45% of Democrat Voters
Say Biden Should Not Run

Voters Report Feeling ‘Disgust’ and ‘Fear’ Toward Both Biden and Trump

Click to watch video analysis of the poll with PolCom Lab researchers Luzmarina Garcia and Kevin Wagner

July 3, 2024

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A new poll conducted by Florida Atlantic University’s Political Communication and Public Opinion Research Lab (PolCom Lab) and Mainstreet Research USA examines the state of the presidential election as reverberations of last week’s debate continue to play out. The survey also asked voters about their opinions on fireworks, a traditional centerpiece of this week’s pending Fourth of July celebration.

Democrats Divided on Biden’s Candidacy

The survey reveals a split within the Democratic party regarding U.S. President Joe Biden’s candidacy, with 40% supporting Biden as the nominee and 45% thinking he should be replaced with another Democrat. Among those preferring a replacement, 25% favor U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and 21% support former First Lady Michelle Obama.

“These results suggest a significant portion of Democrats are open to exploring alternative candidates,” said Kevin Wagner, Ph.D, co-director of FAU’s PolCom Lab and professor of political science.

Trump Narrowly Leads Biden, but Lead Increases with Third-party Candidate

In a head-to-head matchup among all voters, Biden (42%) trails former U.S. President Donald Trump (44%) with still 6% of voters undecided. With Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in the race as a third-party candidate, Biden falls slightly more (37%) than Donald Trump (41%), and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. earns 11% voter support.

“The inclusion of a third-party candidate appears to favor Trump, potentially pulling slightly more support away from Biden than Trump nationwide,” said Dukhong Kim, Ph.D., associate professor of political science at FAU and a PolCom Lab affiliate.

Emotional Aftermath of the June 27 Debate

Following the presidential debate on June 27, voters were asked how they felt about the candidates and the debate, one that has been labeled historically negative. Voters responded the following ways about Biden: 24% disgust; 22% sadness; 13% fear; and 11% pride. Democrats listed sadness as the No. 1 sentiment at 24.2% followed by pride with 19.6%. When asking Republicans about Biden, 38.3% felt disgust and 19.1% reported that they felt sadness. When Independents chimed in about their feelings on Biden, 28.1% said they felt disgust and 24.2% said they felt sadness.

About Trump, voters reported that they felt the following ways: 27% disgust; 22% joy; 18% pride; 11% fear; 11% anger; and 5% sadness. Among Republicans, 39.2% reported they felt joy or happiness, followed by 36.7% reporting that they felt pride. Among Democrats, 47% reported that they felt disgust, 17.6% reported that they felt fear, and 17.2% reported that they felt anger. Independents reported that they felt joy or happiness (23.2%) and disgust (26.1%) toward Trump. White college-educated respondents and Black respondents had high response rates of disgust toward Trump with 32.8% and 35.5%, respectively.

“Overall, there are overlapping emotions that respondents felt in the aftermath of the debate,” said Luzmarina Garcia, Ph.D.,assistant professor of political science at FAU and PolCom Lab-affiliated researcher. “Disgust was a particularly pronounced emotion toward both candidates, while sadness was a common response toward Joe Biden and pride was a common emotion toward Donald Trump. Interestingly, non-voters in the last general election and Independents mainly expressed disgust following the debate.”

About the debate itself, voters reported a wide emotional range, including sadness (19%), disgust (17%), fear (17%), and joy (13%). Approximately 20% of respondents reported that they didn’t know how they felt about the debate.

“Measuring emotion in terms of how people view our leaders and our system of governance is vital not just for candidates and elected officials who shape policy and approach, but to gauge how we are as a society,” said Robert E. Gutsche, Jr., Ph.D., associate professor in digital cultures and strategy lead for the PolCom Lab. “Our previous work on happiness and politics shows that these moments shape our overarching views on our democracy just as much as those who we select to speak for us.”

Fireworks an Explosive Issue for Many Voters

As the Fourth of July holiday approaches and many Americans celebrate with fireworks, the poll asked, “Would you support stricter regulations or bans on the sale and use of consumer fireworks in your area to reduce the noise and the stress they cause for people and pets?”

To this:

  • 27% reported that fireworks should not be allowed
  • 27% reported that fireworks should be restricted to certain hours
  • 5% reported that fireworks should have no restrictions

The use of fireworks has a partisan difference as well. Nearly 63% of Democrats favor banning or restricting their use in neighborhoods. Almost one-third of Republicans favor no restrictions or trust people to use fireworks responsibly.

“Fireworks are a long-standing tradition for celebrations across the world, but here in the U.S. they are ubiquitous to American patriotism,” Gutsche said. “Walking around neighborhoods and across communities during Fourth of July, there is always some feeling or discussion of apprehension about fireworks and their possible effects on animals and children, for example. I’m not sure that means society is ready to ban them, though.”

The poll was conducted with both English and Spanish options from Saturday, June 29 to Sunday June 30 among a sample of 961 registered voters, living in the U.S. A likely voter screen was also used. The survey was conducted via interactive voice response and an online panel was used to complete the survey. The survey is intended to represent the voting population in the U.S. Weights are applied for gender, race, education and past vote. Party identification is determined by asking which party each respondent most identifies with, as some states do not have voter registration by party. Since the poll was partially completed online, a margin of error cannot be assigned to the poll, but a poll of this size would have a margin of error of +/- 3.2% at the 95% confidence level. The margins of error are higher in each subsample. For full methodologies, visit www.faupolling.com/about.

*This report has been updated related to the section Democrats Divided on Biden’s Candidacy.