A significant number of both Democrats and Republicans currently hope to see their parties find alternatives to President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump in the next presidential election, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS. But very few have specific candidates in mind, underscoring how distant – and potentially mutable – the 2024 race remains.
The survey, conducted in January and February, found that 45% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters wanted to see the party renominate Biden in 2024, while 51% preferred a different candidate. There’s more support in the party for Biden among voters 45 and older (52% of whom want to see him as the nominee again), voters of color (55%) and voters without a college degree (51%). There’s also a gap between the 48% of self-identified Democrats who want to see Biden renominated and the third of Democratic-leaning independents who felt the same. The 2024 support for Biden is concentrated among his most ardent backers in the party. While 70% of Democratic voters who strongly approve of the way he’s handling the job said they’d like to see him renominated, that drops to just 35% among Democrats who said they approve moderately.
Across the aisle, Republican and Republican-leaning voters are about evenly split between wanting their party to nominate Trump again (50%) or wanting a different candidate (49%). A majority of Republicans (54%) favored Trump, compared with 38% of Republican-leaning independents. Continued support for the former president within the GOP is also particularly strong among White voters without a college degree (60%) and those who falsely claim Biden’s 2020 victory was illegitimate (64%).
The next presidential primaries are, of course, almost two years away, and these poll findings are no prediction of what the nomination process will look like then. What they do provide is a glimpse of the current state of the parties: Both are divided over whether to rally behind their current flagbearers, but neither has anointed an alternative as yet.
The numbers for both Biden and Trump look tepid compared with past poll results on a similar question. In March 2010, nearly 8 in 10 Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters said they wanted the party to renominate Barack Obama (79%). And in March 2018, Republican and Republican-leaning voters were solidly behind Trump’s renomination (77%).
But the new poll also suggests that the hesitance over both Biden and Trump stems more from electability and other concerns than because their partisans don’t want them to be president.
Of those Democratic-aligned voters hoping to see Biden replaced on the ticket, 31% said it was because they didn’t want him to be reelected. Thirty-five percent said it was mostly because they doubted Biden’s ability to win against a Republican candidate, and the rest offered up other reasons for wanting to switch up the ticket – the most common (19%) being concerns about Biden’s age. (Biden will turn 82 in November 2024.)
Democratic-aligned voters also aren’t yet gravitating en masse toward any specific alternatives: Only 12% of all Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters wanted to see a nominee who isn’t Biden and had a specific alternative in mind. No individual candidate was named by more than 5% of those who didn’t want Biden atop the ticket.
On the Republican side, only 39% of those hoping Trump isn’t on the ticket said it’s specifically because they don’t want to see him as president again. Twenty-two percent said they doubted Trump could win against the Democrats, while 38% had other reasons, including wanting a fresher candidate (9%) or someone less polarizing (7%), or due to concerns over Trump’s personality (6%).
Just 19% of all Republican-aligned voters had a preferred alternative to Trump in mind, the CNN Poll found, while 29% picked “just someone besides Trump.” But among those looking for alternatives to Trump, one name stood out: 21% of those voters mentioned Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, with no other potential candidate getting more than 1%.
Even this early, Americans were more likely to say they were looking forward to the next presidential election (58%) than dreading it (41%). But there’s a notable partisan divide: 81% of GOP-aligned respondents, but just 44% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, said they were looking forward to 2024.
The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS January 10 through February 6 among a random national sample of 1,527 adults initially reached by mail, and is the second survey CNN has conducted using this methodology. Surveys were either conducted online or by telephone with a live interviewer. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.
CNN’s Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.