For the third poll in a row, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are locked in a dead heat in Minnesota. In the latest KSTP/SurveyUSA poll, Biden leads Trump 44% to 42%, with 11% saying they’ll vote for another candidate and 4% undecided.

Each candidate received 87% support from their parties, and Biden holds a slim lead among independents (36% to 33%). However, 25% of independents prefer “other candidates”. That statistic echoes a general frustration among independents nationwide; there doesn’t seem to be much excitement for either candidate as we head into the election season.

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November is a long way off, and things might change, but writers at asked “Has there ever been an election between two more unpopular candidates?”.

To determine the answer, editors gave each candidate an average favorability rating.

For example: President Biden currently holds a 40% approval rating and a 55% unfavorable rating, so his rating is -15%. Former President Trump has a favorable rating of 45% and an unfavorable rating of 55%, so his rating is -10%.

Using that same formula, every candidate since 1980 received a rating. Since Reagan vs. Carter, only seven of the 22 candidates had a negative net favorability rating.


If both candidates hold their negative ratings through the election, it will be the second election between two unpopular candidates. In 2016, the Clinton/Trump matchup featured candidates with lower negative ratings.

Does the more popular candidate always win?

While the dataset for elections featuring unpopular candidates is very small, there is a nugget of wisdom we can pull from the data: the election may come down to what candidate has the higher “strongly opposed” rating.

So, if a Biden supporter is asked about their feelings on Trump, they may say they have a “neutral”, “somewhat opposed” or “strongly opposed” position. That answer can serve as a proxy for how motivated they are to vote for their candidate just to make sure the other candidate doesn’t win.


On this point, the candidates are evenly scored. Editors at say a simple average of surveys conducted in March found Biden had a “strongly unfavorable” rating of 42% to Trump’s 43%.

This election may come down to who is more strongly opposed by voters. Bluntly, this election may come down to which candidate the voters DISLIKE the LEAST.

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