Alt. Confused. Corrupt. Dishonest.
In a new survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, which asked an open-ended question about what comes to mind when people think of them, the unflattering portraits of both come to the fore.
For Mr Biden, the largest proportion of US adults – including both democrats and Republicans – mentioned his age. At 80, the Democratic president is just three years older than Mr. Trump, yet many Americans have expressed genuine concerns about his ability to remain president.
Mr Trump, meanwhile, has been charged with four counts totaling 91 offenses, sparking words like “corrupt” and “crooked” (cited by 15 percent), as well as “bad” and other generally negative comments (11 percent). Not far behind are words like “liar” and “dishonest” (8 percent). However, another 8 percent gave generally positive comments such as “good.”
A closer look doesn’t bring much improvement for either Mr. Biden or Mr. Trump. And while many of the criticisms reflect a well-known partisan political divide, the poll shows that neither man is immune to criticism from within his own party.
“He looks like he needs to be someone’s kind grandpa on his arm and not someone at the helm of power,” Justin Campbell, a 27-year-old Democrat and security official in the Brookhaven, Mississippi area, said of Mr. Biden. However, he was even more negative about Mr Trump, saying that the former president “acts like a kindergarten kid when people tell him ‘no’.”
Mr Campbell suggested Mr Trump reads so little about politics and national security that he may be “functionally illiterate”. He said he plans to vote for Mr. Biden next year and “I’m anxiously waiting for Donald Trump to end up in jail.”
Such feelings were widespread. A full 26 percent of respondents use words like “old” or “dated” to describe Mr. Biden, and another 15 percent mention things like “slow” and “confused.”
Another 10 percent make generally negative comments about the President, and 6 percent use words like “corrupt” and “crooked.” Just 6 percent use words like “president” and “leader,” and 5 percent use words like “strong” and “capable” — the most positive comments on Mr. Biden.
Mr. Biden’s age was mentioned frequently even among Democrats, with 28 percent mentioning it — a significantly higher percentage than those citing presidency or leadership (11 percent) or strength and ability (11 percent).
Mr Trump’s negative comments focus not on age but on his moral standing and behavior, along with things like “mouthy” and “angry” (6 percent), “crazy” and “dangerous” (6 percent) and “Narcissist” (6 percent). About 5 percent use words like “strong” and “capable.”
Rami Marsha, a 58-year-old CEO of a manufacturing company in Agoura Hills, California, is a registered Democrat who voted for Mr Trump in 2016 and for Mr Biden in 2020 – but says he would likely drop out of the presidential campaign His ballot is blank, when these two face off again in 2024.
“I think he might have dementia and I don’t think he has the power to run the country,” Mr. Marsha said of Mr. Biden. But he was also blunt to Mr. Trump: “I’ve had enough of him.”
That’s a pretty common belief. The poll shows that just 24 percent of Americans overall want to see Mr Biden run again, while 30 percent say the same about Trump — and the majority say they would be reluctant to support him if he were re-nominated.
Additionally, 62 percent of Americans say they have negative opinions of Mr Trump; 52 percent say the same about Mr. Biden.
Mr. Biden’s re-election campaign said the president’s age was not a key motivator for voters, especially when compared to the administration’s policy achievements or big issues like abortion. It also noted that perceptions of the president and Democrats were not strong ahead of last year’s midterm elections — only to then find the party exceeded expectations.
A Trump campaign spokesman didn’t respond to emails asking for comment, but the former president has previously used his impeachments to go on the political offensive, telling his supporters at rallies, “I’m going for accused you.”
Larry Haith, a 73-year-old Idaho native and retired auto parts maker president and chief executive officer, is a Republican who called Mr. Biden an “idiot” and Mr. Trump “arrogant” in the election. He said he has no plans to vote for either one next year.
Mr. Haith blamed Mr. Biden’s economic policies for dropping his net worth by at least about $150,000 and said the president “just needs to retire and move on.”
Although he found some kind words for Mr Trump, Mr Haith was also critical of the former president.
“I really like what he did and I like the choices he made,” said Mr Haith, who first added, “I really liked that harshness about him.” But those feelings have cooled, he said, for Partly because Mr. Trump has what Mr. Haith described as “a typical New Yorker, arrogant attitude.”
“I will no longer support him,” he said. “I’m done with him.”
Annie Doerr, a 60-year-old retiree from suburban Atlanta who describes herself as a moderate Republican, said of Mr Trump, “I thought some of his policies were good for Americans, but he’s just too distracting.”
Ms Doerr also had issues with the president, comparing him to what she had seen while caring for her 95-year-old father.
“He reminded me a lot of Biden, just things coming out of[Biden’s]mouth,” Ms. Doerr said.
“I just don’t think he’s fit for the presidency for another four years,” she added. “That may have been the case when he first ran for office, but not anymore.”
The poll also highlighted well-known ideological differences. Republicans were found to be more likely than Democrats to use words like “slow” and “confused” to describe Mr. Biden (25 to 7 percent), as well as words like “corrupt” and “crooked” (14 to 7 percent). 0 percent) and “weak” or “unqualified” (9 to 2 percent).
Meanwhile, top comments from Mr. Trump among Republicans include generally positive comments (15 percent), but also things like “strong” (11 percent) and mentions of America or patriotism (8 percent), as well as mentions of presidency or leadership (6 percent). Percent).
However, even some Republicans use negative words to describe Mr. Trump, including terms like “loudmouthed” or “angry” (7 percent). Others cited arrogance or hubris (6 percent), narcissism (5 percent), or other generally negative comments (6 percent).
Democrats are more likely than Republicans to cite corruption (25 percent versus 4 percent) and dishonesty (12 percent versus 4 percent) to describe Mr. Trump. Seven percent of Democrats cite racism, bigotry, homophobia or misogyny as their most common words to describe the former president. Those words were not quoted by any Republican in the poll.
Susan Grant, a 66-year-old retired office manager at a nonprofit physicians’ association from Westfield, Indiana, said she considered Mr Biden “very weak” and disagreed with his policies. Mr Trump, on the other hand, was “extremely divisive, and I think that’s bad for our country.”
“The Bible says, ‘A house divided within itself cannot stand,’ and all the division that has just been encouraged and promoted is just detrimental to our country,” Ms Grant said. “I’m very conservative when it comes to values and economics. But I personally don’t think Trump is a very good person.
Ms Grant has twice described herself as a “holding her nose” Trump voter. If he were the GOP nominee against Mr. Biden, she said: “I would probably do it a third time. But I wouldn’t be happy.”
“I also wonder if that’s what we need for a third party,” Ms Grant said. “Maybe it’s the impetus. I don’t know it.”
The survey of 1,165 adults was conducted August 10-14, 2023 using a sample from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is intended to be representative of the US population. The sampling error rate is plus/minus 3.8 percentage points for all respondents.