Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Amid Doubts About Biden’s Mental Sharpness, Trump Leads Presidential Race

Roughly 6 in 10 voters describe both Biden and Trump as ‘embarrassing’

Roughly 6 in 10 voters describe both Biden and Trump as ‘embarrassing’

Former President Donald Trump was in Philadelphia for a campaign rally on June 22, roughly three weeks after President Joe Biden held one in the same city May 29. (From left: Anna Moneymaker and Andrew Harnik, both Getty Images)
How we did this

Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand Americans’ views of the 2024 presidential election campaign. For this analysis, we surveyed 9,424 adults – including 7,729 registered voters – from July 1-7, 2024. Everyone who took part in this survey is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), a group of people recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses who have agreed to take surveys regularly. This kind of recruitment gives nearly all U.S. adults a chance of selection. Surveys were conducted either online or by telephone with a live interviewer. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other factors. Read more about the ATP’s methodology.

Here are the questions used for this report, the topline and the survey methodology.

Following President Joe Biden’s poor performance in the June 27 debate, former President Donald Trump holds a 4 percentage point lead over Biden among registered voters: 44% say that if the election were held today, they would vote for Trump; 40% would vote for Biden, while 15% support third-party candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Chart shows Only about a quarter of voters say Biden is ‘mentally sharp’; nearly two-thirds describe Trump as ‘mean-spirited’

Voters’ doubts about Biden’s mental sharpness, while not new, have become the subject of intense focus following the debate.

Only about a quarter of voters (24%) say the phrase “mentally sharp” describes Biden very or fairly well; more than twice as many (58%) describe Trump as mentally sharp.

The share of voters describing Biden as mentally sharp has declined 6 points since January and is considerably lower than it was in 2020. 

The new survey by Pew Research Center, conducted July 1-7 among 9,424 adults, including 7,729 registered voters, finds that both Biden and Trump are widely viewed as flawed, though in different ways. And nearly seven-in-ten voters (68%) say they are not satisfied with their choices for president.

Among the survey’s major findings:

Most voters describe Trump as “mean-spirited.” Trump trails Biden on honesty and, by a narrower margin, on empathy. And about twice as many voters describe Trump as mean-spirited (64%) as say that about Biden (31%).

Majorities of voters describe both Biden and Trump as “embarrassing,” with identical shares (63% each) saying this about each candidate. A third or more of each candidate’s supporters – 37% of Biden supporters and 33% of Trump supporters – say their own candidate is embarrassing. (Read more about views of the candidates in Chapter 2.)

Chart shows Where the presidential race stands, four months before the election

The state of the 2024 presidential race: While Trump leads the presidential race, 44% to 40% over Biden, 17% say they support Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (15%) or another candidate (2%).

If the choices are narrowed to Biden and Trump, Trump would hold a slight edge: 50% favor Trump, while 47% support Biden.


Trump leads Biden among voters ages 50 and older by 48% to 39%, with 11% favoring Kennedy. Trump has a more modest edge among voters 30 to 49: 42% support Trump, while 37% back Biden and 19% favor Kennedy.

Biden holds a wide advantage over Trump among voters under 30 (48% to 28%). About one-in-five voters (22%) in the youngest age group say they back Kennedy.

Race and ethnicity

Trump has an advantage among White voters (50% to 36% for Biden), while Biden holds a wide lead over Trump among Black voters (64% to 13%, with 21% supporting Kennedy).

Biden and Trump are tied among Hispanic voters (36% each), while 24% support Kennedy. Biden has a wide lead over Trump among Asian voters (47% to 29%); 19% back Kennedy.

Partisanship and the 2020 vote

While both Biden and Trump draw support from large majorities of their own parties’ voters, Trump is currently holding on to more of his 2020 voters than Biden.

Nearly nine-in-ten validated voters (88%) who backed Trump four years ago support him today. That compares with 79% of Biden’s 2020 voters who currently support him. About one-in-seven (14%) of Biden’s voters four years ago prefer Kennedy today; among Trump’s 2020 voters, 8% say they’re voting for Kennedy. (Read more about voters’ preferences in Chapter 1.)

Related: Behind Biden’s victory: An examination of the 2020 electorate, based on validated voters.

Broad dissatisfaction with the 2024 campaign

Chart shows Voters are highly critical of the
presidential campaign

Pew Research Center surveys over the past year have found widespread unhappiness over the state of American politics and the choices for president. In the new survey, voters render harsh judgments on the 2024 campaign:

  • 87% say that so far, the campaign does not make them feel proud of the country
  • 76% say it is not focused on important policy debates
  • 68% describe the campaign as too negative.

