A startling number of lawmakers in President Biden’s own party in recent days have been unwilling to say he should be re-elected in 2024, amid nagging fears that he will be too old or unpopular to win.
Why it matters: Supporting the first term president of your own party is usually so automatic that no one would ask. But behind the scenes, there is a very real concern that going all in on Biden could be a mistake.
Reality check: Some Democrats personally do not want Biden to return to activity, for three reasons:
- He is deeply unpopular. Many Americans associate him with inflation, high gas prices, entrenched COVID-19 and an inglorious end to the war in Afghanistan.
- Progressives want to distance themselves from centrism and convention.
- Many Democratic voters want a generational change. Biden was older when he took office than Ronald Reagan was when he left office. If reelected, Biden would be 86 by the end of his second term.
Send the news: Just this week, two senior New York Democrats cast doubt on the president’s future.
- Representatives Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney were asked during a Democratic primary debate for the 12th congressional district whether Biden should run again in 2024. Neither would answer in the affirmative.
- That followed a refusal by Senator Joe Manchin (TUSEN.Va.) to commit to Biden ’24 as he tried to get a climate change deal across the finish line, and an outright “no” to Biden ’24 from two House Democrats in Minnesota during local interviews.
Yes but: Some strategists see all this as a deception of the nervous energy of the Democrats.
- “The chatter right now is more about the fear of ’22 than ’24, and it’s not really helpful to Democrats,” said David Axelrod, director of the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics and former senior adviser to the United States. President Obama, to TUSEN. “This is a parlor game in Washington.”
- “Now is not the time for the conversation. What voters say about an election two years from now and then change it is about as meaningful as the Farmer’s Almanac.’
- Biden’s age is “an issue he has to consider and if he flees, he will have to confront it. But he doesn’t have to now.”
The results of the November competitions and whether the Democrats lose control of one or both chambers of Congress will likely determine Biden’s fate.
- There is no party consensus on how to have a what’s-next conversation, or who might be the strongest alternative if Biden ultimately decides not to pursue a second term.
- Vice President Kamala Harris has a reputation as Biden’s No. 2, but worries about her popularity within her own party and her prospects for a general election.
By the numbers: Biden’s overall approval rating among Americans has dropped to 39%.
- According to a July poll by The New York Times and Siena College, only one in four Democratic voters said they would like him to run again in 2024.
- Age and job performance were the most important factors. About 94% of Democrats under 30 don’t want him to be nominated next time.
What they say: Democrats running competitive statewide campaigns in swing states are quick to be asked if Biden refocus on the issues they say voters want their party to address — such as access to abortion, the economy and inflation, crime and gun violence.
- John Fetterman’s Senate campaign, told TUSEN, “Pennsylvanians care about having a senator who is actually from Pennsylvania, understands their struggle and will actually fight for abortion rights and fight inflation.”
- Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak told us he is “more focused on cutting costs for Nevada residents and continuing the rapid economic recovery of our state,” but that he would support Biden’s re-election.
- “Biden is the leader of our party and if he is a candidate again I will support him, but if he is going to win Ohio in 2024 I would urge him to focus on cutting costs for working families – and that’s exactly what I’m doing in this race,” Nan Whaley, who is running for Ohio governor, told TUSEN.
- Josh Shapiro, the Democratic nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, “the president takes his word for it that he is back in business. His campaign told TUSEN that Shapiro is more focused on whether his GOP opponent Doug Mastriano, if elected, would throw out legitimate votes in 2024 if he didn’t like the outcome.
A handful of vocal House Democrats have been clear that they don’t think President Biden should — or will — run again.
- Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) told a local radio show last week, “I think the country would be well served by a new generation of compelling, well-prepared, dynamic Democrats standing up,” after answering “no” to whether he would support Biden in 2024 .
- Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) told MinnPost, “I think Dean Phillips and I are aligned with that, and I’m going to do everything in my power as a member of Congress to make sure we have a new generation of leadership.”
- Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) told TUSEN he’s heard rumors on the Hill that some want younger leadership, even if he doesn’t agree. “If the president decides not to participate, it’s clearly game on,” said Rep. Kildee. “But he has to make that decision.”
- Representative Carolyn Maloney (DN.Y.) said – on two separate occasions — that she doesn’t believe Biden will run for president again. She has since clarified That she want him to run, but persisted during a TUSEN interview on Thursday: “I happen to think you” [Biden] won’t run.”