It’s no secret that President Joe Biden’s popularity has taken a nosedive. In the last eight months, Americans have had to deal with historically high inflation over 9%, nearly $6 a gallon gasoline, a grocery bill that is 40% higher than last year, a national baby formula shortage, and skyrocketing rent and home prices, just to name a few. Adding to the domestic disaster of Biden’s policies is that of a weak and feckless commander in chief that led the chaotic retreat of U.S. armed forces from Afghanistan, where Vietnam-like images were broadcast into American living rooms with 13 U.S. soldiers dead. Today, President Biden’s approval rating sits at 42.6%, with a disapproval rating of 54.4%, a -11.8 point spread, according to a Real Clear Politics (RCP) average of recent polls. In fact, a CNN poll from July showed that 75% of national Democrat and Democrat-leaning voters don’t want Biden to run again in 2024. Those numbers give other Democrat contenders an opening to make their case. So who could Democrats run for president in 2024? Let’s take a look.
The logical choice, should President Biden make the historic decision to step aside after one term, would be for Vice President Kamala Harris to take the baton. According to a CNBC report earlier this summer, Harris has been meeting with major Democrat donors at her California residence fueling speculation that she is maneuvering to be the heir-apparent. However, Harris’s popularity is even worse than Biden’s, sitting today at 36% favorable to 51% unfavorable, a -15 point spread, according to the RCP average.
Former Democratic presidential candidates, such as Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, are more well known. Other names among the chatter include Colorado Governor and former Congressman Jared Polis, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX).
But there is one Democrat that has national name recognition, currently holds executive office in a deep blue state, and who doesn’t carry the baggage of Washington, DC: California Governor Gavin Newsom. His name is being floated as a potential presidential contender should Biden decide not to run, and recent moves by Newsom have raised eyebrows in the media and the party elite. Newsom is running for re-election this fall, yet he is spending his money on TV advertisements hitting the Republican Party in Texas and Florida, taking indirect swipes at Governors Greg Abbott (R-TX) and Ron DeSantis (R-FL), both possible future opponents who have run their own ads in California this cycle. Around the same time, Newsom hit the Washington, DC fundraising circuit, a move that shows national ambition. An added boost of confidence for Newsom came a few weeks ago when a Berkeley Institute of Governmental Services-Los Angeles Times online poll found that “California voters don’t want President Joe Biden to run for a second term, and the state’s Democrats have Gov. Gavin Newsom leading a list of alternatives for the 2024 presidential nomination,” the Sacramento Bee reported, with 61% of likely California voters opposed to a Biden rerun.
Republicans should welcome a Biden rerun as much as a Newsom presidential bid. A California vs Texas or Florida record reveals contrasts that favor Republican leadership. For example, a newly released Heritage Foundation report finds Florida ranking #1 in Education freedom while the Libertarian CATO Institute ranks Florida as the #1 most economically free state in the US. Also, compare California’s 13.3% income tax to Florida’s 0% income tax and you see the battle lines already being drawn. Not to mention President Trump who leads widely in most polls to be the 2024 Republican nominee would run circles around Newsom in any debate.
Democrats have a small bench of DC-insiders and poorly performing Democratic governors that may leave them with no choice but to renominate Biden or back Harris. Then again, no one saw Obama coming at this point before 2008. One thing is for sure, Republicans can confidently look to 2024 and say: bring it on.
Bob Carlstrom is President of AMAC Action
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