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Meet the surging ‘double haters’ who could decide whether Biden or Trump wins the election

WASHINGTON ― Jana Pender is no fan of Donald Trump. “All his lies. He’s despicable,” said the 67-year-old retired casino housekeeper from Detroit.

Yet despite voting for President Joe Biden in the 2020 election, Pender is not backing him in 2024. She said Biden has “blood on his hands” for supporting Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“If nothing changes, I know I won’t vote for Trump and I know I won’t vote for Biden,” Pender said. “I just know I can’t vote for either of these people.”

Pender falls squarely within a group of voters known as the “double haters”− those who dislike Biden, the incumbent Democratic president, and Trump, the former president and presumptive Republican nominee.

This year, this group of skeptics is large and powerful. Double haters make up about 15% of the electorate, according to a poll this month by USA TODAY/Suffolk University, giving them significant sway in deciding the outcome of the November election. Other polls have found double haters make up as much as one-fifth of likely voters.

Prep for the polls: See who is running for president and compare where they stand on key issues in our Voter Guide

President Joe Biden walks across the South Lawn upon return to the White House in Washington, DC on March 21, 2023. Biden returned from a three-day campaign trip in Nevada, Arizona and Texas.

They pose a challenge for Biden as his campaign looks to keep the Democratic coalition united − amid signs of splintering − and not jump ship to one of the third-party candidates or sit the election out altogether. But double haters are also a wild card for Trump, whose divisiveness turns many of them off.

The USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll, taken March 8-11, found Trump leading Biden 40%-38% among registered voters, followed by independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy, 9%.

Twenty-five percent of the double haters supported Trump in the survey, compared to 18% for Biden. About 44% of the double haters currently back various third-party candidates. Kennedy drew more of these voters, 21%, than Biden did. Green Party candidate Jill Stein had the backing of 7% of double haters, while independent Cornel West was supported by 6%.

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“He would be top on my list of people to vote for,” Sally Power, 73, of Pittsburgh, Pa., said of Kennedy. Power, who runs a nonprofit women’s retail shop, doesn’t approve of Trump’s “statements and interactions with others,” but has concerns about Biden’s age and capacity to effectively serve another term until he’s 86 years old.

“I don’t want to vote for either one of them, honestly. That’s the problem. And I think I’m not alone in saying that,” said Power, who voted for Trump in 2016 but Biden in 2020. “I find both of them not representative of my views. And I don’t see them as being representative of the country.”

VANDALIA, OHIO - MARCH 16: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally at the Dayton International Airport on March 16, 2024 in Vandalia, Ohio. The rally was hosted by the Buckeye Values PAC. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 776119694 ORIG FILE ID: 2089688852

Who are the double haters?

In the 2016 election, Trump performed 17 percentage points better than Hillary Clinton among the double-hater voters − who made up about 20% of the vote − steering him to victory.

In 2020, Biden enjoyed higher favorability marks than Trump − 49% to Trump’s 45% in October of that year, according to Gallup − producing fewer double haters. They accounted for only 3% of voters in 2020. But this year, 55% of registered voters have an unfavorable opinion of Biden, according to the USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll, while 55% also have an unfavorable opinion of Trump.

“I think they will end up being the key swing vote because they’re the ones that could go third-party,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who conducted polling for Biden’s 2020 campaign. “They are the ones that could decide to stay home. They are the ones that swing back and forth because they’re not anchored by affection, they’re anchored by disaffection. These are the voters who decided 2016.”

Double-haters are composed of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. Many consider themselves independents. They skew younger. Most are white but Latino voters also make up a sizable share. Double haters are among those voters who have lingering concerns about the state of the economy despite a robust jobs market, low unemployment and a booming stock market.

Forty-percent of double haters in the USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll said the economy is the most important issue that will determine their vote, followed by immigration, 21%.

Many double hates are wary of Biden’s age − even though Trump, 78, isn’t significantly younger − are they convinced Biden has been weak and ineffective in office. But they have a fear factor with Trump − what they perceive as self-centeredness, the constant drama with his court cases, his controversial statements that echo dictators, and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

“I think Biden’s been an abject failure,” said Robert Brown, a 35-year-old from Minneapolis, who works in marketing and advertising. “Trump’s a piece of s—, too. Just to be real.” Brown said he’s leaning toward voting for Kennedy. “He’s a third option. How many times do we have to pick the lesser of two evils, right?”

Peter O’Connor, a 26-year-old student studying strategic communications at The Ohio State University, voted for Biden in 2020 and doesn’t like Trump. He is considering a vote for Kennedy this year. “I’ve heard a little bit about this Robert Kennedy guy. He sounds interesting to me,” O’Connor said.

Jim Meikle, 80, from Albrightsville, Pa., called Trump “an egotistical maniac” who cares about himself, not the country. Still, he said he will likely vote for Trump again, like he did in 2016 and 2020, over Biden, who he criticized over migration at the southern border, pushing the expansion of electric vehicles and his administration’s rocky military withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.

“You know, it’s really a shame. We’ve got a population of over 300 million people in this country, and this is the best that we can offer to be our president?” said Meikle, an 80-year-old retired manager at a sheet metal plant.

Source link : https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2024/03/23/biden-vs-trump-2024-double-hater-voters/73043564007/

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