THE DISAPPROVAL of President Joe Biden is an immediate problem for the Democratic Party in the face of the mid-term elections and could be a greater burden when the 2024 presidential election approaches. For this reason, the most important liberal media, such as The New York Times, began to severely highlight Biden’s mishaps while stressing the Democratic need for presidential alternatives.
‘The Morning’ and the ‘weak’ Joe Biden
Leonhardt’s analysis is clear: the Democrats have engaged in politically exploiting issues that do not interest the average American. Biden is not only a president who follows the game imposed by his party, but he looks weak and incapable of handling the different crises the country is going through.
“The Democratic Party has two core problems. First, Biden’s job approval rating is only 33 percent (similar to Trump’s worst ratings during his presidency), partly because of frustration over inflation and the continuing disruptions to daily life stemming from the pandemic,” Leonhardt wrote. “Second, Democrats’ priorities appear out of step with those of most Americans.”
According to the NYT, progressive Democrats “seem more focused on divisive cultural issues than on most Americans’ everyday concerns, like inflation.” Likewise, the analyst explains that in Congress there is a sharp division between moderate Democrats and the rest of the party, which is preventing the blue party from more effectively leveraging its majorities in both Houses.
Leonhardt also quotes Nate Cohn, chief political analyst for the NYT, who agreed that the Democrats maintain priorities that differ from the country’s real problems and that conservatives are clear on what they must focus on to win the next elections: immigration, inflation and insecurity crisis.
However, Cohn also believes that the GOP has its own problem: Donald Trump, who, according to the NYT poll, is just as unpopular as Biden, and that would be a hypothetical problem for the GOP in a Biden-Trump race in 2024.
What Cohn suggests is that the GOP would be in trouble if Democrats again move their anti-Trump machine by applying a 2020-like strategy. But that could have a solution: without Trump in the ring, and with a popular Republican like Governors Glenn Youngkin or Ron DeSantis, the strategic situation would be more uphill and complex for the blue party.
Now, in the face of Biden and Trump’s low popularity, Leonhardt explained that those numbers lead “to a remarkable combination of findings from the poll.”
The most striking fact is that, according to the analyst, “Biden looks like the weakest incumbent president in decades; 61 percent of Democrats said they hoped somebody else would be the party’s 2024 nominee, with most of them citing either Biden’s age or performance.”
The second is that Biden and Trump would have an even election, despite the great unpopularity of the incumbent.
A surprising but meaningful analysis
Leonhardt’s piece is surprising. It could well be an analysis read on Fox News or the New York Post, yet it is published in one of the country’s quintessential progressive media: why? The writer himself hints at it in his writing: there is still a long time to go before 2024 and the Democrats can activate a plan B — or even C — to make it to the presidential election in two years.
The reality is that there are already several Democrats ready to replace Biden as a candidate. Hillary Clinton is one of the most mentioned names in the liberal press. Gavin Newsom, the California governor who has almost assured his reelection and who has been surviving his political scandals, is another possible candidate.
And Kamala Harris? At the moment, the polls are not looking good for the most unpopular vice president in decades. Leonhardt himself mentions it, “Other polls […] suggest Biden would fare better against Trump than Vice President Kamala Harris would.”
However, the Times‘ writer insists on not forgetting the reason Biden was ultimately the Democratic Party’s nominee to measure up against Trump: he was the least radical and the least likely to split the blue vote.
“These comparisons are a reminder that Biden won the nomination in 2020 for a reason: He is one of the few nationally prominent Democrats who doesn’t seem too liberal to many swing voters.” So “Biden, in short, is a wounded incumbent in a party without obviously stronger alternatives.”
In other words, for Leonhardt, an outwardly weak president, within an equally weak political party that has no clear roadmap for choosing its next presidential candidate.