PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Less than half of likely Democratic primary voters in Rhode Island want President Joe Biden to run for a second term in 2024, an exclusive 12 News/Roger Williams University poll released Tuesday shows.
The survey of 400 likely primary voters finds only 40% think Biden should run for re-election in two years, while 41% think someone else should be the Democratic nominee. The other 17% aren’t sure.
The limited support for a second Biden campaign is striking considering the poll surveyed a Democratic-leaning electorate in a blue state. Biden received 59% of the vote in Rhode Island in the 2020 election, while then-President Donald Trump took only 39%.
“You would expect Joe Biden to do well with this group – no question about that,” said 12 News political analyst Joe Fleming, who conducted the poll. “I was a little surprised with these results.”
Fleming suggested support for the president running again ought to be at 60% or higher among the Democrats and independents who cast ballots in Democratic primaries.
“If I’m Joe Biden, these are not the numbers I’m looking for,” he said.
The cellphone and landline interview poll was conducted Monday, May 9, through Thursday, May 12, by Fleming & Associates of Cumberland, R.I. The survey has an overall margin of sampling error of plus or minus approximately 4.9 percentage points. Fleming has been conducting polls for WPRI 12 since 1984.
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Biden, who turns 80 in November, was the oldest American ever to take the oath of office when he was sworn in last year. That fact has helped fuel speculation Biden might not seek a second term, though the White House has insisted he plans to run.
Fleming noted independent voters made up about one-third of respondents in the 12 News/RWU survey, and 54% of them said they would prefer a different Democratic nominee in 2024.
“They may think Joe Biden — some people might think he’s too old,” he said. “They want to see a change in there, [or] they feel the best way to keep the White House would be to have another nominee up there.”
The poll isn’t all bad news for Biden. It shows 60% of likely Democratic primary voters say he is doing an excellent or good job as president, versus 37% who think he is doing a just fair or poor job. And 46% of self-identified Democrats in the poll want him to run again.
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Fleming said the gap in the poll between Biden’s 60% job approval and 40% support for a re-election bid indicates voters who’d prefer a different Democratic nominee aren’t necessarily hostile toward president.
“These people are not saying, ‘I will not vote for Joe Biden.’ Most of these people would probably still vote for Joe Biden,” he said. “But they’re saying, ‘Let’s give somebody else an opportunity to run for president.'”
There has been no lack of speculation about which Democrats might run should Biden retire after one term.
The names floated most frequently include Vice President Kamala Harris, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. Some have even suggested that Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo — Rhode Island’s former governor — should consider seeking the White House.
Ted Nesi (email@example.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook