Joe Biden's core Democratic support takes big hit after debate, exclusive poll shows (2024)

President Joe Biden's core support has been shaken by his stumbling performance in last week's debate, an exclusive USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds, fueling a furor over whether he should continue his candidacy.

More than 4 in 10 Democrats, 41%, said the Democratic Party should replace Biden as its presidential nominee. That included 37% of those who say they plan to vote for him.

"There's no question the debate sent out shockwaves across the political landscape," said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk Political Research Center. "Democrats in the poll are offering tough love to President Biden by saying to him, 'You've served us well, but try to see yourself last Thursday night through our eyes. Hold your head up high, it's time to go.'"

The survey found broad discontent with both major-party candidates, but Republican Donald Trump's base remains solid despite criticism of his truthfulness in the debate. Only 14% of Republicans and 12% of Trump supporters said the GOP should replace him on its ticket.

Joe Biden's core Democratic support takes big hit after debate, exclusive poll shows (1)

The poll of 1,000 registered voters, taken by landline and cellphone Friday through Sunday, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Prep for the polls: See who is running for president and compare where they stand on key issues in our Voter Guide

No debate: Donald Trump won

The survey left no doubt which candidate "won" the CNN debate in Atlanta Thursday night.

By nearly 5 to 1, 50% to 11%, those surveyed said Trump won over Biden. Only 28% of Biden supporters said their candidate won, compared with 86% of Trump supporters who said their candidate won.

The issue for Democratic leaders and strategists now is whether scoring the debate will affect how people vote, and whether the debate's impact fades or intensifies in the weeks ahead.

The Biden campaign has been trying to tamp down a political firestorm over the meandering performance by the 81-year-old president, who sometimes seemed to lose his train of thought. Aides argue that the fundamentals of a close campaign haven't changed and that he already has begun to address concerns about his age and energy in appearances at a rally and fundraisers since the debate.

The poll findings make it clear those concerns are significant.

When asked an open-ended question about why they thought one candidate or the other had prevailed, most cited either the strength or the weakness of their mental acuity.

Those with concerns about Biden used words like "confused" and "incoherent." They overwhelmingly said Trump won.

Others used words like "coherent/articulate" and "cognizant/present" as the reason they were supporting the 78-year-old former president.

Among those who said Biden won, the top reasons cited focused not on his performance but on his character, saying he was "truthful/honest" and that Trump had "lied" in his responses.

After the debate, the USA TODAY Fact Check Team identified some false claims made by Biden and many more by Trump.

Viewership was high: 46% of those surveyed said they watched the entire 90 minutes of the debate, and an additional 30% said they watched some of it. Republicans were somewhat more likely than Democrats or independents to have watched.

A desire for different candidates

Most Americans polled said they would like to have different choices on the ballot for both parties.

Overall, those surveyed by 54% to 37% say Biden should be replaced as the nominee. Nearly as many said that of Trump, by 51% to 46%.

But the partisan make-up of that dissatisfaction is different, underscoring the divisions among Democrats and the unity of Republicans.

  • Republicans by 84% to 14% want Trump to remain the GOP's nominee. What's more, 59% of Republicans said the debate made them more likely to support him.
  • In contrast, a bare majority of Democrats want Biden to remain as their nominee, 51% to 41%. Among Democrats, just 24% said the debate made them more likely to support him. Nine percent said it made them more likely to back a third-party candidate.

And independents?

Sixty-four percent want Biden replaced on the ballot, 63% want Trump replaced.

When asked about the impact of the debate, 26% of independents said it made them more likely to support Trump, 9% Biden, and 17% said it made them more likely to vote for a third-party candidate.

An additional 8% said it made them less likely to vote at all.

Joe Biden's core Democratic support takes big hit after debate, exclusive poll shows (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Msgr. Refugio Daniel

Last Updated:

Views: 5293

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (74 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Msgr. Refugio Daniel

Birthday: 1999-09-15

Address: 8416 Beatty Center, Derekfort, VA 72092-0500

Phone: +6838967160603

Job: Mining Executive

Hobby: Woodworking, Knitting, Fishing, Coffee roasting, Kayaking, Horseback riding, Kite flying

Introduction: My name is Msgr. Refugio Daniel, I am a fine, precious, encouraging, calm, glamorous, vivacious, friendly person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.