Home National news Approval for Biden, Lee (and for 2024 Trump presidential run) drops as voter malaise simmers

Approval for Biden, Lee (and for 2024 Trump presidential run) drops as voter malaise simmers

by PRIDE Newsdesk

(l-r) Support for President Joe Biden and Gov. Bill Lee has dropped among registered voters.

In a sign that malaise over rising inflation and stressors related to pandemic recovery could be influencing Tennesseans’ attitudes toward elected leaders, support for President Joe Biden and Gov. Bill Lee has dropped among registered voters, according to the most recent statewide Vanderbilt University Poll. 

Poll co-directors John Geer; Ginny and Conner Searcy, dean of the College of Arts and Science and professor of political science; Josh Clinton Abby; and Jon Winkelried, professor of political science, say the new findings align with a national trend of waning support for Biden, even among Democrats and independent voters. Tennessee voters also are less inclined to see the merit of another presidential run by Donald Trump. 

“There’s a general dissatisfaction with the direction of the country right now, and we pick that up in a lot of different ways—whether it be in the national poll or in how people are viewing local leaders,” Geer said. “One of the themes our latest poll shows is that here in Tennessee, there is a declining appetite to have a replay of the 2020 presidential election in 2024.” 

Among Democrats, 79% of those polled said they approve of Biden’s performance, while last year 92% voiced support for him. Only 31% of all those polled approved of Biden’s performance (down from 39% last year around this time) and a mere 25% said they hope Biden runs for reelection. 

And just 38% of those polled said they want Trump to run for U.S. president in 2024, a drop from 44% in December 2021. While Republicans are much more supportive of a 2024 Trump campaign than Democrats, they, too, showed declining interest—68% supported the idea, down 11 points from December 2021. 

While Tennessee voters are largely unhappy with the nation’s leadership, Gov. Bill Lee remains popular with constituents, despite a slight drop in his approval rating. Lee earned a 56% approval from those polled, down from last year’s level of support but similar to results from December 2021.  When breaking down attitudes by party, 80% of Republicans said they’d re-elect Lee compared with only seven percent of Democrats. 

Tennesseans also see a U.S. economy increasingly in trouble. Only 27% believe the U.S. economy is in good shape, down significantly from 47% of those polled last year who said the economy was ‘very good’ or ‘fairly good.’ 

Tennesseans offer a more favorable assessment, though, of the state’s economy, with 64% responding the economy is ‘very good’ or ‘fairly good’ right now. 

The latest poll asked voters some new questions about criminal justice reform.  

Seventy percent of registered voters in Tennessee think that the criminal justice reform either needs ‘a complete overhaul’ or ‘major changes,’ nationally and in Tennessee. 

While Democrats are slightly more likely to hold these beliefs (82%), a majority of Republicans (63%) also express a strong desire for criminal justice reform. 

Furthermore, 72% of those surveyed say they support the use of taxpayer dollars for rehabilitation programs such as mental health care or addiction treatment for people convicted of crimes. Support for rehabilitation is strongest among Democrats (84%) and independents (77%), but 58% of Republicans also support the increased use of taxpayer funds to address mental health and drug addiction problems among those convicted of crimes. 

Abortion is at the forefront of national conversation as a draft Supreme Court opinion leaked that suggests the conservative majority may overturn a court case that ruled that people have a constitutional right to obtain an abortion. 

The draft majority opinion, written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, attacks the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision as incorrectly decided. A final opinion is expected to be published in late June. 

Among Tennesseans surveyed, 48% identified as pro-choice, and 50% identified as pro-life. Overall, 36% of respondents said abortion should be legal in all cases. Seventy percent of Democrats polled favored abortion being legal, while only eight percent of Republicans prefer pro-choice legislation. 

Overall, while there is a strong partisan divide on this issue, only a minority of Tennesseans, including Republicans, want to make all abortion illegal. There is strong support (80% of respondents) for having abortion be either completely legal or legal under some conditions, such as in cases of rape and incest and when the health of the mother is at stake. 

Some areas of the poll showed polarization between parties. Others found Tennesseans unified across several issues. More findings include: 

  • Causes of polarization: Political parties appear to agree that social media is one of the root causes of the nation’s current divide.
  • Banned books: 65% of Republicans say that public schools should have a committee of parents and community members to review and remove books they find offensive. Only 25% of Democrats say that is appropriate.
  • Fear of COVID: Tennesseans’ fear of COVID is declining.
  • Scientific discovery: 47% of Tennesseans say they support state and federal governments supporting scientific discovery. Factoring in people who support ‘a moderate amount of scientific discovery,’ the number rises to 75%.
  • Health care: Nearly two-thirds of the public opposes restricting access to health care for trans-gendered citizens. By contrast, Tennesseans strongly favor that students be required to play on school athletic teams that match their gender at the time of birth.

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