Do Americans Hate Joe Biden?

Joe Biden
February 22, 2024 Topic: Politics Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Reboot Tags: 2024 ElectionsJoe BidenPublic PollingU.S. Politics

Do Americans Hate Joe Biden?

President Biden clearly doesn’t want to quit the 2024 presidential race. And he shouldn’t do so now. With Super Tuesday, March 5, coming on fast, other potential Democratic candidates wouldn’t have time to organize campaigns

President Biden clearly doesn’t want to quit the 2024 presidential race. And he shouldn’t do so now. With Super Tuesday, March 5, coming on fast, other potential Democratic candidates wouldn’t have time to organize campaigns.

But a good idea has been floated in the New York Times – by conservative columnist Ross Douthat and liberal Ezra Klein – that Biden could withdraw before the Democratic National Convention and let the delegates pick the party’s ticket in Chicago in late August.

Both columnists write that they believe Biden has been a good president. Klein says he’s fully capable of remaining in office, but he’s failing as a candidate – looking old and frail and avoiding media interviews, including the chance to speak to a Super Bowl audience of 123.7 million people.

Klein says that the Democrats Biden trusts – Barack Obama, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and his former top aides – must persuade him to follow Pelosi’s example and pass the torch to a new generation while he’s a success rather than follow Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s example – holding on so long that Donald Trump gets his way.

Biden can probably wait until mid-May or early June to evaluate his chances. If they remain as dicey as they look now, other presidential prospects would have the time to mount a convention strategy.

As both Douthat and Klein observe, Biden once called himself a “bridge” to a younger generation of Democrats. And they also point out that, through 1968, convention delegates chose the parties’ candidates, including Abraham Lincoln and FDR.

Klein says Biden might be able to beat Trump, but the risk is that Trump wins and American democracy loses. At the moment, Trump strongly outpolls Biden in every swing state but Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.

Biden’s dilemma is that despite a robust economy and falling inflation, his job approval ratings remain dismal: 40.1% positive, 55.9% negative, according to the average of 15 polls reviewed by RealClearPolitics.

That’s little changed from his average of 39.8% for the whole of inflation-ravaged 2023.

According to a late-January NBC poll, he trails Trump by 22% on who’s better at handling the economy, 33% percent on controlling immigration, 23% on having the physical and mental health to serve as president, 21% on dealing with crime, 16% on being competent and effective and 11% on improving America’s standing in the world.

Biden outpolls Trump by just 2% on “protecting democracy,” 12% on dealing with the issue of abortion, and 17% on treating immigrants humanely.

The president delivers strong speeches defending his record and denouncing Donald Trump’s almost-daily outrages, the latest of which is his threat to refuse to come to the aid of any NATO country failing to spend 2% of its GDP on defense.

He suggested he’d “encourage Russia to do whatever the hell they want” to those countries.

Of 33 NATO countries, according to the Washington Post, 11 currently spend more than 2%, topped by Poland at 3.9% and the U.S. at 3.5%. Another 11 are within .5% of their obligation. Only eight are under that, and only tiny Luxembourg, which no one has any intention of invading, sends less than 1%. (NATO’s two newest members, Finland and Sweden, spent 1.7% and 1.3%, respectively, in 2022.)

Trump’s threat is on top of his inducing House Republicans to refuse to pass aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan – obvious gifts to the murderous Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and Ayatollah Khamenei. He also torpedoed a bipartisan border control bill, at least in part, because he wanted to keep the issue alive for the 2024 election.

But none of this seems to offset the public perception – based on Biden’s shambling gait and frequent verbal gaffes – that the incumbent president is too old to serve another four years. I thought Special Counsel Robert Hur’s report calling Biden an elderly man with a “significantly limited memory” would be a coup de grace that would force Biden to drop his reelection bid.

Hur’s report was immediately followed by an ABC News poll showing that 89% of voters think Biden is too old to be president – up from 76% in September. The current number includes 76% of Democrats.

Instead of taking the cue, Biden attacked Hur and declared himself fit to serve in a less-than-reassuring press conference. Even though Democrats are (or ought to be) nervous about the 2024 race, no prominent party leader has even hinted that Biden should step aside.

Democrats and Biden deserve a few months to turn things around. And polls indicate that if Trump is convicted of a serious crime, Biden would pull ahead.

But if Trump manages to delay his trials past Election Day and if all of Biden’s current deficits persist, both he and his party need to face the reality that he could lose to Trump and all the carnage that implies. After 50 years of dedicated service to his country, does Joe Biden want that to be his legacy?

This article was originally published by RealClearPolitics and made available via RealClearWire.

Morton Kondracke is the retired executive editor of Roll Call and a former Fox News contributor. He is co-author, with Fred Barnes, of “Jack Kemp: The Bleeding Heart Conservative Who Changed America.”