It’s not just that Democratic and Republican voters disagree on who the next president should be. A new USA TODAY/Ipsos poll reveals that they also have different views on crucial features to get the job done.
Democratic voters say they want above all a unifier who will focus on bringing the country together and finding compromise, while Republican voters above all appreciate a fighter who will fight in the name of “the freedom and dignity of all Americans”.
Supporters on both sides want this: a candidate who can win.
Chris Hastings, 80, a conservative retiree from Hoover, Alabama, who was among those interviewed, wants a candidate “strong enough to fight the media,” a quality he sees in former President Donald Trump and the governor of Florida Ron DeSantis. “I can’t stand mealy-mouthed Republicans getting pushed around,” he said.
Talina Tantall, 54, a stay-at-home mom and Democrat from Buckley, Michigan, has other traits in mind. “Someone who truly cares about others, is not out for their own political gain or their own monetary gain,” she said. She wants a president who understands “what’s going on with ordinary people – you know, the struggles, the worries, the conflicts.”
As the maneuvers begin for the 2024 election, the survey reveals a political landscape shaped by a familiar partisan divide. Differing views on how presidents should act and what issues they should focus on complicate efforts to solve the nation’s most pressing problems, or even to agree on what they are.
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Asked to rank nine traits according to their importance in the next presidential candidate, Democrats put “bringing the country together” at the top; Republicans rank this feature in the middle of the list, number four. Republicans place less importance on having “strong political knowledge and expertise” than Democrats.
The two rank second in “fighting for the people they represent.”
“Republican voters in this poll are telling us they clearly want a fighter in 2024, and they see Trump as their champion,” Ipsos Chairman Cliff Young said. “On the other hand, Democrats want someone who is both a fighter and a unifier. Now (President Joe) Biden is failing to achieve those two dueling ideals.
The online poll of 2,345 adults, conducted Aug. 18-22, has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.
Time for a younger generation?
Most Republican voters think they already have the right candidate for 2024. Fifty-nine percent say Trump should be the candidate; only 41% say it’s time to change the GOP.
That said, several Trump supporters in follow-up interviews expressed reservations about the former president’s age and personality. “He did things that I liked,” said Tyler Geyer, 35, a mail carrier from Kenna, West Virginia. For 2024, however, “I would like someone from a younger generation to run the country and someone who might not be so pompous.” He mentioned DeSantis and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.
Democratic voters are more eager for a change of party and a new face for the 2024 race. In the poll, 44% of them say Biden “deserves to be re-elected” while 56% say that ‘he shouldn’t run again.
“In a way, I think he’s doing the best he can with the mess that Trump left behind,” said Aaron Shissler, 36, a left-leaning independent from Pocatello, Idaho. “But in other ways, I just don’t think he does enough. I think he takes a lot of half measures.”
If Biden did run, “it would create a definite risk of a Republican victory,” he said.
Biden is recognized by Democratic voters for having significant government experience (92%), for having major political knowledge and expertise (86%) and for being focused on uniting the country (85%). But one of his lowest scores was being an effective communicator and activist (65%). Only sixty percent predict he could win the 2024 election.
Women are more pessimistic than men about Biden’s prospects, and younger voters are more pessimistic than older ones. Among Democratic voters under 35, a mere 53% say he could be re-elected.
In contrast, an overwhelming 82% of Republicans predict that Trump could win the next election.
Nine in 10 Republican voters rate Trump as a leader who “is willing to use every tool at his disposal to get things done”; 87% say he fights for the people he represents; 86% say he fights against “woke corporations and canceled culture”. One of his lowest ratings was being “focused on bringing the country closer together and finding compromise” (70%).
A division on the main problems of the nation
The biggest problem facing the country today?
Republican voters say it’s inflation, followed by immigration. Democratic voters say it’s gun violence, followed by climate change. Indeed, of the top five issues for voters of each party, the only ones cited by both are inflation and this one: political extremism or polarization.
“I hope these days (Republicans) come together as a party with the Democrats,” said Tantall, the stay-at-home mom from Michigan. “I keep saying this to all my friends and family: these people, I feel like they’ve forgotten who they work for – ‘We the people, by the people, for the people .’ And I feel like it got lost somewhere.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Presidential Election 2024: Do Voters Want Trump, Biden or a New Face?