How voters feel about the 2024 candidates so far | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

Candidates still have a chance to make a powerful first impression, and this poll suggests some have much further to go than others, according to this latest PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll. Photo by Sandy Huffaker/AFP via Getty Images

With the first primary elections months away, the candidates who aren’t either Joe Biden or Donald Trump all have some ground to make up in terms of favorability and name recognition, according to a new PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll.

Despite the historic legal controversy ensnaring Trump and lackluster approval ratings for Biden, the latest numbers suggest the nation would be heading for a rematch if the election were held now — exactly what voters have said they don’t want, according to Republican strategist Whit Ayres.

So much can happen between today and Election Day, but Trump’s ability to capture public attention is unlikely to change, said Amy Walter, of the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter.

Candidates still have a chance to make a powerful first impression, and this poll suggests some have much further to go than others. In order for any of the other conservatives vying to be the next president to cut through the noise surrounding Trump, they must make a choice, Republican strategist Douglas Heye said: “You’re either going to have to take Trump on directly, or you’re playing such a long game here hoping that the situation takes care of itself that you’re really not playing a game at all.”

This poll also found that about six out of 10 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said it was more important that a presidential nominee stands on conservative principles than having the best chances of defeating Biden, the incumbent. For both parties, issues such as abortion and gender identity have become key points of the political discourse, and will no doubt be featured prominently in the 2024 race.

Here are some takeaways on where Americans stand on those issues and more, when surveyed June 12 to 14 in this latest poll.

A look at the 2024 presidential candidates

Among likely Republican voters, 76 percent said they hold a favorable impression of Trump – a view that has remained “the picture of stability” for years, despite unprecedented controversies, Ayres said.

A CNN poll released Tuesday suggested that support for Trump had softened in the days after he was charged last week with federal felonies related to withholding classified documents. Conducted June 13 to 17, the poll found the former president was still the frontrunner.

Part of Trump’s political success has depended on his ability to have “persuaded people that an attack on him is an attack on them,” Ayres said.

“Republicans have made up their minds about Donald Trump,” and it doesn’t seem like anything is going to change that, he said.

“As long as he is still active, politics will continue to revolve around him,” Walter said. “In 2024, it will be as much about Donald Trump as it will be about the incumbent president of the United States.”

The field of Republican candidates willing to challenge Trump has grown to double digits since he announced his White House run in November.

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is viewed favorably by 67 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. His appeal and name recognition have remained statistically unchanged since July 2022 when Marist began asking about him in surveys.
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence is viewed favorably by about half of likely Republican voters. But his favorability has slid substantially – by 14 percentage points – over the last year. He has been criticized by Democrats and some Republicans for not taking a more full-throated position against the former president during the Jan. 6 investigations, when evidence showed Trump demonstrated no concern that Pence’s life was in danger at the Capitol, nor as Trump’s legal woes continued. And Trump loyalists feel the former vice president betrayed Trump by not interfering with the electoral votes.

Likely Democratic voters continue to view the current president favorably. But for him to gain momentum, the Biden campaign will need to carefully monitor the nation’s economy in its tender state of recovery, as many still feel the effects of inflation, Walter said.

Among all U.S. adults, Biden has an approval rating of 45 percent — another data point that has fluctuated very little over much of his presidency. He’s struggled with enthusiasm for his leadership, with 23 percent in this latest poll saying they strongly approve of his work. Another 38 percent of Americans say they strongly disapprove. One test for Biden as he starts to hold 2024 reelection events is whether people’s sense of his work changes as he touts his accomplishments in the White House.

  • President Joe Biden is viewed favorably by eight out of 10 Democrats (83 percent) — an attitude that has held steady among his base since his administration began.
  • Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is viewed favorably by about a third of likely Democratic voters. Roughly as many Democrats think of him unfavorably, while another third are unsure about who he is. Son of attorney general, civil rights advocate and assassinated 1968 presidential candidate, Robert F. Kennedy, Sr., the younger Kennedy has promoted anti-vaccine conspiracy theories.
  • Fewer than half of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say they know author and two-time Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson.

Independents will continue to be important to this election’s outcome, particularly for Democrats attempting to hold onto the White House, Walter said: “In election after election, the candidate who is able to effectively win the independent voters has been the successful candidate.” At the state level, independents will play different roles on different issues, she said.

Gender transition-related care

This latest poll suggests that most people are still processing what it means to offer care to transgender people seeking a gender transition. But on these issues, “partisanship is driving policies,” said Pearl K. Dowe, a political scientist from Emory University.

Chart by Vanessa Dennis/PBS NewsHour

Conservative lawmakers in several states have pushed for restrictions that limit access to care for people based on gender identity, often seeking to capitalize on voter anger over parental rights and child safety. Many of these measures have been challenged, in the legislatures or in courts. In Arkansas on Tuesday, a federal judge struck down the nation’s first law that banned gender-affirming care. But others have become law, and advocates worry about both the erosion of rights and the harmful side effects these restrictions can have on physical and mental health.

These latest poll numbers also show “you can appreciate why Republicans are using this issue as a wedge,” Walter said. “They would say Democrats are out of step with where the country is.”

  • A third of Republicans — 37 percent — feel no one, regardless of age, should be able to receive gender transition-related health care. Overall, 23 percent of Americans agree.
  • At the same time, 45 percent of Americans say people should be able to receive such care, but only at or after age 18. Half of Republicans and independents and a third of Democrats felt that way.
  • Meanwhile, 31 percent of Americans said care should be available to adults or children who have received parental consent — something half of Democrats support.

Abortion attitudes a year after Dobbs

A majority of Americans say they oppose the Supreme Court’s decision a year ago that overturned Roe v. Wade and ended federal protections for abortion. At 57 percent, that attitude has remained virtually unchanged since last June, even as states have passed new laws that restrict access to abortion-related services. In this latest poll, opposition is strongest among Democratic women (74 percent) and weakest among Republican men (19 percent). A third of Republican women oppose the Supreme Court’s action on abortion rights.

Chart by Vanessa Dennis/PBS NewsHour

Attitudes about abortion rights have “been steady for years,” Walter said. But she added that those state and judicial-level actions tied to abortion access mean this decision is “still reverberating and I think will continue into 2024.”

Roughly six in 10 Americans — 59 percent — hold little to no confidence in the Supreme Court — an attitude that has changed little since a draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson was publicly leaked in May 2022, revealing that Supreme Court justices were likely to roll back constitutional protections on abortion rights. Those attitudes are a far-cry from what they were in 2019 when 36 percent of U.S. adults felt that way.

The PBS NewsHour, NPR and Marist Poll conducted a survey between June 12 and June 14 that polled 1,327 U.S. adults with a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points and 1,212 registered voters with a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.


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