Joe Biden was elected President in 2020 with some 81 million votes — at least according to the “official” vote counts. Given his advanced age and a lackluster campaign run largely from his basement, it’s not a stretch to contend that a fair percentage of those votes were cast not for Joe Biden but against Donald Trump. Thus, if Biden is genuinely eyeing a bid for re-election, it would work to his benefit for Trump to secure the GOP nomination in 2024.
That calculus, of course, depends on retaining the bulk of those 2020 votes. Ordinarily, an incumbent holds that built-in advantage, but when said incumbent’s approval rating sits decidedly underwater that advantage can be chipped away. It is further eroded by a lack of enthusiasm within party ranks for that re-election bid, whether that’s driven by disdain for the candidate or a desire to take his place (or both). Joe Biden already has both of those negatives to contend with.
But even worse than that, there are increasing rumblings from within Biden’s own base that paint a less-than-rosy picture of his ability to mount a successful campaign. The Associated Press published a story Friday morning that acknowledges the proverbial elephant (or donkey, if you will) in the room: that some voters who supported Democrats in the 2022 midterms — even some who voted for Biden in 2020 — are not enamored of the idea of him running again in 2024.
Describing the approach of some Democrats, like newly-minted Michigan Congresswoman Hillary Scholten, who ran successful midterm campaigns while distancing themselves from their party’s de facto leader, the story observes:
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That approach tapped into an apparent openness among voters to support Democratic candidates in the midterms even if they weren’t necessarily fond of Biden, a discernment that is notable at a time when politics has become increasingly nationalized. Roughly 1 in 6 voters for Democratic House candidates said they disapproved of Biden’s job performance, according to AP VoteCast, an extensive nationwide survey of the electorate. Two-thirds of these voters said Biden was not a factor, good or bad, in their midterm decisions.
The findings are a warning sign for both parties at the outset of the 2024 presidential campaign. For Republicans, a constant stream of attacks on Biden may have little effect on voters who will accept him over GOP contenders seen as too extreme. But for Biden, the findings also suggest that the surprisingly strong Democratic performance last year might not translate into energy around his reelection.
“We certainly have a problem as a party if individuals have such low satisfaction with the leader of our party,” said Scholten, who also noted she would welcome a competitive Democratic primary, an unlikely prospect for now.
That 1 in 6 may not seem all that significant, but translate that to Biden’s 2020 votes, and you realize that could translate to roughly 13.5 million would-be Biden voters who disapprove of his performance. And some of them are acknowledging that openly.
Shea Comfort of West Chester, Pennsylvania, doesn’t think there’s enough attention on working people who are struggling to feed their families when the “price of living now outweighs our check.” It’s not just Biden who isn’t doing enough, he said, but he called the president “the biggest liar of them all” and a “puppet on a string.”
“None of these guys have seen hungry nights,” the 44-year-old cook said of politicians. “The middle class is getting kicked in the spine.”
Comfort said he’s a Democrat who voted for Biden in 2020 and Gov. Josh Shapiro in 2022, but he’s voted for Republicans before and would again. He said he wouldn’t vote for Biden for reelection.
“We just were so busy focused on getting (Donald) Trump out of here that we took anything,” Comfort said. “But who else can really run that you trust anyway? So, no matter what, it’s like you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t.”
Did you catch that? “We just were so busy focused on getting (Donald) Trump out of here that we took anything.” Thanks a lot, guy.
So, what do those voters do if “Not Trump” isn’t on the ballot in 2024?
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