Who wins on policy? American support for Biden's and Trump’s proposals

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
Paul TeasU.S. News elections intern
June 27, 2024, 3:11 AM GMT+0

What do Americans think about policy proposals from the two leading presidential candidates — Joe Biden and Donald Trump? A recent survey asked whether Americans support or oppose more than two dozen policies suggested by each candidate — without specifying which one proposed them.

Of the policies included in the survey, the average share of Americans who support the 28 policies proposed by Biden is higher than the average share supporting the 28 policies proposed by Trump. All but one of Biden's policy proposals — pledging 10 years of U.S. military support for Ukraine — are supported by more people than oppose them. That is true of just nine of the 28 Trump-proposed policies — the only ones to receive net positive support. This result depends somewhat on the policies included and the wording used, but the contrast — between 27 of 28 and 9 of 28 — is so big that it would be unlikely to change with small revisions to the survey.

The most popular of Biden's policies asked about — by total support — are instituting universal gun background checks, funding two years of free community college, requiring presidential candidates to release tax returns, increasing funding for research in women's health, and capping out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs. The policies proposed by Biden that are most likely to be opposed are pledging 10 years of support to Ukraine for its war against Russia, canceling up to $10,000 in student loan debt, banning the manufacture and sale of assault rifles, increasing grants for use at historically Black colleges, reducing tax breaks for oil and gas companies, and incentivizing states to restore voting rights to felons. However, all of these policies besides Ukraine support are supported by more than oppose them.

Trump's most popular policies — among those asked about — are phasing out imports of essential goods from China, banning hormonal or surgical treatment for transgender minors, requiring asylum seekers to wait in their home countries, arresting and deporting illegal immigrants, and building a border wall. The policies proposed by Trump that receive the highest amount of opposition are ending the Affordable Care Act, sending U.S. troops into Mexico to battle drug cartels, sending U.S. troops into large cities to enforce public order, allowing the death penalty as a punishment for drug dealers, and eliminating most mail-in voting. All of the policies listed in the previous sentence are opposed by more people than support them — as are many other Trump proposals included in the poll.

People who plan to vote for each candidate are more likely to support most of their preferred candidate's policies. And most supporters oppose many of the policies proposed by the opposing candidate. There are some policies that supporters find common ground on, however. For example, majorities of Biden and Trump supporters favor Biden's policy pledging U.S. military support to Taiwan if China were to invade. And few supporters of either candidate support giving Trump control of regulatory agencies that now are independent.

While the survey did not indicate who proposed each policy, it did ask about general awareness of each candidate's policy plans. 47% of Americans say Biden has given them a very or somewhat clear idea of the policies he will enact if re-elected president. More — 62% — say the same about Trump. 86% of registered voters who support Biden say they have a clear idea about the policies he'd like to implement; 94% of Trump's supporters say the same about his policies. 50% of Biden supporters say they're clear on Trump's policies, while just 31% of Trump supporters say the same about Biden's policies.

Explore results on policy support below:


— Carl Bialik contributed to this article

See the results for this YouGov poll

Methodology: The poll was conducted online among 2,289 U.S. adult citizens on two separate surveys from June 18 - 21, 2024 and June 19 - 22, 2024. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to November 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 31% Republican). Respondents were asked about a randomly selected sample of 28 of the 56 policies. The margin of error for each of the policies asked about in the survey is approximately 4%. For the overall sample, the margin of error is approximately 3%.

Image: Getty