President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the debt ceiling at the White House on May 9, 2023, in Washington, DC.
CNN  — 

President Joe Biden’s bid for a second term begins with a wide advantage over his declared opponents for the Democratic nomination, but he faces headwinds among the overall public from declining favorability and a widespread view that his reelection would be more negative than positive for the country, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS.

Just a third of Americans say that Biden winning in 2024 would be a step forward or a triumph for the country (33%). At the same time, the survey finds a decline in favorable views of Biden over the past six months, from 42% in December to 35% now. And results from the same poll released earlier this week showed Biden’s approval rating for handling the presidency at 40%, among the lowest for any first-term president since Dwight Eisenhower at this point in their term.

Within his own party, 60% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters say they back Biden for the top of next year’s Democratic ticket, 20% favor activist and lawyer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and 8% back author Marianne Williamson. Another 8% say they would support an unnamed “someone else.”

Biden’s primary supporters are largely locked in: 58% say they would definitely support him and 42% say that they could change their minds. In contrast, those backing other candidates are far from committed, with just 19% in that group saying they definitely will support their first-choice candidate and 81% saying that they could change their minds.

The poll suggests that Biden would likely win the support of the vast majority of Democratic-aligned voters in 2024. Just 14% in that group say they wouldn’t back him in the primary. And only 7% say they definitely would not support him in November 2024 should he win the party’s nod.

But the results signal that Biden could face a challenge keeping Democratic-aligned White non-college voters in his camp in next year’s general election: 16% of these voters say they definitely won’t support Biden in November 2024, compared with 1% of White Democratic-aligned voters with college degrees and 5% of Democratic-aligned voters of color.

Biden’s weak spots in the race for the nomination are concentrated among independents who lean Democratic (40% back Biden for the nod, compared with 67% among self-identified Democrats) and younger voters (49% of those younger than 45 say they back Biden compared with 68% among those age 45 or older).

Majorities of all Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters say they would at least consider backing either Kennedy (64% support him or would consider him) or Williamson (53% back her or would consider her), but when asked to explain the main reasons they would consider each of them, few seem deeply tied to either candidate.

Among those who would consider Kennedy, 20% cite his connections to the Kennedy family as the main reason. One said, “I liked his dad (RFK) and his uncle (JFK) a lot. I would hope he has a similar mindset.” Many suggested they are merely open to learning more: 17% say they just don’t know enough about him to rule him out and 10% that they are open-minded and would consider any candidate. One respondent explained they would consider him, “Because a reasonable person considers things before making choices. It has nothing to do with RFK himself, just that I wouldn’t automatically say ‘no’ without consideration first.” Some say they’d back any Democrat (10%) or anyone who is not Trump (5%). About 1 in 8 (12%) say they would consider him because they support his views or policies and 4% mention his views specifically on environmental issues.

Nearly 3 in 10 who say they would consider Williamson say they don’t know enough about her (28%), 16% say they’d consider her because she’s a Democrat, 8% that they’d consider any candidate or are open-minded, and 9% say that they see her as an alternative to Biden. One said, “She is better than Joe Biden. I haven’t heard of her though.” Another 10% point to the desire for a female candidate, and 12% say they support he