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New UMass Amherst Poll Finds 2024 Presidential Election ‘Fast Becoming the Sequel that No One Asked for’

More than half of its respondents would prefer that neither Biden nor Trump run for president, but the new survey only finds a slim chance of a Haley nomination as nearly three-quarters of the respondents fear violence associated with the election

Topline results and crosstabs for the poll can be found at

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AMHERST, Mass. – A new national University of Massachusetts Amherst Poll has found that although there is a “malaise” among voters looking at a likely rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, there is also little likelihood of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley creating a surprise matchup against the incumbent Biden in this year’s election.

The poll of 1,064 respondents conducted Jan. 25-30 found that 53% of those surveyed and 29% of Republicans say it would have been better if Trump did not run for president in 2024, while 57% of respondents and 37% of Democrats say it would have been better if Biden had not sought re-election. And although Biden has no true competition for the Democratic nomination, Haley has generated conversation recently following closer-than-expected results in New Hampshire and Iowa, though the new poll shows that she faces a difficult path to overtake Trump in securing the GOP nomination.

Tatishe Nteta
Tatishe Nteta

“In what is fast becoming the sequel that no one asked for, former President Donald Trump is set to square off against President Joe Biden this fall in a rematch of the 2020 presidential election,” says Tatishe Nteta, provost professor of political science at UMass Amherst and director of the poll. “Trump holds a commanding 38 percentage point lead over Haley and is the preference of most demographic and political groups in the Republican electorate. Haley has an uphill battle in front of her if she wants to become the party’s nominee and with the specter of losing her home state of South Carolina to Trump on the horizon, we may be in the final weeks of the Haley campaign.”

When the final contest is set, Nteta and his colleagues see little enthusiasm – but a lot of fear – among the electorate looking ahead to November.

“With memories of a historically negative campaign, months of former President Trump refusing to concede the election, and the violent insurrection of Jan. 6 still fresh in the memories of Americans, it is not surprising that only 29% of Americans view this matchup as a good thing while a plurality (45%) of citizens believe this potential contest to be bad for the nation,” Nteta says. “Whether these negative views of the participants will lead to lower interest and turnout is still to be seen but given our current polarized environment, our results suggest that large numbers of voters may be holding their nose when voting for their preferred candidate.”

jesse rhodes
Jesse Rhodes

“Americans are going into the 2024 presidential election with bad feelings,” says Jesse Rhodes, professor of political science at UMass Amherst and co-director of the poll. “More than half would prefer that neither Biden nor Trump ran for president and about half would be disappointed if either Biden or Trump won. The big reason for this malaise is that 63% of Americans view both Biden and Trump as old and 48% say they are out of touch with the issues facing the country today.”

“The race between Trump and Biden is a statistical dead heat at this point,” Raymond La Raja, professor of political science at UMass Amherst and co-director of the poll says. 

“Forty-three percent say they prefer Trump and 39% say they prefer Biden, which is within the margin of error for the poll. Robert Kennedy, Jr. pulls in about 9% of voters, but most of them say they would vote for Trump if they only faced a choice between Trump and Biden. These responses suggest that Kennedy is taking more votes from Trump.”

Ray La Raja
Ray La Raja

Ultimately, La Raja says that “a big group of voters don’t want the choices that appear to be imminent in the next presidential election. One in four said they would not vote for Trump or Biden. But when forced to choose almost half of them said they are unlikely to vote at all, and the rest pretty much split their vote between Biden and Trump.”

With Trump spending ample time in courtrooms on his legal difficulties, some have speculated upon the impact that a conviction may have among his supporters. The new poll, however, pours water on any partisan hopes for a GOP fissure should the former president be found guilty in one of his assorted trials.

“Among voters who say they would vote for Trump in November, fewer than a quarter tell us they would be less likely to vote for the former president if he is convicted of a crime before Election Day,” says Alexander Theodoridis, associate professor of political science at UMass Amherst and co-director of the poll. “So, it might be unwise to pin Democratic hopes on Trump’s many legal problems substantially undermining his support among Republicans.”

