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September 26, 2023

Biden’s a Loser — but Democrats Can’t Ditch Him

Democrats sealed their fate when they picked Biden-Harris in the first place.

If Joe Biden is their nominee, Democrats will lose the White House next year.

That conclusion gets harder to deny with each passing week.

But what can Democrats do about it?

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll has Biden trailing Donald Trump by nine points, 42 to 51%.

Progressive pundits have reacted with denial, anger and bargaining.

The once-mainstream psephologist Larry Sabato could only rage on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter:

“It’s a ridiculous outlier (Trump up 10 over Biden — laughable). My question: How could you even publish a poll so absurd on its face?”

Where would the profession be if pollsters discarded the data every time they didn’t like what their surveys told them?

Behind the numbers are some basic facts that Democrats ignore at their peril:

The president’s age and questionable capacity to do his job are serious concerns for voters, with 74% of those polled by ABC saying Biden is too old for another term.

Doubts about his fitness will grow as voters see more of him on the campaign trail.

Only 23% approve of the way Biden is handling immigration.

He fares little better when voters are asked about the economy: just 30% approve of his performance.

In contrast, the public now sees the Trump years more favorably: ABC gauged approval for Trump’s record at 38% when he left office. Now that’s up to 48%.

Democrats can choose to read only polls that tell a reassuring story — but there are fewer and fewer of those.

Most instead show a dead heat between Trump and Biden in 2024, and recent averages indicate the contest is tilting to Trump.

The issues on which next year’s election will be fought look dire for Biden.

Democratic mayors from Oscar Leeser in El Paso to Eric Adams in New York have acknowledged that migration has reached crisis proportions, “a breaking point” in Leeser’s words.

Crime and homelessness are so bad in blue cities that the Democratic mayor of Dallas recently switched to the GOP.

If this is what urban mayors think, you don’t need polls to tell you how voters feel.

Tenured economists at America’s most prestigious universities insist the economy is terrific — but the experience of shopping for groceries or trying to buy a home says otherwise.

Any incumbent in this environment would have to be an energetic salesman to convince voters that they’re better off than they were four years ago.

Biden has neither the energy or the salesmanship.

Four years ago, Democrats harnessed a backlash against Donald Trump, in the midst of COVID and the George Floyd ordeal, to elect Biden.

But now that voters can make a direct comparison between the Trump and Biden eras, the juxtaposition doesn’t favor Biden.

And if Trump has personal qualities that bother voters, they don’t trouble them as much as Biden’s advancing decrepitude does.

The ABC poll agrees with others that find a majority of Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents would like someone other than Biden to top the party’s ticket in 2024 — 62% said so in ABC’s survey.

Yet a scenario in which the Democrats dump Biden is hard to envision.

First there’s the president himself, who won’t go gently into that good night.

His life is politics, and like his contemporaries Sen. Mitch McConnell (81) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (90), Biden (80) has nothing but the grave to look forward to once he leaves office.

The president has arranged Democrats’ primary calendar to frontload South Carolina, the state that saved his campaign in 2020. He’s taking no chances — and not stepping down.

Then there’s the succession problem: the Democrat next in line is Vice President Kamala Harris, whose electoral prospects are, if anything, bleaker than Biden’s.

Yet she’s a Black woman — what white or male Democrat would dare cut in front of her?

Gavin Newsom, the California governor who very much wants to be the next Democratic president, is smart enough to wait.

He knows if Biden (or Harris) fails in 2024, the path will be clear in 2028.

If Biden or Trump gets reelected next year, neither can run again. And if Harris replaces Biden before the election, chances are she loses and is out of the game for good.

Biden could win reelection and die in office, which would make Harris an incumbent in ‘28, but the risk of that is low compared to the hazards of trying to toss out Biden and Harris alike with a 2024 challenge, then going on to beat Trump in an issue environment inherited from Biden.

Democrats sealed their fate when they picked Biden-Harris in the first place.

Yes, the Republicans could still blow it — but Joe Biden means the race is theirs to lose.


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