I am immediately filled with dread when I think about the prospect of another presidential election being a contest between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, but I can understand why the current commander in chief holds more of a keen interest since it’s his best chance of remaining president.
When asked about a potential rematch between him and his former political opponent in 2024, President Biden told an Israeli TV interviewer, “I’m not predicting, but I would not be disappointed.”
Considering his low approval ratings in recent months and growing chatter about whether Biden, who turns 80 later this year, should remain on the top of the ticket, that is understandable.
In a new Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday, only 31% of American adults said they approve of the way Biden is handling his job, while 60% disapproved of it. The day before that, a separate Reuters/Ipsos poll found Biden’s public approval rating had fallen to 36% — matching his record low in that same survey. With inflation and COVID-19 each running rampant, it makes sense for Biden’s popularity to take a hit, but there remains a specific growing distrust in Biden’s capabilities as president.
In that same Quinnipiac University poll, 71% percent of respondents said they would not like to see run Biden for reelection — including 54% of Democrats. By comparison, while 60% of Americans don’t want to see Trump launch a reelection bid, 69% of Republicans support such a move.
“There’s scant enthusiasm for a replay of either a Trump or Biden presidency,” Tim Malloy, a Quinnipiac University polling analyst, explained in a report about the survey’s findings.
“But while Trump still holds sway on his base, President Biden is underwater when it comes to support from his own party,” Malloy said.
This is reflected in additional data found in a New York Times-Siena College poll where 64% of Democrats said they wanted a different nominee than Biden in 2024. However, according to a new report from The Washington Post, Biden’s predecessor plays a much more central role in determining whether or not he sticks to his past commitments to seek reelection than any polling.
With Trump confirming in a recent interview with New York magazine that he has already made a decision about running for president again and talk of him planning a September announcement, Biden is said to maintain that he is still best positioned to beat him.
“Biden is correct that if Americans had to choose between him and Trump, they would likely choose him, but whether or not we deserve to suffer through that choice is a question that deserves greater scrutiny.”
Described in The Washington Post report as “one person close to Biden, speaking on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment,” a source said about Biden’s feelings on a 2024 rematch with Trump: “He feels he has something to prove. It just makes him more enraged.”
As easy as it is to understand and share Biden’s resentment of Trump and desire to make certain that he never becomes president again, it is utterly depressing to think about the future of America being determined by men in or hovering around their 80s.
And enraging, because no matter how you frame it, a president that unpopular can be defeated by anyone — even a racist celebrity ex-president who appears to like to dabble in felonious behavior.
Though I agree with recent criticism from Perry Bacon Jr. that much of Biden’s low polling numbers can be attributed to negative media coverage of Biden’s presidency, at the same time, during the last Democratic presidential primary, a lot of the national press corps perpetuated the notion that only a centrist old white man could defeat Trump. Biden fit the bill and undoubtedly bested Trump in the race. It’s just now Americans are being met with the reality that looking like a typical American president alone will not quell the concurrent number of ongoing crises plaguing the country.
I know a lot of Biden’s supporters — at least online — do not like to entertain criticism of is administration and the Democratic Party writ large under the pretense that the alternatives are far worse, but there needs to be a real acceptance that, like it or not, in the eyes of many, Biden has failed to meet the moment and they would like an alternative.
Biden certainly cared more about the health of Americans than Trump, but the pandemic is still raging. Worse, it appears the same mistakes from our federal government about COVID-19 are being replicated in the growing monkeypox crisis.
The inability to pass meaningful legislation tied to police reform, voting rights, abortion rights and climate change is indeed a slight on Congress, but for a man who previously wanted his presidency to mirror that of Lyndon B. Johnson, it is a testament to his ineffectiveness as a party leader by comparison.
Meanwhile, as Republicans stoke fears about the LGBTQ community or teaching white children about American racism while plotting to help Trump successfully steal the next election, Biden and his party continue to not even bother to mount a real defense.
Who cares if Joe Biden remains friendly with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) when McConnell is plotting to ruin the lives of the groups making up the Democratic Party base?
