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Analysis

Trump? Biden? Americans appear to want to choose ‘none of the above’ in 2024.

Trump and Biden facing off during their first presidential debate in September 2020. The moderator of the chaotic event was Chris Wallace.Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

A New York Times/Siena College poll released Monday put a finer point on what a number of earlier polls have been hinting at: Americans appear to be saying the last thing they want is a rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump in the 2024 election.

That’s despite the fact that a rematch appears to be the most probable scenario.

Various reporting on Trump’s world suggests that the former president could launch a third presidential campaign as early as this month. If he does, that might trigger Biden to run, believing he is the only politician in America who can beat Trump, having done it before.

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Should that happen many Americans may be dissatisfied, if the Times/Siena poll is correct. The nationwide poll found that only 33 percent of Americans approved of Biden’s performance in his job. His approval ratings were low in every category and on essentially every topic, but especially the economy.

When you average recent polls, Biden is now the least popular president in modern American history. Even Jimmy Carter was doing better during the same week of his presidency.

The poll found a large proportion of Democrats are ready to dump Biden and find another person to run. Indeed, only 24 percent of Democrats said they wanted Biden to be the nominee again. They cited his age – he is the oldest person ever elected president – and his job performance as the main reasons.

But for all of Biden’s perceived flaws, voters apparently still believe Trump would be worse. The Times/Sienna poll found Biden winning a rematch 44 percent to 41 percent.

The poll didn’t ask Republicans whether Trump should be the nominee. But it is fair to say that while most Republicans aren’t “there” on dumping Trump, his support is slipping. The poll found that only 85 percent of Republicans would vote for Trump in 2024 versus Biden, down a good 10 points in the last two years. (For comparison, while Democrats have soured on Biden’s performance, 93 percent said they would back him if Trump was his opponent.)

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In an interesting twist, a University of New Hampshire poll has found Florida Governor Ron DeSantis led Trump among likely Republican voters in the Granite State, which will hold the nation’s first Republican presidential primary.

The Times/Siena and the University of New Hampshire polls underscore what could be a new narrative among Trump critics: that even if Republicans love Trump, he doesn’t give them the best chance of winning. Indeed, “anybody but Trump could win” is a line that might soon prove to be true, especially if Biden seeks re-election.

None of this should be a big surprise. The number of people who say the nation is on the right track is at its lowest point since the 2008 recession began, according to the Times/Siena poll.

It’s a rare occurrence for a president who lost reelection to seek a rematch. Voters appear to think both have had a shot and now it’s time for something different.




James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell and on Instagram @jameswpindell.