Poll: Biden now leads Trump by widest margin in 6 months

·West Coast Correspondent
·4-min read

As President Biden’s approval rating continues to bounce back from its summertime lows, a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll now shows him leading former President Donald Trump in a 2024 rematch by the widest margin since March.

The survey of 1,634 U.S. adults was conducted from Sept. 2 to Sept. 6 — immediately after a combative primetime speech last Thursday, in which Biden blasted “Trump and the MAGA Republicans” as “extremists” who “threat[en] the very foundations of our republic.”

The poll found that if the next presidential election “were held today,” 48% of registered voters would choose Biden, while 42% would choose Trump. Biden’s new 6-point lead is 3 points larger than his edge in the previous Yahoo News/YouGov survey from late August (Biden 45%, Trump 42%) and 4 points better than his average lead across all Yahoo News/YouGov surveys conducted between April and July (Biden 44%, Trump 42%). The poll’s margin of error is approximately 2.6%.

President Biden sits at a desk during a Cabinet meeting.
President Biden during a Cabinet meeting at the White House on Tuesday. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The last time Biden led Trump in a Yahoo News/YouGov poll by 6 percentage points or more among registered voters was in March 2022 (Biden 47% to Trump 39%). The time before that was in May 2021 (Biden 48% to Trump 39%). Notably, Biden’s support today (48%) matches those previous highs.

None of which means Biden is a lock to defeat Trump in 2024. The election is still years away, and Trump won in 2016 despite losing the national popular vote (largely because Republican voters tend to live in rural states that are overrepresented in the Electoral College). Meanwhile, more Americans still disapprove than approve of Biden’s performance in office.

But the president’s improving numbers against his former (and possibly future) opponent represent a modest sign that he is rebounding from a prolonged summer slump. Possible reasons for his rising popularity include falling gas prices and the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which will lower the cost of prescription drugs, electric vehicles and solar panels, among other provisions.

Predictably, Biden’s gains have been concentrated on the left, while Republicans remain nearly unanimously opposed to him. Among all Americans, the president’s approval rating now stands at 40% approve (unchanged since late August) to 52% disapprove (down from 53% in late August). Among registered voters, Biden’s numbers are 43% and 53%, respectively.

A man stands at a table as he fills out his ballot.
A voter fills out his ballot at an early voting location in a town hall. (Craig F. Walker/the Boston Globe via Getty Images)

That’s the president’s best showing since May — and it’s because his approval rating climbed 7 points among Democrats (to 79%) and 6 points among independents (to 32%) over the last month.

At the same time, more Democrats now say America is “generally headed in the right direction” (48%) than “off on the wrong track” (38%). In early August, those numbers were reversed.

As a result, Biden has strengthened his standing for 2024, which had been looking unusually weak for an incumbent. Whereas in early August, Democrats and independents who lean Democratic preferred “someone else” over Biden as the Democratic nominee by a 55% to 27% margin, the number who now say they prefer Biden is up 8 points, to 35%, and the number who say they prefer someone else is down 13 points, to 42%.

Among Democrats only, Biden has gained even more ground. He now leads “someone else” by 4 points here (41% to 37%); one month ago, he trailed 29% to 52%. Likewise, Democrats now say by a 14-point margin that Biden should run again in 2024 (44% yes, 30% no); in early August, more Democrats said he shouldn’t (43%) than said he should (35%). Over the same period, the share of Democrats who believe the president is “up to the challenges facing the U.S.” has increased by 10 points (to 64%).

Trump has made his own gains recently — in large part because Republicans seem to have coalesced around him after the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8. A full 55% of Republicans and independents who lean Republican now prefer Trump over “someone else” for the 2024 GOP nomination, up from 54% in the previous Yahoo News/YouGov survey and 47% in early August.

Former President Donald Trump stands at a podium as he speaks during a rally.
Former President Donald Trump at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Sept. 3. (Michelle Gustafson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Yet there are also signs of vulnerability for Trump as new revelations continue to emerge about his handling of highly classified documents. Less than half of Republicans and Republican leaners now prefer Trump (48%) over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (34%). A growing number of independents — 39%, up 7 points from two weeks ago — believe Trump would be a weaker candidate in 2024 than in 2020. And a full 55% of Americans say the former president should be barred from serving again in the future if he is found guilty of “mishandling highly classified documents” or “obstructing” the ongoing Justice Department investigation. Just a quarter of Americans say Trump should be allowed to serve again in that scenario.

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The Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,634 U.S. adults interviewed online from Sept. 2 to Sept. 6, 2022. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2020 presidential vote (or nonvote) and voter registration status. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. adults. The margin of error is approximately 2.6%.