Two-Party Vote Share Declines Amid Talk of Independent Candidates
Donald Trump continues to hold a slight lead over Joe Biden in a hypothetical rematch for 2024, according to the latest national survey conducted by BIG DATA POLL for October. However, the impact of independent candidates Robert Kennedy Jr. and Cornel West is not as cut and dry as some have predicted.
In a two-way general election rematch, the former president leads the current president by roughly two points, 40.7% to 39.0%. The percentage choosing “someone else” (13.0%) and undecided (7.3%) rose roughly 3 points and 1 point, respectively. Until news of independent bids for president, both appeared to be trending down over the course of the year.
Trump’s Lead Over Biden Shrinks With RFK in the Race, Widens With RFK and West
With Kennedy in the race and a generic third party candidate, the race tightens slightly even though the two-party candidates’ vote shares both decline, when rounded. With both Kennedy and West, Trump’s vote share remains unchanged while Biden’s falls another point, giving the former president a 3-point lead.
“On the surface, it would appear RFK draws more support from Democrats than Republicans and from independent voters who lean Democratic more than independents who lean Republican,” BIG DATA POLL Director Rich Baris said. “But it’s not that simple, especially considering presidencies are won and lost in the Electoral College, not the Popular Vote.”
“When we dig deeper Inside The Numbers™—and yes, pun intended—it’s clear Kennedy draws support from more Trump-friendly demographics than not, to include by race, ideology, education, income, area and region.”
Despite the Kennedy name and RFK being from the Northeast, the region represents his smallest vote share at 7.2% without West on the ballot. He draws his largest share of support from the South (9.5%), followed by the Midwest (9.3%) and West (9.2%). The result is a net loss in support for Trump.
By education, his largest vote share is drawn from voters with a high school degree or less at 11.6%, with 9.0% of the largest single voting bloc by education (Some/Associate) going to Kennedy. Those two groups are also Trump’s strongest. In terms of raw vote by ideology, RFK receives twice the number of votes from self-described conservatives than liberals, though as a percentage he draws 12.6% and 11.1%, respectively.
Joe Biden’s Approval Rating Largely Unchanged
Biden’s approval rating was largely unchanged in October from the end of the summer, but remains underwater with a double-digit negative spread at -10.1%. Though the 43.6% who approve of the job the president is doing is essentially unchanged from the prior reading of 43.7%, and his disapproval ticked down marginally from 54.5% to 53.7%, the intensity is negative.
The percentage of voters who strongly disapprove of the president (40.1%) is more than double the percentage of those who strongly approve (19.4%). That gives the president an intensity index of -20.7%.
Direction of Country Outlook Worsens Somewhat
The percentage of voters claiming the country is headed in the right direction fell from 27.4% to 25.2% , just outside the survey sampling error. Meanwhile, the percentage saying the country is on the wrong track rose marginally from 63.7% to 65.4%, resulting in a negative spread widening further from -36.3% to -40.2%.
The record high negative spread of -47.3% was measured in May 2022, also the month a record high 70.1% said the country was on the wrong track. However, the record low 22.3% for those saying the country was headed in the right direction was measured one year ago almost to the day in October 2022.
BIG DATA POLL interviewed 2,181 registered voters nationwide from October 6-8, 2023 via mixed-mode to include 2,086 likely voters screened by self-reported likelihood to vote and vote history. Interviews conducted online are sourced through Lucid (CINT) and phone interviews including P2P SMS and text-to-online are sourced from the Aristotle National Voter File Database. Likely primary voters were further screened for eligibility by registration and intent based on open and closed primary systems by state. Results were weighted for gender, age, race and ethnicity, education and income, geography and region. The overall sampling error is +/- 2.1% at a 95% confidence interval. The sampling errors for the Republican and Democratic Presidential Nominations are +/- 3.1% and +/- 3.1% at a 95% confidence interval, respectively. It is important to note that sampling errors for subgroups are higher. All BIG DATA POLL publicly conducted surveys are crowdfunded via the Public Polling Project, supplemented if necessary by BIG DATA POLL and are NOT funded by or affiliated with any candidate, campaign, committee, or political entity. Full and interactive crosstabs can be viewed on MarketSight.