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Dislike of the 2024 candidates is setting up a 2016-like election

Once
upon
a
time,
Americans
generally
liked
the
candidates
who
were
running
for
president.
It
seems
hard
to
believe
in
these
jaded
times,
but,
before
2016,

at
least
one
candidate

in

the
modern
era

was
viewed
positively
by
at
least
half
of
Americans.
Even
in
2020,
Joe
Biden
was

almost

there,
with
49
percent
approval
in
Gallup’s
last
poll
before
the
election.

It
is
now
2024,
and
that
is
very
much
not
the
case.

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of
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Gallup
recently
asked
Americans
how
they
felt
this
year’s
major-party
candidates
would
do
as
president

a
job,
you
do
not
need
to
be
reminded,
that
each
has
held.
About
3
in
10
respondents
said
they
thought
only
Biden
would
be
a
good
president.
About
a
third
said
the
same
of
Donald
Trump.
And
about
3
in
10
said
that
neither
would.

Unsurprisingly,
views
differed
by
party.
Democrats,
it
turns
out,
were
much
more
likely
to
say
that
only
Biden
would
be
a
good
president.
Republicans
were
more
likely
to
say
that
only
Trump
would.
But
big
chunks
of
each
party
said
that
neither
would
be

a
fifth
of
each
group,
in
fact.

A
plurality
of
independents
shared
that
sentiment,
with
4
in
10
telling
Gallup
that
they
didn’t
think
either
candidate
would
be
a
good
president.
This
is
not
terribly
surprising;
independents
often
center
their
political
decisions
heavily
on

what
they
don’t
like
.
But
it
is
nonetheless
important,
given
how

close
the
race
is
and
will
continue
to
be
,
as
well
as

the
determinative
effect

that
voters
who
disliked
both
Hillary
Clinton
and
Trump
had
on
the
2016
contest.
Take
out
Trump’s
advantage
with
those
voters
in
the
three
states
he
flipped
that
year,
and
Clinton
is
inaugurated
in
January
2017.

Polling
before
the
election,
though,
often
risks
overstating
the
size
of
the
“dislike
both”
population
in
the
electorate.
After
all,
if
you
dislike
both
presidential
candidates,
you
are
understandably
more
likely
to
simply
stay
home
in
November.

Gallup
asked
that,
too:
What
did
those
‘neither
would
be
good’
respondents

about
6
in
10
of
whom
were
independents

plan
to
do
when
Election
Day
came
around?

About
a
fifth
said
they
would
stay
home.
Nearly
half
said
they
would
vote
third
party.

This
is
what
happened
in
2016,
that
first
election
where
both
candidates
were
broadly
unpopular.
Turnout
was

up
only
slightly

relative
to
2012,
with
millions
of
voters
who
cast
ballots
for
Barack
Obama
in
the
previous
election

staying
home
.
In
that
election,
too,
an
unusually
large
number
of
voters
opted
for
third-party
candidates.

But,
of
course,
2016
and
2024
differ
in
other
important
ways.
For
one
thing,
early
polling
suggests
that
the
dislike-both-candidates
vote
is

more
favorable
to
Biden

than
it
turned
out
to
be
for
Clinton
eight
years
ago.
For
another,
many
people
who
plan
to
vote
for
Biden
this
year
are
doing
so

explicitly
in
opposition
to
Trump
,
which
was
a
less-prevalent
position
before
his
term
in
office.

Where
2024
and
2016
are
indisputably
similar,
though,
is
in
how
people
view
the
entire
contest.
Voters
are
being
asked,
yet
again,
to
pick
between
candidates
whom
many
don’t
particularly
like.
And,
as
happened
after
the
2016
and
2020
elections,
the
winning
candidate
will
take
office
and
quickly
have
his
job
performance
viewed
negatively
by
most
Americans.

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