latino. While they are more likely than the rest of the electorate to support the independent bid of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., this is not due to his anti-vaxxer stance, which actually weakens his support among double haters. Instead, double haters appear to be former Biden supporters who are now seeking alternatives.

According to the latest NPR/Marist poll of the national electorate, Biden garners just 18% of the double hater vote, while Trump captures 34% and Kennedy 22%. For Republicans, this marks an improvement from last month’s Monmouth poll, which found that 26% of double haters would likely back Biden and 19% would back Trump.

Double haters comprised nearly the same portion of the electorate in 2016 as they do today, with Trump winning this group by 17 points against Hillary Clinton. In 2020, double haters shrank to just 3% of the electorate, but Biden won them by 15 points.

Similar to 2020, a Democratic victory in 2024 will require even greater reliance on voter turnout. However, the shift among double haters underscores what Trump’s swing state dominance has suggested for weeks: The voter turnout that helped Biden win his first term is waning. These voters are either diverting their votes to fringe candidates like Kennedy or Cornel West as a protest, choosing to sit out the election entirely, or, most concerning for Biden, voting outright for Trump. While double haters may disapprove of everyone, they unfortunately seem to disapprove of the incumbent the most.

Tiana Lowe Doescher
Tiana Lowe Doescher
Commentary Writer. Tiana is also an on-air contributor for The First on Pluto TV. She previously interned for National Review and founded the USC Economics Review. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.S. in economics and mathematics.

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