New Yahoo News/YouGov poll: 60% of Americans say Biden is not fit for another term as president after disastrous debate — yet 2024 contest with Trump remains too close to call

Biden’s vulnerability has never been more apparent, but Trump remains too flawed to fully capitalize.

A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll confirms what most viewers sensed after last Thursday’s presidential debate: that it was a disastrous night for the 81-year-old President Biden, who looked unsteady, sounded sick, stumbled over his words and, at one point, lost his train of thought entirely.

A full 60% of Americans now say Biden is not “fit to serve another term as president.” Just 24% say he is fit. The president’s fitness rating has only been that low once before, in November 2023, and it has never been worse.

Yet the survey of 1,754 U.S. adults, which was conducted from June 28 to July 1, also shows that Biden (43%) remains statistically tied with his Republican rival, former President Donald Trump (45%), in a head-to-head matchup among registered voters — even after a performance that seemed to substantiate long-standing concerns about the president’s age and competence going forward.

In short, Biden’s vulnerability has never been more apparent — but Trump remains too flawed to fully capitalize.

There is no sugarcoating Biden’s debate numbers. Roughly three out of every four Americans (74%) say they either watched the debate (56%) or saw enough video clips afterwards to have an opinion about how it went (18%). A full 84% of registered voters report watching the debate (66%) or catching clips afterwards (18%).

Among that group of registered voters, a clear majority (57%) say Trump won the debate. Just 16% say Biden was the winner.

It’s rare, in our sharply polarized era, to see a margin that big. It’s also a stark shift from 2020. To put the president’s dismal debate numbers in perspective, the Yahoo News/YouGov surveys conducted in October of that year — which asked identical questions — found that Biden easily beat Trump among registered voters in their first debate (43% to 27%) while edging him in their second clash as well (48% to 41%). Still, in neither case did a majority of Americans name Biden the winner.

The rest of the responses from voters familiar with the debate tell a similar story:

  • A full 63% rate Biden’s performance as “poor”; another 21% rate it as “fair.” That’s a combined negative performance rating of 84%. Just 16% rate Biden’s performance as excellent or good. Following their second debate four years ago, Biden’s positive performance rating was 53%, while his negative rating was 47%.

  • In contrast, half of voters familiar with the debate rate Trump’s performance as excellent or good (50%) and half rate it fair or poor (50%) — significantly better than the 25% and 75%, respectively, who said the same after the first 2020 debate.

  • A majority say the debate made them think worse of Biden (51%); few say it made them think better of him (12%). Trump’s numbers are evenly divided between worse (27%) and better (29%).

  • Asked which candidate seemed more “coherent” during the debate, 58% now say Trump and just 15% say Biden. After the first 2020 debate, Biden was seen as more coherent by a 42% to 34% margin.

  • Asked which candidate seemed “stronger” during the debate, 59% now say Trump and just 17% say Biden. After the first 2020 debate, Biden (40%) and Trump (40%) were tied on this metric.

  • Asked which candidate seemed more “presidential” during the debate, 45% say Trump and just 37% say Biden. After the first 2020 debate, Biden was seen as more presidential by a 49% to 27% margin.

As a result, far more Americans familiar with the debate selected “embarrassing” (61%), “painful” (49%) or “frightening” (43%) rather than “inspiring” (10%) or “reassuring” (8%) when asked to characterize their overall impression of it. And it was Biden’s performance that they deemed “more responsible” for making the debate embarrassing (50% Biden's, 24% Trump's), painful (50% Biden's, 20% Trump's) and frightening (42% Biden's, 29% Trump's).

Nonetheless, a full 54% of all Americans say there should be more debates, including 63% of current Trump supporters and 53% of current Biden supporters. Just 25% think last Thursday’s face-off should be the last of the 2024 election cycle.

A second debate is currently scheduled for September, and both candidates have said they will participate.

The last Yahoo News/YouGov poll, conducted shortly after Trump was convicted on May 31 of falsifying business records to hide a hush money payment to a porn star, showed Biden (46%) narrowly leading his rival (44%) in a two-way race for the White House.

