Democrats looking ahead to 2024 see President Biden — whose poll numbers are dropping as fast as prices are rising — as a liability who could potentially lose to a Republican, according to a new report.
Some within his own party reportedly fear Biden’s age, weakened political standing, perceived shakiness on the world stage and lack of ability to enthuse voters could scuttle his chances for re-election.
“To say our country was on the right track would flagrantly depart from reality,” Steve Simeonidis, a Democratic National Committee member from Miami, told the New York Times.
The president “should announce his intent not to seek re-election in ’24 right after the midterms,” Simeonidis said.
Biden and his administration are bedeviled by the highest rate of inflation in four decades, gas prices that have shot up beyond $5 a gallon, recent horrific mass shootings in Buffalo and Texas, a Supreme Court that appears poised to strike down Roe v. Wade and a domestic agenda that has stalled despite Democrats holding a majority in Congress.
Democratic lawmakers and party officials are pessimistic about Biden’s ability to rally the base if the party suffer a drubbing at the hands of Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections, and worry about his ability to prevail once again in a face-to-face matchup with former President Donald Trump, the newspaper reported on Saturday.
There are questions about whether Biden, who would be 82 on inauguration day 2024, can handle a grueling presidential campaign and ramped up media pressure — especially when he has kept the press at arm’s length by giving fewer interviews than any of his immediate predecessors.
“The presidency is a monstrously taxing job and the stark reality is the president would be closer to 90 than 80 at the end of a second term, and that would be a major issue,” David Axelrod, the chief strategist for Barack Obama’s two winning presidential campaigns, told the Times.
Axelrod said the president hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves for piloting the country through the coronavirus pandemic, unifying NATO against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and “restoring decency and decorum to the White House.”
“And part of the reason he doesn’t is performative. He looks his age and isn’t as agile in front of a camera as he once was, and this has fed a narrative about competence that isn’t rooted in reality,” the longtime political operative said.
Biden’s job approval rating has fallen to 33%, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released last week.
At the same time, 64% of Americans are discouraged by his handling of the economy, and 34% agree that inflation is the more pressing issue facing the nation.
Jasmine Crockett, a Texas state representative who won a primary runoff for a Democratic House seat last month, was reluctant to criticize the president.
But she but pointed out that while Republicans in the Lone Star State have passed bills to restrict abortion and voting rights, Democrats in Congress have failed to push through a progressive agenda despite holding slight majorities in both the House and Senate.
“Democrats are like, ‘What the hell is going on?’” Crockett told the Times. “Our country is completely falling apart. And so I think we’re lacking in the excitement.”
Faiz Shakir, who was Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager in 2020, said Biden is dogged by a perception of weakness among some Democrats who want him to grapple more forcefully with Republicans.
Shakir said he thinks Biden would defeat Trump a second time, but if Republicans nominate someone like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Democrats might want to look elsewhere for a candidate.
“If it’s DeSantis or somebody, I think that would be a different kind of a challenge,” Shakir told the newspaper.
Shelia Huggins, a lawyer from Durham, NC, and a member of the Democratic National Committee, got directly to the point.
“Democrats need fresh, bold leadership for the 2024 presidential race,” she told the Times. “That can’t be Biden.”
Not only are Biden’s job approval numbers tanking, but the strength of his support among the base is faltering, especially among black voters who turned out overwhelmingly for him in the 2020 presidential race.
Adrianne Shropshire, the executive director of BlackPAC, an African-American political organizing group, said she worries that black voters will not vote for Biden again after his administration failed to deliver on criminal justice and voting reform promises.
“Does this frustration and the malaise and the worry and the fear, does that translate into an ongoing enthusiasm gap, and does that cause people to feel like their participation doesn’t make significant change?” she said. “That’s the real question.”
But members of the administration and Democratic officials said despite the ongoing raft of problems besetting the administration, they believe Biden is the party’s top choice in 2024.
“Only one person steered a transition past Trump’s lies and court challenges and insurrection to take office on Jan. 20: Joe Biden,” Anita Dunn, a senior adviser to the president, told the Times.
Some said they have heard the same uncertainty over who the Democrats’ standard-bearer should be before.
“This is the same hand-wringing that we heard about Barack Obama in 2010 and 2011,” Ben LaBolt, who worked on Obama’s campaigns, told the newspaper.
Few Democrats told the Times that candidates mulling a White House run would be put off by Vice President Kamala Harris, who has stumbled in the job and whose poll numbers are also sinking.
But they noted that many of the potential Democratic 2024 hopefuls — Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Cory Booker of New Jersey — lost to Biden in the 2020 Democratic primary.
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who mounted an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, said the party needs to look to a younger crop of candidates.
“The generation after me is just a complete trash heap,” the 73-year-old Dean said.
Dean, who said he voted for Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in 2020, told the Times that Democratic leaders have spent a lot of time talking about what they want to do — without achieving their goals.
“We need to have specific examples of how we’re dealing with things; it can’t just be pie-in-the-sky and kumbaya,” Dean said.