What if Biden no longer runs?
Tuesday’s US midterm elections will do more than shape the next two years of Joe Biden’s presidency. They will also help determine whether he will also run in 2024, say analysts and political advisers. As a new president’s party historically suffers losses in Congress in the midterm elections, Biden, 79, is coming under greater scrutiny.
He and his advisers said as recently as Nov. 2 that he wanted to run again and they were already making plans. White House officials expect him to run as well. But a wide margin of Democratic loss would be seen as a rebuke to Biden’s presidency and increase pressure on him to hand over the role to someone else, some Democrats say.
“I think we’re due for a generational shift,” said Thomas Alan Schwartz, presidential historian at Vanderbilt University. “I think the mid-terms could be decisive at this level. If the Democrats lose a lot, I think you could see a big enough push for Biden to pull out of 2024.” Biden choosing to step down, however, raises his own thorny issues:
SO WHO IS THE CANDIDATE? Vice President Kamala Harris is currently the Democrat’s top alternate candidate, Democratic officials told Reuters, with the majority of polls showing her second to Biden, and well ahead of most other oft-mentioned names. Michelle Obama, a voter favorite, has shown no intention of running in the race, and vice presidents seeking the presidential nomination historically win them.
But Harris’s approval ratings, once well above 50%, have languished at or below 40% in most polls. Her lackluster performance in the 2020 presidential race and her lack of notable political success as vice president have cast doubts on whether she can defeat a Republican opponent. Harris’ office had no comment.
A trio of staunchly Democratic state governors — Gavin Newsom of California, JB Pritzker of Illinois and Phil Murphy of New Jersey — have already reached out to potential donors and staff in the event Biden steps down, according to two sources familiar with these efforts. None of the three would run against Biden in a primary, and they could also defer to Harris, the sources said. A senior Democratic official said Newsom “told people he wasn’t going to run against Biden” or Harris. The Democrat said Newsom may change his mind about running against the vice president.
The campaign for Pritzker, who is seeking re-election, denied speaking to potential donors or staff. Newsom’s and Murphy’s offices did not respond to requests for comment.
Several Democratic 2020 presidential candidates could also appear, a scenario so unsettling for Democrats that it was turned into a horror movie by the comedy TV show “Saturday Night Live” last month. Already, about 20 politicians believed to have 2024 ambitions have raised more than $591 million since January 2021 through their aligned political operations, the nonprofit Open Secrets reported in September, including Newsom, Pritzker, Senator American Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, US Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
Spending in the 2020 presidential election topped $5.7 billion, according to campaign finance research site Open Secrets, more than double the amount spent in any of the last three presidential elections. thanks to small dollar donors. Any Democratic primary competition would weaken the party’s financial firepower in 2024, which could see spending rise again, campaign finance experts believe.
PRIMARY CALENDAR CHANGES The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is set to make the biggest change to its presidential primary calendar in decades, which could affect the party’s choice for 2024.
Iowa and New Hampshire have long opened the presidential nomination process, but with populations around 90% and 93% white, respectively, do not reflect the Democratic Party’s likely overall electorate, estimated at 40% of non-whites by Pew Research. South Carolina, Nevada or Michigan could host the Democratic primary instead. The changes may have little impact on an uncontested re-election bid for Biden — after all, the president won the Democratic nomination with help from South Carolina.
But it could be seismic if he steps down, forcing candidates to address concerns from black and Latino voters early, and potentially alter the momentum of the race. “It will have a dramatic impact. Having a more diverse first primary, including geographic, will help ensure candidates address a wider range of issues and ultimately produce a better candidate,” said Karen Finney, a Democratic political consultant.
The DNC Rules and Regulations Committee is expected to meet in December on the matter, with a final decision in early January. LESSONS FROM LBJ AND THE 1860s
Biden would not be the first US president to decide not to run for re-election. Lyndon B. Johnson, defied by fellow Democrats opposed to the Vietnam War, shocked the country by announcing in March 1968, a presidential election year, that he would not run again. And several consecutive Republican presidents, beginning in the 1860s, served only one term.
The results were markedly different for the two sides, historians note. Johnson resigned in speech pleading for peace in South Vietnam and congressional action to reduce the deficit, saying he could not devote time to ‘personal partisan causes’ as Americans died overseas . The Democratic convention and chaotic campaign that followed ended with Republican Richard Nixon taking office. “It was a mess, largely because it was so late in the game,” said Jeremi Suri, a professor in the University of Texas history department.
Republicans of the late 1800s, however, held the White House through a period of national division, widespread post-Civil War anger, and razor-thin voting margins for several consecutive terms, fielding new candidates again and again. . “I think the Democratic Party and the White House shouldn’t assume that you have to run the same presidential candidate again to fill the White House,” Suri said.
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)