The question of whether Biden will run almost feels like a logical paradox because the answer can’t possibly be yes but it also can’t possibly be no.
It can’t possibly be yes:
“The presidency is a monstrously taxing job and the stark reality is the president would be closer to 90 than 80 at the end of a second term, and that would be a major issue,” [David] Axelrod said.
“Biden doesn’t get the credit he deserves for steering the country through the worst of the pandemic, passing historic legislation, pulling the NATO alliance together against Russian aggression and restoring decency and decorum to the White House,” Axelrod added.
“And part of the reason he doesn’t is performative. He looks his age and isn’t as agile in front of a camera as he once was, and this has fed a narrative about competence that isn’t rooted in reality.”
Biden is currently below 39 percent approval at RCP. Even if you could magically make him 25 years younger, Dems would still be considering their options for 2024.
So it can’t possibly be yes. But it can’t possibly be no. Name me one other Democrat of any national prominence who would realistically expand the Democrats’ coalition as nominee. And don’t say Michelle Obama, as there’s zero evidence that she’s interested.
Kamala Harris? She’s less popular than Biden. She’d almost certainly underperform his margins among white voters, especially working-class whites, without adding votes elsewhere.
Pete Buttigieg? Black voters have no use for him. And I’m skeptical that an openly gay candidate can get elected president, at least running as a Democrat.
Bernie Sanders? He’s older than Biden and far easier to attack as a radical.
Elizabeth Warren? Also unlikely to connect with minorities and easy to attack as radical. For all of her agitation on behalf of the working class, she comes off as the embodiment of the Ivory Tower.
Stacey Abrams? By November, she’ll be a two-time loser in Georgia and still won’t ever have held federal or statewide office.
Who else is there? This party has no bench whatsoever. Even if you want to throw a curveball by naming a dark-horse populist like John Fetterman, Fetterman’s health crisis is frightening enough that voters will probably deem him a nonstarter due to his condition.
Democrats desperately need a candidate with strong working-class appeal to shore up black support and claw back losses to the GOP among Hispanics and blue-collar whites. Which is why I had to laugh when I read this LA Times piece this weekend:
[Gavin] Newsom has signaled interest in the national political stage, publicly sparring with his Republican counterparts in Florida and Texas over pandemic management, abortion and gun restrictions. He recently suggested Democrats were too timid in responding to the U.S. Supreme Court poising to overturn abortion rights.
At 54, Newsom has time to choose an opportune moment to run. But it’s hard to imagine a bigger political stage than the one he’s on now as governor of America’s most populous state from which to springboard into a national campaign. He’s already demonstrated the ability to raise the vast sums needed to vie for California’s highest office, with more than $23 million on hand after spending $5 million in the primary.
“He’s got a fantastic base — 10% of the national population — and massive amounts of money available to him,” Sabato said.
I can’t remember who said it but someone once described Newsom as a glass of Chardonnay in human form. Virtually no one who lives outside his home state believes his home state should be a model for anything. California is where Americans used to dream of living; now Californians dream of living elsewhere, including Mexico. Newsom is also known primarily as a left-wing culture warrior, not an economic populist, at a moment when left-wing culture warriors have alienated the working class. In the public imagination, his state has become a byword for brazen property crime and widespread homelessness. Every criticism Americans have of San Francisco and Los Angeles can be hung around Newsom’s neck in a national election.
Who on earth would be eager to vote for that? Which blue-collar voters willing to consider a Democrat in 2024 will find themselves galvanized by a slicked-back wokester whose state seems more dystopian each year?
A few days ago, Ruy Teixeira begged his party to appreciate its “Chesa Boudin Moment” and use it to try to reconnect with working-class Americans. Imagine if the primary electorate’s response to that was to say, “Yeah, let’s nominate Gavin Newsom.”
So Democrats are hemorrhaging support among Asian voters, alienating other nonwhite voters with their lax approach to public safety and losing many formerly loyal white liberals and moderates who are “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore”. What to do?
The answer seems clear to me. It’s time for Democrats to adopt former UK prime minister Tony Blair’s felicitous slogan: “Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”. Conservative outlets like Fox News may exaggerate but voters really do want law and order—done fairly and humanely, but law and order just the same. Democrats still seem reluctant to highlight their commitment to cracking down on crime and criminals because that is something that, well, Fox News would say.
This has got to stop. Weakness on crime damages the Democrats’ brand and especially hurts some of their most vulnerable constituents.
Would Gavin Newsom be an upgrade from Joe Biden in being perceived as “tough on crime”?
Biden’s going to have to run. And yet he can’t possibly run. He’s running, the White House said today — but they have to say that. If they betrayed any hint that he might not run again, he’d lose whatever leverage he has over Congress and internationally.
Here’s Kellyanne Conway reasoning that Biden’s going to run again because he wants to and there’s no way to get rid of him. I think if party leaders went to him and explained that he can’t win, he’d do the right thing. Remember, once upon a time, Biden described himself as merely a “bridge” to a new generation of Democratic leaders. Considering how weak their bench is, it turns out to be a bridge to nowhere.
What are your thoughts on the story? Let us know in the comments below!