The Slatest

Almost 60 Percent of Biden Voters Say Support Is More Against Trump Than for Biden

Joe Biden speaks at a podium, Harris standing beside him
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris hold a news conference in Wilmington, Delaware, on Thursday. Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

Sunday came with good news from the polling front for former Vice President Joe Biden as he continues to hold a commanding lead in the presidential race and a majority approve of his choice for running mate. But in the middle of the good news for the presumptive Democratic nominee there was a stark reminder that Biden enjoys good numbers not necessarily because voters want him to be president but rather because they want President Donald Trump out of office. Overall, 58 percent of registered voters who said they would vote for Biden said that their vote was more “against” Trump than “for” the former vice president, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. That is a stark contrast from Trump voters, 74 percent of whom say their vote is “for” Trump and 20 percent of whom say it is “against” Biden.

That dynamic means that the Democratic and Republican candidates have sort of switched places from the last presidential election. “In one respect, Biden’s vote looks like Trump’s did in 2016: more a vote against their opponent than support for them,” Jeff Horwitt, a Democrat who worked on the poll, said. Trump supporters have long said this enthusiasm gap for Biden will be reflected in the turnout on Election Day. But Biden enjoys a 9-point advantage over Trump among registered voters nationally—50 percent to 41 percent. It’s a slight decline from the 11-point lead Biden enjoyed a month ago, but that is within the poll’s margin of error. And even though he continues to be seen more negatively than positively among the electorate at large, his positive rating increased 5 percentage points between July and August and is now at 39 percent. Sen. Kamala Harris enjoys a higher net personal rating than either Trump or Biden, as 39 percent of voters have a positive view of her, while 35 percent have a negative view.

Americans seem quite satisfied with the choice of Harris as Biden’s running mate. Overall, 54 percent of Americans say they approve of the pick, while 29 percent disapprove, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll. Around one in three—or 34 percent—say they strongly approve of the selection, while 22 percent strongly disapprove. Among Democrats the approval is a whopping 86 percent, while only 8 percent disapprove. Although the approval is obviously smaller among Republicans, still one in four approve of the choice, according to the poll.