By Taariq Ahmed
Edited by Annika Lilja
Although the 2024 Presidential Election is still more than two years away and America is still contemplating the last election itself, there is a substantial amount of political analysis and discussion about the next election already taking place right now. As public opinion of both Biden and Trump fluctuate and the chances of a 2020 rematch hang in the balance, there is a seemingly complicated landscape within both the Democratic and Republican parties regarding 2024. To clear it all up, here is a breakdown of the early 2024 coverage we’ve seen so far, using poll numbers, expert opinions and in-depth research. In this article, we’ll focus on the Democratic Party.
Essentially, everything revolves around whether or not President Joe Biden decides to run for reelection. Biden has reiterated his plans for running in 2024 on several occasions, including during a press conference in May 2021 and during an interview in December. But based on the polls, Biden is not exactly performing well; Biden’s presidential approval rating currently wades in the high-40s after dangling in the upper-30s during the summer. But here is where things become more complicated; Biden is seeing a visible decrease in support from the Democratic Party itself, a pressing concern in regards to 2024. A poll by The New York Times/Siena College, one of the highest-ranking pollsters in the country, showed that 64% of Democratic voters want the party to nominate another candidate for 2024 (Biden’s age and job performance listed as the top reasons), while a more recent CNN poll advanced that figure to 75%. Both polls showed around just a quarter of Democratic voters in favor of a Biden reelection campaign. And poll numbers aren’t the only evidence that show Biden is losing support from the party; many of Biden’s fellow Democrats in Congress have avoided openly declaring support for a Biden 2024 campaign. In terms of the media, critical opinion pieces arguing that Biden should not run again are becoming common; especially from columnists of left-leaning outlets. Examples include pieces by Steven L. Isenberg of The Washington Post, Marc Leibovich of The Atlantic, and Maureen Dowd and Bret Stephens of the New York Times.
Now, those were the negative points for Biden, so let’s explore the other side of the discussion. If one were to review the expansive list of recent poll results, they would find Biden consistently places first in a hypothetical 2024 Democratic primary. And according to the Times/Siena poll from earlier, an overwhelming 92% of Democratic voters claimed they would vote for Biden if a 2020 rematch against former president Donald Trump were to occur in 2024. It seems like, if given no other option, a substantial number of Democrats could end up supporting Biden in 2024 anyways, even if the Times/Siena poll suggests a majority of them prefer a new candidate. Chris Cillizza of CNN Politics writes, “If Biden decides he wants to run for a second term, he will almost certainly be the party's nominee– and probably won't have to fight all that hard for it. It's an open question as to whether that is the best thing for Democrats nationally.” Now in order to ensure we’re considering everything, let’s address the other perspective, which is; although the other potential candidates in the field lack the advantages that Biden has as the incumbent, that’s not to say there isn’t a possibility for any of them to take on Biden head-to-head, and even win.
So what happens if Biden chooses not to run at all? Unofficial speculation-based shortlists (and in some cases, longlists) of other potential candidates, or even suggested substitutes for Biden, are being floated by the media. Vice President Kamala Harris, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT), Sen. Elizabteh Warren (D-MA), California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and several others are among the candidates being mentioned. These candidates are household names for Democrats, as many of them are familiar faces from 2020. But even though many Democrats are resorting to find a replacement for Biden in regards to 2024, the path for any of the speculated nominees above is a difficult one. And importantly, candidates such as Elizatbeth Warren and Gavin Newsom have made it very clear they don’t have any intentions of running for president in 2024. However, a top political adviser to Bernie Sanders recently claimed that, “In the event of an open [Biden is not running] 2024 Democratic presidential primary, Sen. Sanders has not ruled out another run for president.” So if Biden decides not to run, Sanders, and possibly others from the longlist, could announce a 2024 campaign. Ultimately, the bottom line is these political analyses and discussions are just analyses and discussions for the time being; absolutely nothing is set in stone yet. Only time will tell and completely answer our questions.