Capitol Hill isn’t the only place panic is setting in about Joe Biden’s 2024 prospects. The consternation is spreading broadly throughout the party, and according to a new report, it’s completely warranted.
According to far-left outlet Slate, which is loath to ever criticize a Democrat, Biden is facing the worst environment for an incumbent president since the Great Depression. Poll after poll shows the president’s numbers plummeting to record lows.
As President Joe Biden grows increasingly mystified by his unpopularity, he is also experiencing the worst polling of his presidency. This plummet was punctuated by last Thursday’s release of several Bloomberg/Morning Consult surveys showing him getting swept in a series of battleground states. Then, on Tuesday, yet another New York Times/Siena College survey showed former President Donald Trump beating Biden nationally and, perhaps most shockingly, with young voters. Now that the contact high of the most recent Democratic election overperformance in November’s off-year contests has worn off, genuine fear has set in among both Democratic insiders and the rank and file as the president trails Trump by 3 points in the RealClearPolitics average.
Precisely how scared Democrats should be about Biden’s standing depends on how his plight compares with those of presidents past. And there’s no sugarcoating it: This might be the worst polling environment for an incumbent president one year out from an election since the advent of the polling era in the 1930s and also the most dire situation facing any Democratic presidential candidate in decades. Panic is entirely warranted.
It’s not just head-to-head polling that has become a horror show for Biden. As the article notes, the current president is in far worse shape regarding his approval ratings than Donald Trump was at this point in the 2020 election cycle. Specifically, Biden’s net negative approval is nearly twice as high.
It gets worse. In his approval ratings, too, compared with his incumbent predecessors, Biden is likewise off on an island, in all the wrong ways. Bush was sporting 58 percent favorability at this stage in the 2004 cycle, with nearly a 21-point net favorability. Obama was at 45 percent with a net negative approval of -4 points. (Of course, both went on to win their elections.) Trump was at 44 percent and -8.8 net approval, and we all know what happened there. Biden as of this writing is averaging just 40.5 percent in the RealClearPolitics average, with a net -15.4—nearly twice as bad as Trump on net.
There are two ways to look at this if you are a Republican, and I think both are valid. On one hand, it is never a bad thing to be leading among various indicators heading into an election. Biden has multiple things working against him. His actual performance has been abysmal, but he is also perceived as feeble, senile, and rapidly declining due to his advanced age. Worse for him, he’s perceived that way because those things are actually happening. There’s no recovering from that with just a shift in messaging.
On the other hand, Republicans have to be extremely careful to not get overconfident. We’ve been fooled by bad polling before, including in the most recent major election. Democrats not only overperformed in 2022, but they’ve overperformed in almost every special election since. There is certainly a turnout dynamic that has been favoring them since 2018, and it can’t be ignored.
The worst thing Republicans could do is assume Biden will simply lose by default. There’s a ton of money that will be spent by Democrats in 2024, and their most ruthless moves (especially regarding the weaponization of government) will be played in the summer, not now.
Regardless, Biden is in trouble, and Democrats know he’s in trouble. How far into the process can the party wait before making a change? Conceivably, Biden could hang around until the convention so as not to become a lame duck too early. He could then bow out gracefully, citing some kind of health issue. Democrats would then be able to reset the race at the perfect time.
Would Biden do that, though? I highly doubt it. Jill Biden’s ambition wouldn’t let him. She enjoys being treated like a pampered queen, and she’s not going to let that go willingly. In other words, Democrats look like they are screwed, but Republicans need to campaign like they are down five points. Take nothing for granted.