Dem doom? Just 28% want Biden to run in 2024, including less than half of Democrats

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

A leftover from the new AP poll that Ed wrote about earlier. You want the good news or the bad news first?

Let’s do the good news. Exactly one year into his presidency, not even a third of the country says it wants the current guy back on the ballot in 2024. Meanwhile, his heir apparent is widely perceived as less viable than he is. That makes Democrats easy pickings for the GOP two years from now — in theory.

Who are Democrats supposed to run if their own voters don’t want another four years of Biden and if Harris is unelectable?

As of now, just 28% of Americans say they want Biden to run for reelection in 2024, including only 48% of Democrats…

Just 45% say they approve of Biden’s handling of COVID-19, down from 57% in December and from 66% in July 2021.

Americans are even more downbeat about his handling of the economy, with just 37% approving. Growing angst about his economic policies comes as inflation rose at its fastest pace in nearly 40 years last month, a 7% spike from a year earlier that is increasing household expenses and eating into wage gains.

Biden’s destined to see improvement on all of these numbers if/when the pandemic finally winds down and inflation begins to abate. But I suspect his ceiling in the polls will be lower than everyone thinks because of his age and the deepening perception that he’s not up to the job. He’s the first president we’ve had in decades who didn’t get elected on the strength of his own support but on the strength of opposition to his opponent. He’s already done what he was supposed to do, which is get the former guy out of the White House. So long as Trump remains out of the way, Democrats have no particular use for Biden.

Which brings us to the bad news for Republicans. They’re prepared to renominate a candidate who scored even lower than Biden when people were asked if he should run again in 2024:

Twenty-seven percent. The GOP is on the brink of tripling down on the one candidate who might be capable of losing to Biden (again).

Or are they? Josh Kraushaar highlights this noteworthy result in today’s new NBC survey:

It’s often said, including by me, that Trump’s grip on the party has never been tighter, but this data should make us question that assumption. Since leaving office, he’s never outpolled the GOP when Republican voters are asked whom they support. In fact, the party’s lead over him in that metric has been expanding, reaching its widest margin in three years this month. For the first time, more than half of Republicans say they consider themselves supporters of the party more so than of Trump. What do we make of that?

It’s a combination of factors, I’d guess. Trump has been mostly out of sight and therefore somewhat out of mind over the past year. It’s McConnell, DeSantis, and other Republican politicians who’ve been out in front in challenging Biden, which naturally steers some voters to identifying more closely with the party writ large than with Trump specifically. Meanwhile, the GOP agenda has remained on a Trumpy populist culture-war trajectory, delivering the sort of politics MAGA voters like (anti-mandates, anti-CRT) without the cringy tweets. Trump will certainly see a resurgence in the “loyalty” contest once he announces his 2024 candidacy, but some Trump voters may be starting to conclude that they don’t need him as nominee to keep the party on its nationalist course. They can have Trumpism without Trump now.

Which is a serious potential threat to Trump’s primary prospects.

Ann Coulter, a Trump ally turned enemy, has a column today titled “The Message in the Polls: Trump’s Done.” That’s a gross exaggeration but I think she’s right that the share of “Trump and no one but Trump” voters on the right has shrunk. Self-identified Republicans might still be a Trump cult but the broader right includes many independents who’ll support him only if they have to in the name of defeating the Democrats. They might prefer a different nominee in 2024.

So how is it possible that 77% of “Republicans” — net — have a favorable opinion of Trump? There’s no other subgroup of the electorate that has even a third of that.

The only explanation is that an awful lot of Republicans are now calling themselves “Independents.”…

Thanks to the media’s lies, the only people calling themselves “Republicans” these days are the Trump die-hards. In other words, the blockbuster conclusion of this poll is: Trump die-hards like Trump!

Yes — and they’re the only ones who do. While Trump fanatics are indeed fanatical, everyone else is sick and tired of his nonsense.

It’s elementary electoral politics that the GOP’s 2024 chances would improve by nominating someone lacking the enormous amount of baggage Trump brings with him, beginning with the fact that he tried to overturn the last election he was involved in. When an incumbent’s doing as dismally as Biden is, basic strategy is to make the next election a referendum on him. Democrats used that strategy successfully against Trump, in fact, highlighting his pandemic response in 2020 and otherwise keeping Biden hidden away in his basement. Nominating someone other than Trump in 2024 would turn that referendum approach around on the Dems, keeping Biden’s record front and center. Whereas running Trump again would turn it into a “choice” election, forcing voters to choose whether they want four more years of the hapless and senescent Democrat or four more of the loose cannon who nearly pulled off a coup once before. Trump isn’t a sure loser in that contest but he’s not a sure winner either.

The trick for Ron DeSantis or some other would-be Trump rival is figuring out how to beat him in a primary. Read Rich Lowry for shrewd advice on that. There’s no way to outpoll Trump by running to his left, but someone who ran to his right by criticizing his ability to deliver on MAGA priorities might be onto something. Why didn’t he build the wall? Why did he let Fauci convince governors to shut down the country? Why didn’t he rein in China? Why couldn’t he beat Joe Biden? There’s a populist-friendly line of attack ready and waiting for any candidate willing to use it. Is there one?

I’ll leave you with Biden’s latest attempt to revive his political fortunes, getting Tom Hanks to narrate a video about how awesome the past year has been. Believe it or not, this is an old “Simpsons” joke come to life.