Even WaPo Isn’t Excited About the Dems’ 2024 Prospects

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    It’s a holiday weekend and the news cycle seems to have ratcheted down a notch — whether as a nod to the holiday(s) or from sheer overload/exhaustion is up for debate. But tucked away in the folds of yesterday’s Washington Post (figuratively, of course — I’m viewing the story online) was a rundown of the top Democrat contenders for the presidency in 2024.

    And I do mean “rundown.” Very little about WaPo’s analysis here is particularly flattering — as to any of the potential candidates, but most notably the current President and Veep.

    The article starts out with an uncomfortable acknowledgment that Joe Biden may not be a legit contender come 2024:

    The poll, from YouGov, asked about the 2024 Democratic presidential primary; only 21 percent of Democratic-leaning voters said their choice was the incumbent Democratic president, Joe Biden. That put him barely ahead of the 18 percent who said they weren’t sure whom they supported; Vice President Harris and Bernie Sanders each had 14 percent shares.

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    This is not normal. We’ve seen some evidence that Democrats aren’t sold on nominating Biden for a second term, including a poll in November showing a majority of Democrats didn’t want him to run again. But lots of Republicans say the same about a repeat run for Donald Trump in 2024 — yet he’s the clear front-runner when you pit him against actual would-be opponents.

    Then comes the handwringing over how best to address this rather awkward predicament:

    But if Biden is intent on running again, do you allow a competitive primary that could put the choice in voters’ hands — and risk damaging the incumbent president, ala Jimmy Carter vs. Ted Kennedy in 1980? Do you subtly suggest to Biden that it might be better to pass the torch, and hope that it works? Or do you just hope things with his presidency get better?

    The article then provides a list of the ten most likely contenders for the Dems. (Notably absent from the list — not even landing in the “worth mentioning” column: Hillary Clinton.)

    I won’t set the entire list out here, but rather, include a few excerpts to illustrate the tone WaPo takes in its analysis:

    California Governor Gavin Newsom — “Newsom notched a big victory in a much-watched recall vote last year, but how he’d wear on voters outside the Golden State is a big question. Newsom practically exudes “West Coast liberal,” even as he’s probably a bit more moderate than some people realize.”
    Senator Cory Booker (NJ) — “His 2020 campaign came nowhere close to capitalizing on the promise of his early political career, but Booker is just 52 and could still have another act on the national stage.”
    Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN) — “Her high-water mark in 2020 was 20 percent in New Hampshire, and she underperformed in Iowa long before Biden really kicked things into gear.”

    But the glummest notes are reserved for the two who should be the “most likely to’s”…

    Vice President Kamala Harris (who, by the way, doesn’t even land in the top two) — “We’re dropping Harris down a slot this time. Being vice president is certainly a good launchpad, but it’s not at all clear Harris has put it to good use. Her numbers are similar to Biden’s, and she’s done little to change the perceptions that harmed her 2020 campaign, including on her ability to drive a message.”
    President Joe Biden (the “Big Guy” himself) — “Having said all of the above, things are often darkest for a president in a midterm election year. And Biden has both a pandemic and inflation to contend with. If those factors wane in the coming months, and after the 2022 midterms? The picture might be significantly different.”

    Yes. And if the Biden administration hadn’t been floundering so spectacularly in its first 15 months, the picture might be significantly different, too. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for Biden or Harris, nor an optimistic outlook for Dems as a whole.

    Then again, we’re over two years away from the conventions. We could be looking at a totally different political landscape by the time we get there. My suspicion is the folks at the Washington Post would welcome that.

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