But it was something of a peak for the president. The previous six Yahoo News/YouGov surveys had shown Trump leading or tied with Biden among registered voters in a head-to-head matchup. At 46%, Biden’s level of support was his highest since August 2023.

The new, post-debate Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows Biden (43%) slipping back to where he was late last year, when Trump led 44% to 42%. And Biden (40%) continues to trail Trump (44%) — by a slightly larger margin than last month — when voters are given the option to choose “another candidate” before selecting from a list that includes independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (4%) and others.

Trump, meanwhile, has only topped 45% once before in a Yahoo News/YouGov poll — a ceiling he again fails to crack in the latest survey, suggesting there may be a hard limit on his potential support. It’s worth noting that Trump has already run for president twice, and he has never received more than 47% of the vote.

That's why the two-way race remains effectively tied— a rematch between two unpopular candidates with little crossover appeal. In fact, Trump’s favorability rating (39% favorable, 56% unfavorable) is slightly worse than it was before the debate (42% favorable, 53% unfavorable) — making it statistically identical to Biden’s (39% favorable, 55% unfavorable).

The president's job approval rating remains well underwater (38% approve, 57% disapprove) — but it is no worse than it was before the debate. Retrospective approval of the job that Trump did as president, in contrast, fell to 45% approve, 50% disapprove from 47% approve, 48% disapprove previously.

A full 45% of Americans familiar with the debate say Trump was the more “untruthful” candidate. Just 33% think Biden had a looser relationship with the truth.

The debate may have had only a modest effect on Biden’s standing vis à vis Trump. But it seems to have made a bigger impact on perceptions of Biden’s fitness to keep serving as president.

Just 24% now say Biden is fit to serve another term, down five points from 29% in early June — while 60% say he is not, up four points (from 56%).

That means Trump’s fitness score (43%) is now nearly 20 points higher than Biden’s — a gap that has been growing.

Among Democrats, Biden’s fitness score (53%, down 10 points since early June) has never been lower.

Overall, a full 56% of Americans — more than ever before — now say Biden’s age is a “big problem” regarding his fitness for the presidency, up six points since early June. Nearly two-thirds (65%) say Biden is “too old for another term as president,” and just 28% say he’s “up to the challenges facing the U.S.”

The clearest change is on a question that asks whether Biden’s age or Trump’s criminal charges is the bigger problem when it comes to their fitness for the presidency. Before the debate, slightly more Americans said Trump’s criminal charges (43%) were a bigger problem than Biden’s age (38%). But now those numbers have flipped to 38% and 42%, respectively.

Perhaps because of this, 45% of Americans now think Trump has the best chance of winning the 2024 election, versus just 25% for Biden. Before the debate, Biden’s number was eight points higher; Trump’s was six points lower.

Among Democrats, Biden’s number fell by 11 points, from 68% to 57%.

Post-debate anxiety about Biden’s prospects in November has prompted another round of speculation as to whether he might drop out and cede the nomination to a younger Democrat. (Biden has insisted that he’s staying in the race).

The new Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows that slightly more than a third of registered voters who identify as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents (36%) want the president to drop out — up from 28% in March.

More Democrats and Democratic leaners (45%) still want Biden to soldier on. But that number is now well short of a majority after falling by 10 points (from 55%) over the same period.

If Biden were to drop out, more Democrats and Democratic leaners continue to prefer “someone else” (42%) other than Vice President Kamala Harris (38%) as their replacement nominee — though Harris’s number has steadily improved since bottoming out at 30% in August 2022.

A growing plurality of registered Democratic voters also say they would prefer Harris (31%) to California Gov. Gavin Newsom (17%), Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (8%) Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (7%) or Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (6%) in a last-minute primary contest.

In February 2023, 25% preferred Harris, while Newsom, Buttigieg and Sanders all registered at 12%.

Pitted against Trump in an hypothetical two-way race, Harris (45%) still trails the former Republican president (47%) — but she does so with a slightly higher level of support than Biden, in part because she performs six points better among independents and five points better among voters aged 30 to 44.


The Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,754 U.S. adults interviewed online from June 3 to June 6, 2024. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to Nov. 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 27% Republican). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. adults. The margin of error is approximately 2.9%.