Young Americans strongly prefer Donald Trump to Joe Biden in the 2024 election, a poll has found, amid persistent concerns over the US president’s age.
Mr Trump, 77, leads Mr Biden, 80, among voters under the age of 35 by 20 points in the latest poll by the Washington Post and ABC News.
Mr Trump had the support of 53 per cent of the 18 to 35-year-olds surveyed, while Mr Biden was backed by just 38 per cent.
It suggests a further decline in Mr Biden’s support among young people, 43 per cent of whom backed him in a Post-ABC poll in February.
The findings, while at odds with other recent surveys, will set off alarm bells in the White House.
Kamala Harris to energise young voters
Young voters backed Mr Biden by double digits in 2020, helping to propel him to victory. Mr Biden’s campaign is relying on high youth turnout to repeat the feat in 2024.
The poll suggests Mr Biden’s lead among ethnic minorities has also dwindled to nine per cent, while Mr Trump has crept up.
Mr Biden has dispatched Kamala Harris, his vice president, on a tour of US college campuses in order to energise the country’s youngest voters.
Her stump speech has focused on Republican attacks to abortion rights and the party’s fierce opposition to cancelling student loan debt.
But the Biden-Harris campaign must contend with ongoing doubts over the president’s mental and physical competence, aided by a string of recent gaffes.
Three-quarters of respondents said Mr Biden, who would be 86 at the end of another term, is too old to serve again. Half of respondents said the same of Mr Trump.
Those doubts threaten to suppress Democratic turnout next November. According to the Post-ABC poll, 62 per cent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents oppose Mr Biden running in 2024.
There is no consensus on who would replace him, with Ms Harris, 58, and the progressive senator Bernie Sanders, 82, both receiving eight per cent support.
A fifth of the group said they prefer “just someone else”, and 16 per cent said they would vote for Mr Trump over Mr Biden.
Uphill battle for Biden
The pair appear on course for a rerun of their 2020 race next year, with Mr Trump the overwhelming frontrunner to be the Republican nominee.
In such a scenario, the Post-ABC poll found Mr Trump would beat Mr Biden by 10 points, a figure at odds with other recent polling suggesting the 2024 contest is a virtual dead heat.
Mr Trump triumphantly shared the results of the polling on his platform Truth Social.
According to the Washington Post, the figure may be an “outlier”, explained by “the unusual makeup of Trump’s and Biden’s coalitions” in the survey.
Nevertheless, the polling shows Mr Biden faces an uphill battle to win re-election next November with his approval ratings for handling the economy and immigration at an all-time low.
Mr Biden’s overall job approval number has been underwater for much of his first term, but now stands at a startling 37 per cent.
The Post-ABC poll found 56 per cent of Americans disapprove of Mr Biden’s performance, a higher figure than trackers by Reuters and the polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight.
Economic pain appears to be a driving factor, with a record number of Americans saying they have become worse off under Mr Biden’s presidency.
Meanwhile, voters appear to be looking back more fondly on Mr Trump’s one-term presidency – rating him 10 points higher than they did when he left office.
The poll was conducted on Sept 15 to 20, among 1,006 American adults nationally.
Biden’s argument for re-election
Biden insiders say they remain optimistic despite the figures. In briefings with donors, the president’s team has begun to lay out his argument for re-election and to confront questions over his age head on.
They believe holding just three states – Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania – will secure Mr Biden’s victory.
But they believe there are multiple paths to re-election involving four other states – Nevada, Arizona, North Carolina and Georgia.
Delaware senator Chris Coons, a close confidant of Mr Biden, admitted recent polling is “more concerning” than the campaign expected.