Democrats are quietly worrying about Biden’s age and ability to take on a resurgent Republican party in 2024.
Already the oldest president at 79 years of age, some Democrats worry that Biden will be fit to run for reelection. If he were to run for re-election, and win, he'd be 82 at the start of his second term in January 2025.
Biden has repeatedly said that he expects to run again in 2024. On Monday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reiterated in a message on her Twitter account: "To be clear: As the president has repeatedly said, he plans to run in 2024."
The "clarification" came a day after The New York Times reported that interviews conducted with nearly 50 Democratic officials and disappointed voters, reveal a party that is losing faith in Biden's leadership.
High profile Democrats are reluctant to speak on the record about Biden’s future. But, in private, several Democrats told Univision that the party was preparing for Biden to step aside after the midterm elections in November. Instead, Democrats are beginning to discuss other options in 2024, including Vice President Kamala Harris and former candidates such as Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and Beto O’Rourke, the former congressman who is currently running for Texas governor.
Repeated failures to pass major legislation on key Democratic issues, such as voting rights, taxes, infrastructure investment and climate change funding, as well as his administration’s weak messaging, have left the president with a falling approval ratings. Other global issues beyond Biden’s control such as a lingering pandemic, inflation, and the war in Ukraine, have also undermined consumer confidence and created a national mood of pessimism.
Biden's favorability falling in the polls
A poll last month from the Associated Press found Biden’s approval among his fellow party members at 73% — the lowest point in his presidency, and nine points lower than at any point in 2021. Another AP poll in January found just 48 percent of Democrats wanted him to run again.
Recent polls have also shown Biden losing more support among Hispanic voters. The president's job performance fell 21 percentage points among Hispanics in his first year in office, according to a Univision poll in March, though this was largely due to inflation and his management of the economy and not his Latin America policy.
Biden’s less than dazzling performance in front of the cameras has some Democrats questioning whether he will be fit to run in 2024. “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,” Obama’s former advisor David Axelrod told The New York Times.
CNN’s political analysts and former White House chief of staff, David Gergen, said recently: "I think people like Biden and [Donald] Trump ought to both step back and leave open the door to younger people."
But others say Biden should not be written off that quickly, recalling how he made a dramatic come back in the Democratic party primary in 2020 after being written off by many pundits.
Joe Biden, the Trump slayer, not to be underestimated
"The one true thing about Joe Biden - if you want to know what he is going to do, just listen to him. He's said repeatedly he plans to run for re-election, and there is no reason to not believe him,” said Steven Schale, a veteran Democratic party strategist in Miami.
They point out that that voters' qualms about age will be negated by Biden beating Donald Trump in 2020 by seven million votes. “I have no reason to think he won't run again, if for no other reason, he was the only one who ran in 2020 who could beat Trump," said Schale.
Democrats also argue that Biden’s record is better than it looks, with low unemployment, the end of covid restrictions, rallying NATO to defend Ukraine and restoring normalcy to the White House. “Joe Biden saved the country and cleaned up the mess left by Donald Trump,” said Kristian Ramos, a Hispanic media consultant with Autonomy Strategies. “He says he is running and if he does so he has a compelling narrative and story to tell,” he added.
Ramos compared the political situation for Democrats today to president Barack Obama in the run up to the 2010 mid-term elections. Despite halting the recession and turning the economy around, Obama didn’t get credit for that and was crushed in the elections that year.
“Joe Biden is doing a lot of good, but that story is not being told. That’s the frustration,” said Ramos. “The president needs to be a cheerleader. He needs to go out there and claim credit for a lot of this stuff,” he added.