“With the election still nine months away, there is much that may affect the calculations of the nation’s voters, from the continued improvement of the economy to a legal decision in one of Trump’s criminal cases,” Nteta says. “What we can say with more certainty is that the 2024 presidential election – like the past few presidential contests – will be a close contest and one that will likely come down to the mobilization efforts of both campaigns in the nation’s key battleground states.”

“Fear and Loathing”

The new poll asked respondents what emotions the prospects of the election’s results elicit – from hope, happiness, relief and pride, to fear, sadness, disappointment and anger.

Alex Theodoridis
Alex Theodoridis

“While the Super Bowl may be coming up in Las Vegas, the Biden-Trump rematch is prompting fear and loathing across the United States,” Theodoridis says. “Less than three in 10 Americans think this rematch is good for the country. Huge majorities of Democrats and Republicans say they will feel fear, anger, disappointment and sadness if the other party’s candidate wins.”

“Emotions are running high in this election,” La Raja says. “When we asked voters how they would feel if Trump or Biden were elected, voters emphasized fear of the other side winning. Moreover, they were split evenly on expressing fear – 71% of Democrats fear a Trump victory, compared to 69% of Republicans fearing a Biden presidency. But a greater percentage of voters (39%) said they were hopeful if Trump won, compared to Biden (27%), which suggests voters appear less enthusiastic about Biden’s re-election right now.”

“As we head into the 2024 presidential campaign, fear is a predominant emotion among both Biden and Trump supporters,” Rhodes says. “Democrats and Republicans have distinctive fears, though. Many Biden supporters expect chaos – or even dictatorship – if Trump is elected. Meanwhile, a significant share of Trump supporters fear that a Biden victory will lead to the erosion of religious liberties and gun rights, as well as an explosion of undocumented immigration.”

Voters’ fears are not only based on concerns about potential policies resulting from the election, but also of actual physical violence surrounding it.

“More than three years after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, Americans remain haunted by the fear of electoral violence, with more than 70% expressing concern about violence associated with the 2024 campaign,” says Rhodes. “Among both Democrats and Republicans, a significant share believes that the other side may perpetrate violence if they lose the 2024 presidential election. Some also express the conviction that, if the other side wins, the president will use the powers of the federal government to persecute them.”


This University of Massachusetts Amherst Poll of 1,064 respondents nationwide was conducted by YouGov Jan. 25-30. YouGov interviewed 1,064 total respondents none of whom were matched out to produce the final dataset. The unmatched cases were weighted to a sampling frame using propensity scores. The sampling frame is a politically representative “modeled frame” of U.S. adults, based upon the American Community Survey (ACS) public use microdata file, public voter file records, the 2020 Current Population Survey (CPS) Voting and Registration supplements, the 2020 National Election Pool (NEP) exit poll and the 2020 CES surveys, including demographics and 2020 presidential vote.

The unmatched cases and the frame were combined, and a logistic regression was estimated for inclusion in the frame. The propensity score function included age, gender, race/ethnicity, years of education, region and home ownership status. The propensity scores were grouped into deciles of the estimated propensity score in the frame, and then post-stratified according to these deciles. The weights were then post-stratified on 2020 presidential vote choice, as well as a four-way stratification of gender, age (4-categories), race (4-categories) and education (4-categories), to produce the final weight.

The margin of error of this poll is 3.7%.

Topline results and crosstabs for the poll can be found at

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Nearly three-quarters of respondents – and nearly one-third of Republicans – also say that Justice Thomas should recuse himself from cases related to the 2020 election because of his wife’s reported ties to efforts to overturn the election’s results.

The border wall separating El Paso, Texas from Juarez, Mexico. Credit: Getty Images

The survey also finds that disapproval of the president’s handling of the Israeli-Hamas war, including from those on the left, threatens his chances this November.