Sunday, September 17, 2023

Top Democrats' Bullishness on Biden 2024 Collides With Voters' Worries

At the New York Times, "Party leaders have rallied behind the president’s re-election bid, but as one top Democratic strategist put it, “The voters don’t want this, and that’s in poll after poll after poll":

As President Biden shifts his re-election campaign into higher gear, the strength of his candidacy is being tested by a striking divide between Democratic leaders, who are overwhelmingly unified behind his bid, and rank-and-file voters in the party who harbor persistent doubts about whether he is their best option.

From the highest levels of the party on down, Democratic politicians and party officials have long dismissed the idea that Mr. Biden should have any credible primary challenger. Yet despite their efforts — and the president’s lack of a serious opponent within his party — they have been unable to dispel Democratic concerns about him that center largely on his age and vitality.

The discord between the party’s elite and its voters leaves Democrats confronting a level of disunity over a president running for re-election not seen for decades.

Interviews with more than a dozen strategists, elected officials and voters this past week, conversations with Democrats since Mr. Biden’s campaign began in April, and months of public polling data show that this disconnect has emerged as a defining obstacle for his candidacy, worrying Democrats from liberal enclaves to swing states to the halls of power in Washington.

Mr. Biden’s campaign and his allies argue that much of the intraparty dissent will fade away next year, once the election becomes a clear choice between the president and former President Donald J. Trump, the dominant leader in the Republican primary field.

But their assurances have not tamped down worries about Mr. Biden from some top Democratic strategists and many of the party’s voters, who approve of his performance but worry that Mr. Biden, who will be 82 on Inauguration Day, may simply not be up for another four years — or even the exhausting slog of another election.

“The voters don’t want this, and that’s in poll after poll after poll,” said James Carville, a longtime party strategist, who worries that a lack of enthusiasm for Mr. Biden could lead to lower Democratic turnout in 2024. “You can’t look at what you look at and not feel some apprehension here.”

In recent days, a barrage of grim news for Mr. Biden, including an autoworkers strike in the Midwest that poses a challenge to his economic agenda and the beginning of impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill, has made this intraparty tension increasingly difficult to ignore. Those developments come amid a darkening polling picture, as recent surveys found that majorities of Democrats do not want him to run again, are open to an alternative in the primary and dread the idea of a Biden-Trump rematch.

A CNN poll released this month found that 67 percent of Democrats would prefer Mr. Biden not be renominated, a higher percentage than in polling conducted by The New York Times and Siena College over the summer that found half would prefer someone else.

In quiet conversations and off-the-record gatherings, Democratic officials frequently acknowledge their worries about Mr. Biden’s age and sagging approval ratings. But publicly, they project total confidence about his ability to lead and win.

“It’s definitely got a paradoxical element to it,” said Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, a Democrat who is among a group of governors who put aside their national ambitions to support Mr. Biden’s re-election bid. “This is only a matter of time until the broad party, and broadly speaking, Americans, converge with the opinions of folks like myself.”

Many party officials say that Mr. Biden is making a high-stakes bet that the power of incumbency, a good political environment for his party and the fact that Democrats generally like the president will eventually outweigh the blaring signs of concern from loyal supporters. Any discussion of an alternative is little more than a fantasy, they say, since challenging Mr. Biden would not only appear disloyal but would also most likely fail — and potentially weaken the president’s general-election standing.

One Democratic voter who backed Mr. Biden in 2020, James Collier, an accountant in Houston, sees the situation slightly differently. He said he would like Mr. Biden to clear the way for a new generation that could energize the party’s base...

Monday, September 4, 2023

Julian Jackson, France on Trial

At Amazon, Julian Jackson, France on Trial: The Case of Marshal P├ętain.

Voters Overwhelming Reject Biden As Too Old for Reelection

He's old, and he's tied for Trump in the general for 2024. 

I'm bored personally, but I'll vote for Trump in a hearbeat. 

At the Wall Street Journal, "Biden’s Age, Economic Worries Endanger Re-Election in 2024, WSJ Poll Finds":

Voters overwhelmingly think President Biden is too old to run for re-election and give him low marks for handling the economy and other issues important to their vote, according to a new Wall Street Journal poll that offers a stark warning to the 80-year-old incumbent ahead of the 2024 contest.

The negative views of Biden’s age and performance in office help explain why only 39% of voters hold a favorable view of the president. In a separate question, some 42% said they approve of how he is handling his job, well below the 57% who disapprove.

And Biden is tied with former President Donald Trump in a potential rematch of the 2020 election, with each holding 46% support in a head-to-head test.

The Journal survey, while pointing to a large set of challenges Biden faces in persuading voters that he deserves re-election, also finds weaknesses in his likely opponent. Voters in the survey rated Trump as less honest and likable than Biden, and a majority viewed Trump’s actions after his 2020 election loss as an illegal effort to stop Congress from declaring Biden the proper winner.

“Voters are looking for change, and neither of the leading candidates is the change that they’re looking for,” said Democratic pollster Michael Bocian, who conducted the survey with Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio.

Although the candidates are only three years apart, 73% of voters said they feel Biden is too old to seek a second term, compared with 47% of voters who said the same of the 77-year-old Trump. Two-thirds of Democrats said Biden was too old to run again.

By an 11-point margin, more voters see Trump rather than Biden as having a record of accomplishments as president—some 40% said Biden has such a record, while 51% said so of Trump. By an eight-point margin, more voters said Trump has a vision for the future. And by 10 points, more described Trump as mentally up to the presidency. Some 46% said that is true of Trump, compared with 36% who said so of Biden.

Biden is viewed more favorably than Trump on some personal characteristics. Some 48% of voters said Biden is likable, compared with 31% for Trump. Some 45% viewed Biden as honest, while 38% said so of Trump.

“If this race is about personality and temperament, then Biden has an advantage. If this race is about policies and performance, then Trump has the advantage,” said Fabrizio, who also polls for a super PAC supporting Trump’s candidacy.

The numbers come as Biden has spent months traveling the country promoting his economic record and legislative achievements, including major investments in infrastructure, clean energy and technology. The president has also touted job growth and higher wages under his watch, with data showing that the broader economy remains strong and inflation has cooled to its lowest rate in about two years. Unemployment remains near a 50-year low.

But 58% of voters say the economy has gotten worse over the past two years, whereas only 28% say it has gotten better, and nearly three in four say inflation is headed in the wrong direction. Those views were echoed in the survey by large majorities of independents, a group that helped deliver Biden’s victory over Trump in the 2020 presidential race. Voters were almost evenly split on the direction of the job market.


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Saturday, September 2, 2023