I don’t want to kick an elder while he’s down with COVID-19, but an event that has since been canceled in the wake of his infection speaks to the disconnect between Biden and his voters.
On Thursday, Biden sought to ask Congress for $37 billion for crime prevention programs ahead of congressional elections in November. Considering the controversy surrounding the Uvalde Police Department’s inability to protect children from a mass murderer with all of the money and equipment in the world, is giving law enforcement even more money as people struggle to survive the best midterm election messaging? Mind you, these are the same people being quite abusive to women and men who have been out protesting abortion restrictions.
And somehow, Biden is still speaking fondly about having pleasant lunches with segregationist senators as present Republican senators openly flirt with banning interracial marriage again.
Biden is correct that if Americans had to choose between him and Trump, they would likely choose him, but whether or not we deserve to suffer through that choice is a question that deserves greater scrutiny.
It sounds like a lot of Americans are not bound to another Biden run and are open to a different option.
When I think about potential replacements, I think California Gov. Gavin Newsom should keep Biden up at night the most.
Of course, Newsom swears he has no plans to run for president in 2024.
“I’ve tried to say ‘no, no way’ in every way I possibly can,” Newsom previously told Fox LA anchor Elex Michaelson.
However, CNBC reports that both Newsom and Vice President Kamala Harris have begun engaging donors in case Biden opts not to seek reelection. I would not underestimate Harris’ chances, but her popularity has suffered greatly under this administration.
Moreover, when we have an electorate that elected a racist game show host president and has professed interest in making Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson president, I wouldn’t discount the political viability of a man who looks like he plays president on TV. (Arguably, so does Kamala Harris — on, like, a Shonda Rhimes production, right?)
What ultimately sets Newsom apart from Harris or other presidential wannabes like Pete Buttigieg, though, is that he appears to understand the party he is up against in a tone Biden and his administration does not.
On a July 16 episode of Fox LA’s ”The Issue Is,” Newsom stressed that the Democratic Party and its supporters need to rally and organize with “ferocity” to combat the “ruthlessness” of the Republican Party.
“You have to also recognize what you’re up against, and right now, we’re up against the ruthlessness of the Republican Party,” Newsom said.
“That’s not a cheap shot. You see what’s happening to all the progress we’ve made in the 21st century, all of the rights that we in many ways have taken for granted that had been afforded since the 60s, are being rolled back in real time,” Newsom added. “This is a totally different moment.”
He added that the Democratic Party must “wake up with a different mindset” that goes beyond being collaborative — a mindset Biden, self-described creature of the Senate, clings to.
“The facts aren’t on their side, but they’re dominating the narrative,” Newsom said about the GOP. “And in this world right now, you dominate the narrative, you win. And that’s what I’m worried about.”
Yes, the GOP has gone full-on white Christian nationalist and pro-coup (stateside) but Biden is out here acting like he can’t expand the Supreme Court, declare a national emergency for climate change, say mean things about McConnell or Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), or stop giving the police he never reined in for murdering unarmed Black people more money.
Gavin Newsom has had his own challenges in California, but he is at least trying to fight Republicans in ways that mirror their habits — like his recent choice to run ads challenging Florida Gov. — and potential Republican presidential nominee — Ron DeSantis. I think Donald Trump will stomp out DeSantis in a GOP primary, but I don’t think it’s a guarantee he can run over any Democratic challenger not named Joe Biden — certainly not one who aims to respond to attacks in kind. And if it’s that hard to beat an aging racist who slurs his words onstage and tried to violently overthrow the American government, the county arguably can’t be saved.
I’ve heard some argue that our focus should be on the midterm elections rather than 2024, but what makes that difficult to do when Biden is unpopular and shows an unwillingness to change. Biden’s successful presidential bid benefited from a narrative about a return to political normalcy, but Biden’s numbers show that only Republicans generally have an enduring love of things old, white and reductive.
Democrats can afford to look around, so don’t be surprised that if nothing changes, more look out West.