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US voter interest sinks to historic low – poll

Enthusiasm has waned heading into the 2024 presidential election as majorities of Americans dislike both major-party candidates

A voter casts his ballot last month in New York’s primary election. ©  Selçuk Acar/Anadolu via Getty Images

Americans are losing interest in this year’s US presidential election as both Democrat incumbent Joe Biden and Republican challenger Donald Trump alienate voters, a new NBC News poll has shown.

The survey, released on Sunday, found that just 64% of US voters are “very interested” in the November election, compared with 77% at this point in the 2020 presidential race. Never before have NBC pollsters recorded lower voter interest at a point this late in an election cycle. Only 59% of voters were “very interested” in the upcoming election in March 2012, but the figure ticked up to 67% as the race heated up the following month.

The historic lack of voter enthusiasm apparently reflects largely negative views about both major-party candidates. Only 38% of US voters hold a positive view of Biden, the NBC poll showed. The same percentage of voters – presumably a different swath of the electorate – have positive feelings about Trump.

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“Americans don’t agree on much these days, but nothing unites the country more than voters’ desire to tune this election out,” said Democrat pollster Jeff Horwitt, who helped conduct the NBC survey.

The poll results suggest that voter turnout will be relatively low in November, especially among young people, Republican pollster Bill McInturff said. Only 36% of voters under the age of 35 have a high level of interest in this year’s election. While 70% of Republicans and 65% of Democrats are very interested in the Biden-Trump rematch, just 48% of independents share their enthusiasm.

The poll showed that Trump leads Biden by a margin of 46% to 44% in a hypothetical one-on-one contest. When third-party candidates are included, Biden leads Trump 39-37. That’s because Trump loses far more voters who would otherwise vote for him if the only other choice were Biden.

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NBC said 13% of voters favor independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Although Kennedy is a lifelong Democrat – his father was a Democrat presidential candidate, and his uncle was President John F. Kennedy Jr. – he’s viewed far more favorably by Republicans. While 40% of Republican voters have a positive view of Kennedy, just 16% of Democrats like him, the poll showed.

Biden’s approval rating has risen by five percentage points, to 42%, since January, NBC said. However, McInturff noted that the incumbent’s rating is still lower at this point in the cycle than either of the two recent presidents who lost their reelection bids. Trump had a 46% approval rating at this point in 2020, he said, and George H.W. Bush had a 43% rating in April 1992.

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