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Most voters want Biden to step down, but don’t agree on suitable alternative – poll

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A majority of voters want Joe Biden to stand down following his dismal debate performance, yet aren’t convinced there is a suitable alternative Democratic candidate, new polls have found.

In a Morning Consult poll, 60% of respondents, Republicans and Democrats, said the president should be replaced by his party for November’s election, while another 11% were unsure.

But the same poll also found that Biden’s popularity, initially at least, appeared to be unaffected by his stumbles and gaffes during Thursday night’s debate with Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump.

He retained a one-point advantage, 45-44% over Trump, the same margin as Morning Consult found the day after the former president was convicted in May on 34 charges of falsifying business records to try to influence the 2016 election.

Another apparent glimmer of hope for the incumbent came in a separate Data for Progress post-debate poll that found no indication any other Democrat would perform better against Trump in November.

While Biden trails Trump 48-45 among respondents, all other leading Democratic figures would perform the same or worse in a head-to-head match-up. Prominent names that voters were asked about included vice-president Kamala Harris (45-48), transport secretary Pere Buttigieg (44-47), California governor Gavin Newsom (44-47) and Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer (44-46).

A YouGov poll, meanwhile, found respondents overwhelmingly thought Trump won the debate, and that 30% of Democrats believed somebody other than Biden would give the party the best chance of winning in November.

The figure rises to 49% among all US voters, including Republicans and independents. Conversely, only 13% of Republicans believe their party’s best chance of victory would come by nominating somebody other than Trump.

One of the most devastating polls for Biden, however, was a Democracy Corps survey of Democratic-leaning voters, who used words such as “confused”, “frail”, and “dementia” to describe the president’s debate performance, Politico reported.

Voters were surveyed before and after the debate. While 65% said they would vote for Biden before the debate, only 54% said he won the debate once it ended, according to the survey.

Harris, 59, is the obvious choice to replace Biden, if he stands down, and has been the subject of increasing speculation in the days since the debate.

But Biden allies have insisted the president is standing firm and will contest and win the election, despite anguished calls from senior party officials and media heavyweights, including the New York Times, for him to step aside.

According to the Data for Progress poll, most voters consider Biden, who will be 82 at the start of a second term, too old to run again. 53% said they were concerned about his age, and physical and mental health, while 42% said they were more concerned by Trump’s criminal conviction, other upcoming trials and threats to democracy.

A CBS poll released Sunday, recorded in the two days following the debate, appears to echo the findings of the other surveys. It found 72% of registered voters did not believe Biden possessed the mental or cognitive health necessary to be able to fulfil the obligations of office, up from 65% at the beginning of the month.

A breakdown of the Morning Consult poll, meanwhile, shows that almost half of Democrats, 47%, want Biden out of the race, compared to 59% of independents, and 74% of Republicans. The figure among Democrats rises to 50% when limited to those who actually watched the debate.

That poll also suggests there is no clear replacement for Biden. Harris leads the field, but with only 30% support of Democratic voters, with Newsom the only other potential candidate in double figures, at 20%.

Others listed include Buttigieg at 9% and Whitmer at 5%, with a string of other Democratic state governors, Andy Beshear, Roy Cooper, JB Pritzker and Wes Moore at 3% or below.

Since the debate, Newsom has forcefully defended Biden and insisted he will not challenge the president. Harris has also expressed confidence in Biden, stating after the debate that the November presidential election “will not be decided by one night in June”.

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