“With Trumpism reascendant, ambivalence about Biden’s age and political standing is fueling skepticism just as the image of his understudy, Vice-President Kamala Harris, dips even further than his.”
As we recently noted, many top Democrats are already trying to position themselves to step in in 2024. They have good reasons for doing this. At Biden’s advanced age, anything could happen.
When it comes to polls, Harris fares worse than Biden, making this problem even worse for Democrats.
Over at New York Magazine, Gabriel Debenedetti describes the desperate talk that’s happening in hushed tones:
There Has to Be a Backup Plan. There’s a Backup Plan, Right? Inside the 2024 soul-searching that’s happening in every corner of the Democratic Party.
On a Tuesday evening in April, nearly half a century after Joe Biden first publicly mused about running for president, an unsettled cross section of the Democratic Establishment assembled at Pinehurst, a golf resort in North Carolina. Inflation was at a 40-year high, Biden’s disapproval rating sat at 56 percent, and editors at the New York Times were readying a front-page report about how his signature achievement — $1.9 trillion in coronavirus-relief spending — has “barely registered with voters.” The lobbyists, donors, staffers, and elected officials were gathering for the spring policy meeting of the Democratic Governors Association, and the scheduled sessions concerned such topics as health care and diversity in governance. But between panel discussions, in the hallways and at the cocktail reception on the lawn, conversation shifted from grim — the midterms — to grimmer: the state of the party’s planning for 2024, when Biden will stand for reelection on the eve of his 82nd birthday.
Biden hasn’t formally announced his campaign for a second term, but in his mind there’s no question he’s running. “That’s my expectation,” he said early in his tenure. “Yes!” he told an interviewer nine months later, sighing a little performatively at having to keep repeating it. “It’s been his life,” says one of his longtime advisers. “It’s like a shark that keeps swimming. It’s how he stays alive.” Or as another top Democrat puts it, “He was told in ’16 he couldn’t cut it. He runs in ’20 and everybody rolls their eyes, and he still wins. So why in the world now would he be like, ‘You guys are right. I am old’?” And yet many of the plugged-in Democrats wandered Pinehurst not entirely persuaded, calculating contingencies: If Biden’s health turned, or if his polling truly collapsed, which of the party’s governors might step up and save them from electoral ruin — and the nightmare of a Trump comeback?…
With Trumpism reascendant, ambivalence about Biden’s age and political standing is fueling skepticism just as the image of his understudy, Vice-President Kamala Harris, dips even further than his. The most recent analysis from the Los Angeles Times has her net approval rating at negative 11. The result is a bizarre disconnect within the Democratic Party, with two factions talking past each other. One group consists of Biden and his loyalists, who are convinced that while the ticket’s numbers are undeniably bleak, they’re historically unsurprising for a president and VP facing their first midterm and will surely bounce back. The second group comprises a broad swath of the Democratic elite and rank and file alike, who suspect that vectors of age, succession, and strategy have created a dynamic with no obvious parallel in recent history.
The biggest problem for Democrats is figuring out how they are going to get rid of Biden and Harris if they think they must. What if Biden insists on running? If Biden doesn’t run, isn’t Harris going to just naturally expect the baton to be handed to her?
Commenting on the same article, Bonchie of RedState notes that Democrats have painted themselves into a corner:
It’s a conundrum and one that isn’t easily solved. Harris is popular within the base of the party, and she will also carry the black vote in any Democrat primary. As the article notes, that makes her almost a shoo-in should Biden step aside. Yet, party insiders do not think she can win the general election, and I think they are correct in that judgment.
So where do Democrats go from here? Nowhere good is the answer. They are stuck in a kind of political purgatory where the incumbent president is a clearly declining, incapable old man who will be almost 82-years-old by the time of the next presidential election. Yet, the alternative of Kamala Harris is hardly preferable, and machinations to try to place a more “moderate” figure such as Roy Cooper at the top of the ticket are sure to fail and further destroy the party.
These are the fruits of putting Biden in office in the first place when it was clear he was not up for the job.
I’ll give the last word to Stephen L. Miller:
Biden was selected to get rid of Trump. Nothing more. Mission accomplished. Thanks old man. Now they have no use for him.
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) May 22, 2022
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.