Let’s put this in 1970s slasher-film terms: The confidence-crisis cascade is calling from inside the Democratic house! Joe Biden has stumbled badly enough that a majority of voters from his own party want a different nominee rather than a second Biden presidential campaign, according to the latest CNN poll. They attempt to make this about Donald Trump as well, but Trump actually scores better despite having lost his last election:
A significant number of both Democrats and Republicans currently hope to see their parties find alternatives to President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump in the next presidential election, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS. But very few have specific candidates in mind, underscoring how distant — and potentially mutable — the 2024 race remains.
The survey, conducted in January and February, found that 45% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters wanted to see the party renominate Biden in 2024, while 51% preferred a different candidate. … Across the aisle, Republican and Republican-leaning voters are about evenly split between wanting their party to nominate Trump again (50%) or wanting a different candidate (49%).
That comparison may look equivalent to CNN for its framing purposes, but it’s not. Trump lost his last election and with that loss comes significant baggage for a man who insisted his biggest value was in his constant winning. The primary polling for the party out of power at this stage is also somewhat pointless, especially before the midterm cycle gets truly under way. Trump didn’t take his first polling lead until July 2015, eight months after the 2014 midterms. At this stage eight years ago, the GOP polling leaders were Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, and Rand Paul.
Want to guess how many delegates these four won in the 2016 primaries? Six. Combined. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio won the silver and bronze medals in 2016 and still combined for less than half of the delegates Trump won.
The CNN poll data actually shows the proper comparison:
Biden’s running thirty points behind Barack Obama in the renomination question at almost exactly the same point in their presidencies. He’s ten points below Bill Clinton on the positive and sixteen points worse on the negative. This is a president whose party has no confidence in his leadership. Bear in mind too that Obama ended up in a tight race for re-election with those numbers two years later and took a massive beating in the midterms eight months after that poll. Imagine what that will look like for Biden with these numbers.
The non-exclusive reasons for negative answers has little to do with ideology. The most popular response is that Biden can’t win against whomever the Republicans nominate (35%), but close behind is that Democrats simply don’t want him back (31%). Nineteen percent think he’s too old. Only two percent want Biden replaced to get different policy views.
This isn’t a policy issue for Democratic voters — it’s a personal rejection of Biden. In fact, only 25% offered a specific replacement candidate, and those were spread widely through the usual suspects on the Left. Bernie Sanders gets 5%, Michelle Obama 4%, Kamala Harris only 2%(!), and so on. Oprah Winfrey even gets one percent. However, 72% said they don’t care, as long as the new nominee isn’t Joe Biden. And this is among Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents.
The demographics on this question are brutal too, especially in the demos that Biden and Democrats will need in the midterms as well as 2024. When asked to choose between Biden and anyone else, Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents made these choices by demos:
- Women: 44% Biden, 51% anyone else
- “People of color”: 55/43
- <45YO: 33/63
- College graduates: 37/56
- >$50K income: 40/54
If you’re a Democrat running in the midterms, what does this tell you — besides “retire”? These negative numbers within their own base portends a turnout nightmare for Democratic incumbents. The dead weight of that level of opposition to Biden makes a red wave in both chambers of Congress all but certain if something doesn’t improve quickly. But with Biden’s legislation stalled out, inflation increasing, and the White House refusing to read the room on COVID restrictions, there’s no path for this to improve … and still room for it to get worse.