Updated May 4, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Understanding the "double haters" who dislike Trump and Biden

Illustration of a pile of angry emojis overflowing from a trophy cup.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden and former President Trump are in hot pursuit of a big — and possibly determinative — group of voters who loathe both men.

Why it matters: This bloc of "double haters" has ballooned in size thanks to the surge in Biden's unpopularity since 2020, with polls suggesting they now represent 16% to 20% of the electorate.

  • That makes 2024 more similar to 2016 — when exit polls showed 18% of voters disliked both Trump and Hillary Clinton — than 2020, when Biden and Trump's dual unfavorables amounted to just 3% of the vote.
  • The behavior of double haters — whether they stay home, vote third-party or bite the bullet in favor of Biden or Trump — could be the X-factor in swing states where a few thousand votes could decide the winner.

The big picture: In this year's historically unpopular rematch, the double haters represent an extraordinarily broad range of views. None is a monolith, but several powerful identity groups stand out above the rest.

1. Old-guard Republicans: The GOP establishment may be a shell of its former self, but the ranks of the excommunicated have grown considerably since the early days of the "Never Trump" movement.

  • No Labels-style moderates such as former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan have been joined by arch conservatives such as former VP Mike Pence, one of many who were repulsed by Trump's behavior on Jan. 6.
  • The list of disillusioned Trump allies is longer than ever, with former GOP primary rivals Nikki Haley and Chris Christie among the most prominent — and potentially decisive — double haters.

2. Pro-Palestinians: Arab-Americans and left-wing activists have accused Biden of enabling "genocide" with his support for Israel's war in Gaza, generating heartburn for Democrats ahead of their August convention in Chicago.

  • Trump — no friend to the Palestinians or campus protesters — has attacked Democrats for insufficiently supporting Israel and vowed to restore his Muslim travel ban on Day 1 of his presidency.
  • But progressive activists are increasingly rejecting the "lesser of two evils" paradigm that historically has benefited Democrats, raising the risk that they'll boycott the election or vote third party.

3. Techno-optimists: This loose network of "free speech" advocates and DEI critics isn't significant in raw numbers — but could be when it comes to money and influence. It's also shifting unmistakably toward Trump.

  • Elon Musk, who says he voted for Biden in 2020, has become one of the president's loudest critics — routinely using his massive X platform to spread fears about illegal immigration and the "woke mind virus."
  • Venture capitalists David Sacks, who said Trump "disqualified himself" after Jan. 6, and Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Democrat, are planning a Trump fundraiser in San Francisco as soon as this month, Puck reports.

Zoom in: Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose independent campaign has collected enough signatures to appear on at least three swing-state ballots, could win as much as 38% of the double hater vote, according to a Monmouth poll out this week.

  • Polls vary on whether Kennedy will siphon more support from Biden or Trump, but both campaigns are taking the spoiler threat extremely seriously.
  • Jefrey Pollock, president of the Democratic polling firm Global Strategy Group, said the Biden campaign is using its huge fundraising advantage to define RFK Jr. as "dangerous" and "a vote for Trump."
  • "Last time, the third-party candidates didn't matter because there were so few 'dual unfavorables,' " Pollock told Axios. In 2024 — as in 2016, when Green Party candidate Jill Stein won more votes than Trump's margin in some swing states — they could be decisive.

Between the lines: Biden's campaign believes the president has an advantage with the double haters, even as his unpopularity has soared amid questions about his age, illegal immigration and persistent inflation.

What they're saying: "If Trump's extreme agenda of banning abortion nationwide and gutting Security Security wasn't repellent enough to these voters, he is also doing nothing to reach them — a surefire losing strategy," Biden campaign spokesman Charles Lutvak said in a statement.

  • The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
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