Majorities of voters across demographic groups express dissatisfaction with the presidential candidates. However, Trump supporters are far more satisfied with their choices than are either Biden or Kennedy supporters.

About half of Trump supporters (51%) say they are very or fairly satisfied with the presidential candidates, while nearly as many (48%) say they are not too or not at all satisfied.

Roughly eight-in-ten Biden supporters (81%) and an even larger majority of Kennedy supporters (90%) express dissatisfaction with the candidates.

A growing share of Biden supporters would replace both Biden and Trump on the ballot

Chart shows Biden supporters have grown more likely to say they would replace both candidates if they could

Since April, there has been a modest uptick in the share of voters who say that if given the chance, they would replace both Biden and Trump on the ballot. Currently, 53% favor replacing Biden and Trump with different candidates, up from 49% in April.

This shift has come entirely among Biden supporters. In fact, Trump supporters are less likely to favor replacing both candidates than they were in April.

Currently, 71% of Biden supporters say that if they had the ability to decide the major party candidates for the 2024 election, they would replace both Biden and Trump. Roughly a quarter (23%) say they would keep Biden and replace Trump, while smaller shares would keep Trump and replace Biden (2%) or keep both candidates (3%).

In April, a smaller majority of Biden supporters (62%) favored replacing both Biden and Trump.

Among Trump supporters, by contrast, the share who would replace both candidates has declined, from 35% to 26%. The share who wants to keep both candidates on the ballot has risen from 27% to 39%.

Other findings: Voter engagement, candidates and issues, Trump’s conduct, Biden’s personal traits over time, job approval

Chart shows Kennedy supporters far less politically engaged than Biden, Trump supporters

Kennedy supporters are far less politically engaged than Biden or Trump supporters. Across several measures of election engagement – motivation to vote, a belief that the stakes in the election are important, attention to the campaign – there are no meaningful differences between Biden and Trump supporters.

But Kennedy supporters stand out for their low levels of engagement. For example, 39% say it really matters who wins, which is only about half the shares of Biden (79%) and Trump supporters (78%). And just 21% of Kennedy supporters say they are extremely motivated to vote; again, that is much lower than Biden or Trump supporters (63% each). (Read more about voters’ preferences in Chapter 1.)

Related: Third party and independent candidates often fall short of early polling numbers.

Trump holds wide leads on immigration, the economy and foreign policy. Trump holds double-digit advantages over Biden on all three issues. His lead on immigration policy is 17 points: 52% of voters are very or somewhat confident in Trump, while 35% are confident in Biden. Biden leads by 8 points on working well with officials in the opposing party (40% to 32%) and by 4 points on making good decisions on abortion policy (48% to 44%). (Read more about voters’ preferences on issues in Chapter 2.)

Just 30% of Trump’s supporters like the way he conducts himself. A majority of Trump supporters (55%) have mixed feelings about the way he conducts himself, while 15% don’t like his conduct. Biden supporters express much more positive views about their candidate’s conduct. Nearly six-in-ten (59%) like the way he conducts himself.

Chart shows Over the course of Biden’s term, steep decline in share of voters saying he is ‘mentally sharp’

Biden’s ratings decline for mental sharpness and remain consistent for honesty. Only about half as many voters describe Biden as mentally sharp today (24%) as did so in October 2020 (46%), during the final month of that campaign. His ratings for mental sharpness have declined throughout his presidency. In April 2023, a third of voters said he was mentally sharp.

Trump’s ratings for mental sharpness are higher today than they were in 2020 (58% now, 50% then). By contrast, Biden’s rating on honesty – currently 48% – is identical to his rating in 2020. The share describing Trump as honest also is little changed (36% now, 36% then).

Biden’s job approval among the general public: Roughly a third of Americans (32%) approve of Biden’s job performance. His job rating has fluctuated modestly over the course of this year. The current measure is 3 points lower than in April and roughly the same as in January (33%). Since April, Biden’s job rating has declined 4 points among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (from 65% to 61%). Just 5% of Republicans and Republican leaners approve, which is little changed over the past year. (Read more about Biden’s job approval and views of the Republican and Democratic parties in Chapter 5.)

Icon for promotion number 1

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Fresh data delivery Saturday mornings

Icon for promotion number 1

Sign up for The Briefing

Weekly updates on the world of news & information