Most politicians and political pundits speak with a level of certainty that the 2024 Democratic presidential team will be Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. President Biden has all but announced his intention to run for a second term — and Vice President Harris has confidently predicted that if Biden runs, she will be his running mate.
Despite the current predictions, there is an undercurrent of doubt – a feeling that the question of the 2024 Democrat team may not be as settled as it appears. That feeling applies to both Biden and Harris. Perhaps neither of them will be on the ticket.
Why the doubt? Presidents who win a first time generally run for a second – and they generally keep the same vice-presidential teammate. After all, why break up a winning team? This year may be unique, however.
Let us first consider Biden. What would prevent him from being the Democrats’ standard bearer? The most obvious issue is age – followed by health. In terms of the latter, Biden is at an age that – as they say – anything can happen. While he appears to be in relatively good condition for a man his age, it would not be shocking if he were to suffer a serious health problem – heart attack, stroke, or cancer.
And that is why his age, alone, is an issue. Statistically, it is unlikely that he could go another six years without a major health issue. Even if nothing major happens before the 2024 election, voters would have a justified concern about his ability to get to 2029 without a serious health event – or even surviving that long.
And even in the absence of some major health crisis, there is the question of his ability to perform the functions of the office. Ninety-eight-year-old Jimmy Carter said that no one over 80 is fit enough to be President – and he should know about the more subtle complications of aging. Electing a President who is over 80 years old is a gamble – and the odds are not good.
Then there is the matter of popularity. Despite the Democrat’s efforts to sell their good news political gospel – and the willingness of the crony press to play public relations department for Biden and the Democrats – Biden is not a popular President. His favorable rating has been underwater for most of his presidency – hovering in the mid-40 percentile and occasionally dropping as low as a disastrous 36 percent.
Biden seems to have two problems. His policies have resulted in economic hardships for many Americans – most notably the hard-hitting inflation that Biden predicted would never happen and then would not last long. While Biden claims to be a whiz in foreign policy, his policies have weakened the United States.
His too-little, too-late policy in Ukraine is prolonging the war and making a Ukraine victory less than assured. His surrender in Afghanistan has transformed an allied nation into an adversarial nation, reduced U.S. intelligence capability, and strengthened both al Qaeda and the Taliban.
His southern border policy has been an unmitigated catastrophe for the United States – overwhelming American resources with a flood of refugees – mostly ineligible for asylum. The hoards of border crossers are exacerbating the already serious crime problem and pouring fuel on the deadly fentanyl crisis.
In backing Biden, Democrats are counting on President Trump being the opponent – and that he is eminently beatable regardless of Biden’s weaknesses and downsides.
Biden’s ability to get renominated largely depends on his ability to keep out any serious competition. It is not easy for challengers to defeat incumbent presidents running for reelection – as was the case of Ronald Reagan’s attempt to take out President Ford in the 1976 GOP primaries and Senator Ted Kennedy’s effort to defeat President Carter in the 1980 Democrat primaries.
Biden’s only obstacle to the nomination is a health crisis or his own decision to withdraw. However, his chances of winning the nomination in 2024 are greater than his winning the election. Newsweek reported a decline in Biden’s chances of winning the nomination. The odds of his being reelected are even worse. Of course, much depends on who the GOP opponent will be – and that requires a completely different analysis.
What about Harris? She creates a unique problem for Democrats – many of whom privately wish for a different person. Biden, himself, may share that wish. It has not been the most harmonious President/Vice President matching in American history. However, the Democratic Party’s wokeness makes it virtually impossible for Biden to make a change.
If Biden decides not to run, is unable to run, or is not around to run, Harris will most assuredly make a run for the Oval Office. She would face serious competition – and I would give her less than a 50/50 chance of winning the nomination. She is not all that popular among Democrats.
Harris also undermines Biden’s own chances for reelection. Whoever is Biden’s running mate has a significant chance of assuming the presidency by virtue of a serious decline in the President’s health — or his demise. Not since the Democrats dumped socialist Henry Wallace in favor of Senator Harry Truman in 1944 – knowing that President Roosevelt was a dead man walking – has the issue of succession been so important. A lot of Republican and Democrat voters have been keeping their fingers crossed for Biden’s wellbeing throughout his first term.
The issue for Harris is whether wokeness or political pragmaticism will prevail when it is time for Biden to pick is running mate. The closer the election appears in the polls in the summer of 2024, the prospect of a vice presidential switch-a-roo increases.
Finally, there appears to be a desire among the voting public to see new leadership in both parties. While Biden – and Trump – are currently the frontrunners in their respective parties, polls indicate that most American voters would be happy to see both Biden and Trump be retired from active politics.
Much too early to make predictions, but there are good reasons to believe that the situation today will not prevail as the election draws near.