Democratic Primaries & Trump Approval Rating, Sep 2019

NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist National Poll

Presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren outshines her Democratic rivals in terms of popularity. Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, Warren enjoys the highest favorable rating (75%) of the field and ties Pete Buttigieg for the lowest negative score (11%). Warren’s net favorability rating (64%) eclipses that of Joe Biden’s (49%). Biden’s favorable rating is 71%. His unfavorable score is 22%, double that of Warren.

“Heading into this week’s debate, Warren is well-positioned for a breakout moment,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “She is both well-known and favorably viewed by Democratic voters. The debate will test whether or not she can convert this popularity into greater support.”

Among voters who identify as Democrats, Warren (+70 points) has the advantage over Biden (+52 points) in terms of net favorability. Warren also outscores Biden among voters who identify as independents but lean towards the Democrats. Among these voters, Warren’s net favorable score is +52 points compared with +44 points for Biden.

Notably, among Democrats and Democratic leaning independents, Warren’s net favorable rating among moderates is +49 points, higher than Biden’s net favorable score among progressives (+38).  Warren is making greater headway into Biden’s core support of moderates than Biden is making into Warren’s base of progressives.

Americans, overall, divide about both Biden (44% favorable to 45% unfavorable) and Warren (40% favorable to 40% unfavorable). Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, who round out the top four candidates, have favorable scores that are upside down nationally.

“The best known Democrats may be viewed well among their party faithful, but have a long way to go to connect with the national electorate,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “When Republicans and Republican leaning independents are added to the mix, they each end up with high negatives.”

Electability is the priority for Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. 58% report that it is more important that their party nominate a candidate with the best chance of defeating President Donald Trump in the general election than select a nominee who shares their positions on most issues (39%). The desire to nominate a candidate with strong general election prospects has intensified. 54% of these Democratic voters reported beating Trump was their priority in July, and 46% said the same in June, the first time this question was reported.

Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents also emphasize electability (61%) over having a Democratic presidential nominee who inspires them (37%).

Americans overall divide about the ideas put forth by the Democrats running for president although there has been an improvement since July. 46% of Americans say the Democratic candidates’ ideas would generally move the country in the right direction. 43% report they would move the country in the wrong direction. When last reported in July, the results were reversed. 46% of Americans said the candidates’ proposals would move the nation in the wrong direction. 43% believed the Democrats would move the country in the right one. While there has been little change among Democrats and independents since that time, fewer Republicans, 85% down from 91%, assert the candidates’ ideas would lead the nation down the wrong path.

Most Americans (80%) say they will keep an eye on what transpires during this Thursday’s presidential debate. Included here are 38% who say they will watch all or most of the debate and 42% who say they will not watch it but who will pay close attention to news stories afterward. 18% say they will not watch nor follow news about the debate.

Regardless of whom they plan to support, a plurality of Americans (46%) think President Trump will win the 2020 election. 37% say the Democratic candidate will claim victory, and 16% are unsure.

President Trump’s reelection numbers and job approval rating are mostly consistent with his previous scores. A majority of registered voters nationally (52%) assert they will definitely vote against Trump in the 2020 election. 38% say they will definitely vote for him, and 9% are unsure. When this question was last reported in July, similar proportions of voters held these views (53% to 39%).

President Trump’s overall job approval rating stands at 41%. 54% of Americans disapprove, and 5% are unsure. In July, 44% approved of how Trump was doing in office. 52% disapproved, and 5% were unsure. 28% of those who approve of the president’s job performance strongly do so. 45% who disapprove, strongly hold this view. Of note, the proportion of those who strongly disapprove of Trump’s job performance has inched up slightly from 41% previously.

There are signs Americans’ positive perceptions of the president’s handling of the economy may be softening. Americans now divide. 47% of residents approve of how the president is dealing with the economy, and 48% do not. In July, 53% approved of Trump’s approach toward the economy, and 43% disapproved. Notably, among voters who approve of how President Trump is handling the economy, 77% report they will definitely vote for the president. Among those who approve of the president’s overall job performance, 87% say the same.

Similarly, 47% say the president’s actions have strengthened the economy, and 46% report they have weakened the economy. When this question was last reported in July 2018, 46% thought Trump’s decisions strengthened the economy, and 40% said they weakened it. Democrats (81% from 70%) and independents (45% from 37%) have become increasingly dissatisfied.

Still, Americans have an optimistic view of the current economic conditions in the United States. 51% rate the economy as excellent (17%) or good (34%). This is comparable to the 53% of Americans with this view in July when the Gallup Organization asked this question. 34% rate today’s economic conditions as only fair, and 14% consider them to be poor.

A majority of Americans (56%) disapprove of how President Trump is handling foreign policy. 39% approve. Previously, 53% disapproved, and 42% approved.

Complete September 12, 2019 NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll Release of the United States

Complete September 12, 2019 NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll of the United States (Tables of Adults and Registered Voters)

Marist Poll Methodology

Nature of the Sample