Biden’s popularity outstrips Hillary’s

Several new polls confirm a hidden asset for Joe Biden. But first, a snapshot of the race at this time. In the Real Clear Polling average, Biden leads Donald Trump by 10 points, and in many new swing state polls, the former vice president is ahead of the president, too. Biden is more popular personally than Trump. In the June 17-18 Harvard Center for American Politics/Harris online poll, 47 percent had a very favorable or favorable view of Biden, and 44 percent an unfavorable or very unfavorable view. Compare that to Donald Trump’s numbers: 39 percent favorable, 57 percent unfavorable. In the poll, 28 percent had a very unfavorable view of Biden, and 45 percent gave that response about Trump. 

Joe Biden speaks at event while serving as Vice President of the United States. As presumptive Democratic nominee, Biden has proposed to not raise taxes for anyone making less than $400,000.
Joe Biden speaks at event while serving as Vice President of the United States. As presumptive Democratic nominee, Biden has proposed to not raise taxes for anyone making less than $400,000. Via Reuters

One of the things that may be boosting Biden’s overall standing in the match-ups now is the simple fact that he’s not Hillary Clinton. In the final months of the 2016 campaign, Clinton and Trump had similarly high unfavorable ratings. While Hillary Clinton also led in trial heats at this point in the 2016 cycle, Biden’s lead is larger. And on Election Day, 43 percent of voters in the national exit poll had a favorable opinion of her, and 55 percent an unfavorable one. For Trump, those responses were 38 and 60 percent, respectively.

Nothing has changed since
Election Day, and both are still viewed very negatively. In the same new Harvard/Harris
poll, only 37 percent had a favorable view of Hillary, and 56 percent had an
unfavorable one.

In the Harvard Center for
American Politics poll, 61 percent said they disliked Trump personally. That
response has been at 55 percent or higher in all 19 of their polls since
December 2018. If senior voters are moving away from the president and boosting
Biden as many recent polls have suggested, one reason may be the likeability
gap.

Likeability matters. It’s not everything, of course, and Joe Biden has weaknesses. But the 2020 contest is not a race between two people with similar high negative ratings, and that may matter to the public in November — it certainly could help explain Biden’s lead in the polls.

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