Biden now leads Trump by the largest margin in the last 6 months

As President Biden’s approval rating continues to rebound from summer lows, a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll now shows him leading former President Donald Trump in a 2024 rematch by the widest margin since March.

The survey of 1,634 U.S. adults was conducted from Sept. 2 to Sept. 6 — right after a combative primetime speech last Thursday in which Biden blasted “Trump and the MAGA Republicans” as “extremists” who “threaten[en] the very foundations of our democracy.”

The poll found that if the next presidential election were “held today,” 48 percent of registered voters would choose Biden, while 42 percent would choose Trump. Biden’s new 6-point lead is 3 points larger than his lead in the previous Yahoo News/YouGov poll from late August (Biden 45%, Trump 42%) and 4 points better than his average lead across all Yahoo News polls /YouGov conducted between April and July (Biden 44%, Trump 42%). The poll’s margin of error is about 2.6%.

President Biden during a Cabinet meeting at the White House on Tuesday. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The last time Biden led Trump in a Yahoo News/YouGov poll by 6 percentage points or more among registered voters was in March 2022 (Biden 47% to Trump 39%). The previous time was in May 2021 (Biden 48% vs. Trump 39%). Notably, Biden’s support today (48%) matches those previous highs.

None of this means that Biden is a lock to beat Trump in 2024. The election is still years away, and Trump won in 2016 despite losing the national popular vote (largely because Republican voters tend to live in rural states that are overrepresented in the Electoral College). Meanwhile, more Americans still disapprove than approve of Biden’s performance in office.

But the president’s improved numbers against his former (and possibly future) opponent represent a modest sign that he is recovering from a prolonged summer slump. Possible reasons for its growing popularity include falling gas prices and the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which will reduce the cost of prescription drugs, electric vehicles and solar panels, among other provisions.

Predictably, Biden’s gains have been concentrated on the left, while Republicans remain almost unanimously opposed to him. Among all Americans, the president’s approval rating now stands at 40% approval (unchanged from late August) to 52% disapproval (down from 53% in late August). Among registered voters, Biden’s numbers are 43% and 53%, respectively.

A man stands at a table as he fills out his ballot.

A voter fills out their ballot at an early voting location in a town hall. (Craig F. Walker/the Boston Globe via Getty Images)

That’s the president’s best performance since May — and it comes as his approval rating rose 7 points among Democrats (to 79%) and 6 points among independents (to 32%) over the past month.

At the same time, more Democrats now say America is “generally headed in the right direction” (48%) than “in the wrong direction” (38%). In early August, those numbers reversed.

As a result, Biden strengthened his position for 2024, which looked unusually weak for an incumbent. While in early August Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents preferred “someone else” over Biden as the Democratic nominee by a margin of 55% to 27%, the number now saying they prefer Biden is up 8 points, to 35%, and the number who say they prefer someone else is down 13 points, to 42%.

Among Democrats alone, Biden has gained even more ground. He now leads “someone else” by 4 points here (41% to 37%). A month ago, it was down 29% to 52%. Likewise, Democrats now say by a 14-point margin that Biden should run again in 2024 (44% yes, 30% no). In early August, more Democrats said they shouldn’t (43%) than said they should (35%). Over the same period, the percentage of Democrats who believe the president is “up to the challenges facing the US” increased by 10 points (to 64%).

Trump has made his own gains recently — in large part because Republicans seem to have rallied around him after the FBI’s Aug. 8 Mar-a-Lago investigation. A full 55% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents now prefer Trump to “someone else” for the 2024 GOP nomination, up from 54% in the previous Yahoo News/YouGov poll and 47% in early August.

Former President Donald Trump stands at the podium as he speaks during a rally.

Former President Donald Trump at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Sept. 3. (Michelle Gustafson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

But there are also signs of vulnerability for Trump as new revelations continue to emerge about his handling of highly classified documents. Fewer than half of Republicans and GOP politicians now prefer Trump (48%) over Florida Gov. Ron DeSandis (34%). A growing number of independents — 39 percent, up 7 points from two weeks ago — think Trump would be a weaker candidate in 2024 than in 2020. And a full 55 percent of Americans say the former president he should be barred from serving again in the future if he is found guilty of “mishandling highly classified documents” or “obstructing” an ongoing Justice Department investigation. Just a quarter of Americans say Trump should be allowed to serve again in that scenario.

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The Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,634 US adults interviewed online between September 2 and September 6, 2022. This sample was weighted by gender, age, race and education with based on the American Community Survey. conducted by the US Census Bureau, as well as the 2020 presidential vote (or non-vote) and voter registration status. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s participation panel to be representative of all US adults. The margin of error is about 2.6%.

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