By Ros Krasny, Bloomberg
Americans are least favorable toward a presidential candidate who’s a socialist or one who’s older than 75, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that said President Donald Trump’s approval rating ticked up in the past month.
Only 25 percent of respondents ranked “socialist” as a desirable trait for a candidate. Only 37 percent said “someone over 75” was desirable, according to the survey, released on Sunday. More voters were accepting of candidates who were gay or lesbian, independent or under 40.
The poll comes as Democrats line up for a chance to take on Trump in the 2020 presidential election. The survey suggests that 41 percent of voters would definitely or probably vote for Trump in 2020, against 48 percent who said they would vote for the Democratic candidate.
Early polls have shown that among front-runners for the Democratic nomination are former Vice President Joe Biden, 76, who is still deciding whether to run, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, 77, who has announced another presidential bid. Trump is 72.
Heading toward the first 2020 nominating contests about a year from now, Democratic primary voters reported by a margin of 55 percent to 42 percent that they prefer a nominee who proposes policies that could bring major change over one suggesting less change.
“We’re getting early signals from Democratic primary voters that they are looking for bigger change and someone who agrees with them on policy,” said Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who worked on the survey.
Republicans in the White House, Congress and in the media have made “socialism” a significant point of attack as the election draws closer, ripping proposals for expanded access to Medicare, the so-called Green New Deal, and other Democratic priorities.
McInturff said that despite the minority of voters who said they’d re-elect Trump in 2020, the Republican president can take solace in Americans’ upbeat views of the economy. A majority of voters surveyed said they don’t believe there will be an economic recession in the coming year.
“As long as these economic numbers look like this, that always keeps an incumbent president in the race,” he said.
As at least one well-funded independent — former Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz — considers jumping into the race, only 38 percent of Americans said the two-party system is seriously broken and that the U.S. needed a third party. But that was the highest percentage on the question in a poll that dates back to 1995.
Trump’s approval rating ticked up to 46 percent from 43 percent in January. He had the support of 88 percent of Republicans. Thirty-seven percent of GOP primary voters said they’d like to see another Republican challenge Trump in 2020, while 59 percent said they were opposed to that.
The NBC/WSJ poll of 900 adults was conducted Feb. 24-27 and had an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points. The survey also measured 720 registered voters including primary voters from both parties with higher margins of error.
(Updates with pollster quotes from sixth paragraph.)
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