New poll gives insight into challenges 2024 candidates face in their own parties

With less than a year until the first primaries of the 2024 presidential contest, the battle lines are becoming clearer. As President Biden readies for a reelection campaign, his would-be Republican opponents are figuring out which voters could back them. That's the focus of a new PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll. Lisa Desjardins breaks down the results with Domenico Montanaro of NPR.

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  • Geoff Bennett:

    With less than a year until the first primaries of the 2024 presidential contest, the battle lines are becoming clearer, and so is the field of candidates.

    Lisa Desjardins takes stock of where the race stands.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's right, Geoff.

    As President Biden readies a reelection campaign, potentially, his would-be Republican opponents are figuring out which voters could back them. It's the focus of a new "PBS NewsHour"/NPR/Marist poll.

    Domenico Montanaro is senior political editor and correspondent at NPR. And he's here to walk us through some of the results.

    It's great to see you again.

  • Domenico Montanaro, Political Editor, NPR:

    Good to be back, Lisa.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Let's start with Mr. Biden, who is considering his reelection campaign or not. What do these numbers say about him?

  • Domenico Montanaro:

    Well, I think everyone widely expects that Biden is going to run for reelection.

  • Lisa Desjardins:


  • Domenico Montanaro:

    And I think that that's actually had a big effect on Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, who in this poll now for the first time are saying, a majority saying that they feel like their best shot in 2024 is with Biden, and not with someone else.

    You can see Biden's approval rating is now up to 46 percent, ticked up a bit after his State of the Union address. He's also up to 49 percent with registered voters. The 46 percent is the highest he's been in a year. The 49 percent is the highest he's been since the Afghan withdrawal, so good news for President Biden as he's heading into what's going to be, expected to be a campaign reelection.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    And how's he doing with independents?

  • Domenico Montanaro:

    Well, so, that's his one big vulnerability still.

    This is a group that he won in 2020. He's only got a 36 percent approval rating with independents. That is still a problem and a thing that the White House is going to be targeting, looking at. And it's why you heard in the State of the Union address a message that was so targeted seemingly to the center.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Let's talk about the other presidential reelection candidate, of course, former President Donald Trump, who today was in East Palestine, Ohio, the site of that train derailment, of course, there making a pitch, saying he was trying to help out the community, talking about his criticisms of the Biden administration.

    What do these numbers tell us about President Trump?

  • Domenico Montanaro:

    Well, it's not as rosy a picture for former President Trump?

    He wants the job back to be president, but there are a whole lot of Republicans who are likely going to try to stop him from getting that job. And what this poll finds is that there is actually an appetite for some other Republicans to try to get in, because you can see 52 percent of Republicans said that they want someone else. They think someone else gives them the best chance to win; 42 percent say Trump, but that 52 percent, we're looking at people looking at potentially someone like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    We're going to come back and talk about him in a minute. But I want to also note that there are other someone elses seeing this opening, including, last night, we had a new Republican announce a candidacy on FOX News, Vivek Ramaswamy. He is a businessman.

    Here's what he had to say.

    Vivek Ramaswamy (R), Presidential Candidate: We are in the middle of this national identity crisis, Tucker, where we have celebrated our diversity and our differences for so long, that we forgot all of the ways we're really just the same as Americans bound by a common set of ideals that set this nation into motion 250 years ago.

    And that's why I'm proud to say tonight that I am running for United States president to revive those ideals in this country.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Ohio businessman, founded a pharmaceutical company and investment firm as well. He's running on what he says his anti-wokism. He's using that kind of phrase.

    But I think a lot of folks when they say someone else, at the top of that list from polling right now is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. What do we see about him in this poll?

  • Domenico Montanaro:


    And I think the biggest issue for Trump when you look inside these numbers of people saying that they don't want him or don't think that he's the best fit for 2024, he's really struggling with white-collar voters, people who make more than $50,000 a year, people who are college graduates.

    And these are all people who DeSantis is actually doing well with. When you look at Trump's numbers and DeSantis' numbers, it's like they're mirror images of each other when you look inside their favorability ratings. You can see, with voters without a college degree, Trump does better. Voters with college degrees, DeSantis does better. Less than $50,000 a year, Trump does better. More than $50,000 a year, DeSantis does better.

    And with those Republican-leaning independents, that's where Trump really struggles. He's at 50 percent — 57 percent favorability, with that group, but really the dislike of Trump is what's so much higher than for DeSantis. And DeSantis has a lot to prove

    Look, this is very early. We have to say that there is room for a anti-Trump candidate who can appeal to those white-collar workers. But the problem is, how many of them are going to get in? If they flood the zone, a multicandidate environment is something that could ultimately help Trump because he does have a share of the pie.

    Used to say in 2016 that it seems like it's made of titanium. Maybe the metal has melted a little bit, but he still has a very sizable chunk of Republicans. And if a lot of other Republicans flood the zone, it could give Trump an easy path to the nomination.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Someone getting attention as well, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina. He was in Iowa today. He hasn't announced yet.

    But this poll does ask about someone who did announce, which is former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and also someone who presumed is interested, former Vice President Mike Pence, What do we say briefly about those two?

  • Domenico Montanaro:

    Well, two things on each of them.

    Haley, the biggest issue for her is that 46 percent say that they're unsure about her. It means she's got a lot to prove. Pence, really not as well-liked as either DeSantis or Trump. And that includes with white evangelical Christians, who are supposed to be Pence's base.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Haley more room to grow, though. We will see what happens.

    Domenico Montanaro, thank you so much.

  • Domenico Montanaro:

    Thank you for having me.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    And our thanks to Lisa Desjardins.

    Tomorrow, we will have more results from our poll, including views on some of the biggest issues facing Congress, like the debt limit and aid to Ukraine.

    And you can, of course, read more of the poll's findings on our Web site,

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