National poll finds Biden-Trump tie. State of the Union didn’t help president.

21 March 2024

The presidential election is a dead heat between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

A nationwide Florida Atlantic University poll released Tuesday found Biden and Trump tied at 44%.

When the responses were narrowed to likely voters, Biden fared slightly better, but the contest is still essentially tied, with 47% for Biden and 45% for Trump.

That’s generally in line with most recent national polls, which have one or the other candidate slightly ahead. The latest RealClearPolling average had Trump leading Biden, 45.5% to 47.2%.

And it’s somewhat expected given “how highly partisan this race is and how fairly evenly divided the country is,” said Kevin Wagner, a Florida Atlantic University political scientist.

The FAU poll was conducted among voters across the country, and comes as five states, including Florida, are holding their presidential primaries — even though the Biden vs. Trump contest is, for all practical purposes, set.

The election is almost eight months away, and public opinion can shift. And the outcome is determined in state-by-state races for electoral votes, not the overall national totals.

Relatively few people are open to changing their minds. The poll found 4% of those surveyed said they’d vote for another candidate and 4% were undecided.

The FAU poll found the vast majority of Democrats favor Biden (86% to 8%) and the overwhelming majority of Republicans favor Trump (86% to 9%).

Independents are evenly split at 43% for Biden and 40% for Trump, which is within the margin of error and not a statistically significant difference.

The never Trump, never Biden votes

Non-Trump voters were asked why they felt the way they did.

It was an easy question for the overwhelming majority: 67% of non-Trump voters who responded that they would “never” consider voting for him.

That left a relatively small share of non-Trump voters to explain other reasons. The top concern of non-Trump voters was performance, cited by 12%. Just 2% cited the former president’s age. He is 77.

Among non-Trump voters age 18-to-34, 43% said they would “never” consider voting for him, while among those 65 and older, it was 79%.

Non-Biden voters were asked the same question, with 43% saying they would never consider voting for him.

The top concern for non-Biden voters was “performance,” cited by 30%, followed by age, cited by 2%. He is 81.

The reasons for not supporting Biden varied for different groups. Among 18-34 year-olds, 37% cited performance and 11% cited age. Among votes 65 and older, 23% cited performance and just 5% cited age.

No SOTU boost

Biden’s performance at the annual State of the Union Address, which  many independent analysts said was a strong showing that dispelled the narrative that he isn’t mentally up to the job, didn’t produce a rush of voters to him.

Among all voters, 29% said his State of the Union speech made them view Biden as more fit for office with 34% saying it made no change. But 37% said it made him less fit.

Wagner said some of the reaction to the State of the Union is “clearly driven by partisanship. People see political events through their partisan lens.” Still, he said, he expected “Biden was likely to get a more positive response than our numbers suggested. And I expect that would be disappointing for the Biden (campaign).”

Women were more likely than men to say it made him more fit. Men were more likely to say the speech  made him less fit.

There was the usual partisan split as well, with 52% of Democrats saying they saw Biden as more fit after the State of the Union Address and 63% of Republicans said they believe Biden is less fit.

It didn’t help Biden with independents, with 25% saying the speech made Biden seem more fit and 35% less fit.

Overall, Biden is underwater, with more people disapproving of his performance than approving.

His approval is 47% and disapproval 51%.

Wagner said the approval rating for Biden is higher than in some other recent national surveys. “It’s a much better number for Biden than we’ve seen,” he said. It could be a one-time result based on this survey’s sample or, more significantly, the beginning of an improvement for Biden.

There’s no significant difference between men and women.

Age differences

Biden’s approval is lower among the youngest voters (39%) than among the oldest voters (53%).

The Biden vs. Trump matchup question revealed some potentially significant differences among the youngest and oldest voters.

The poll found younger likely voters (traditionally a demographic group that favors Democrats) favor Trump. And older voters (who turn out in greater numbers than younger voters) favored Biden.

18-34 year-olds: Biden, 37%; Trump 54%.35-49 year-olds: Biden, 44%; Trump 48%.50-64 year-olds: Biden, 46%; Trump 43%.65 and older: Biden, 54%; Trump 41%.

The differences among age groups were surprising Wagner said, adding that the responses of younger voters are a cause for concern for the Biden campaign if it continues.

“It would be one thing to see younger voters who were disenchanted or unhappy with Biden’s performance. We’ve seen some evidence of that related to foreign policy, both Israel and Ukraine,” Wagner said. What is potentially ominous for the president’s reelection, he said, was “not just that Biden was doing less well, but Trump was doing considerably better…. It’s hard to see how Biden can win without doing disproportionately well with younger voters.”

Gender divide

The poll found men favor Trump and women favor Biden.

Among female likely voters, Biden was at 53% with Trump at 38%, an advantage of 15 percentage points for the president.

Among male likely voters, Biden had 41% compared to 51% for Trump, an advantage of 10 points for the former president.

Income differences

Lower income voters prefer Trump. As earnings increase, support for Biden increases as well.

Less than $50,000: Biden, 42%; Trump, 51%.
$50,000 to $75,000: Biden 48%; Trump 39%.
$75,000 to $100,000: Biden 52%; Trump 41%.
More than $100,000: Biden 56%; Trump 38%.

House of Representatives

Voters are evenly divided about the U.S. House of Representatives, with 45% of likely voters saying they’d vote for Democrats if the election were held today and 44% for Republicans.

Party affiliation has a huge correlation with how people would vote in congressional races, with 88% of Democrats voting for a candidate in their party and 92% of Republicans voting for one of their own.

Independents split 41% for Democrats and 35% for Republicans.

Fine print

The poll of 1,053 registered voters was conducted March 15 through March 17 by Mainstreet Research for Florida Atlantic University’s PolCom Lab, which is a collaboration of the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies and Department of Political Science.

The survey used text messages to reach registered voters who responded to a link to complete the survey online and used automated phone calls to reach other voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full survey of Democrats, Republicans and independents. The margin of error for smaller groups, such as Republicans or Democrats, or men and women, is higher because the sample sizes are smaller.

Anthony Man can be reached at [email protected] and can be found @browardpolitics on Facebook, and

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