President Joe Biden could face a strong challenge to holding the White House in 2024, according to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris poll that showed voters favoring former President Donald Trump in a hypothetical matchup.

Forty-eight percent of voters in the Nov. 30 – Dec. 2, 2021, survey said they would support Trump in the next presidential election, while 45% backed Biden. Eight percent were undecided.


Pitted against Vice President Kamala Harris, Trump leads 50% to 41%. Nine percent of voters said they were unsure. Up against Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the former president holds a double-digit advantage, 48% compared to 37%, with 15% undecided.

The poll comes as Biden and Democrats face a slew of challenges. Inflation hit its highest rate in nearly four decades, climbing to 6.8% for the year ending in November. Crime spikes, coronavirus outbreaks, and a supply chain slowdown are also weighing on the country. This poll and others show voters concerned about the Biden administration’s handling of the migration wave along the southern border, as well as its handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal.

Biden’s path may prove difficult if these trends continue.

While the president leads the field in a hypothetical 2024 Democratic primary contest with 36% of the vote, including a 20 percentage point lead over Harris, he fails to crack majority support.

Biden has said that he intends to run again for office, but at 79 years old, his age and acuity weigh on voters’ perceptions, including a majority who expressed concerns about his fitness for office.

Thirty percent of Democrats said Biden was “showing he is too old to be President,” according to the poll, while 65% of independents and unaffiliated voters agreed, along with 9 in 10 Republicans.

And while 47% said the president was mentally fit for office, 53% said they had doubts — including one-fifth of Democrats and a majority of independents and other voters. Eighty-three percent of Republicans felt the same.

According to the survey, Trump’s path to the Republican nomination appears clear should he choose to enter the race. The former president would be 78 years old entering the White House for a second term. Trump held a slight advantage against Biden when voters were asked who was the better president, with Trump eking out a 4 percentage point lead, 52% to 48%. Biden has yet to complete his first year in office.

Top Republican prospect Ron DeSantis loses the hypothetical race against both Biden and Harris, however.

While Democrats favor Biden or Harris to lead a hypothetical 2024 ticket, slumping job approval numbers have increased chatter about other prospective candidates’ chances.

The poll shows other Democrats with just a fraction of their support when asked to select one candidate from a list of prospects.

Buttigieg, a former 2020 Democratic primary rival to Biden and Harris who has since scored a prominent administration perch, whose meteoric rise has raised his prospects for higher office, earned a mere 3% of the vote, below most other 2020 competitors.


Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar garnered 10% of the vote, doubling the 5% scored by Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Bernie Sanders of Vermont and outpacing the 4% earned by Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams came in at 5%.