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Democrats Stay in Line Behind Biden Despite Damaging Poll Projections

If Democrats are feeling as if they need a change at the top of the ticket after a sobering poll that shows Joe Biden facing potential defeat to Donald Trump, they sure aren’t showing it

President Joe Biden is pictured at an event at the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House on October 23, 2023 in Washington, DC.(ANNA MONEYMAKER/GETTY IMAGES)

A year-out poll sent shockwaves through the political world this week, suggesting a significant lead in swing states for former President Donald Trump over President Joe Biden ahead of the presidential election that dealt a somber reality check to the party and prompted scatterer calls for another path forward.

The New York Times/Siena poll released over the weekend showed former President Donald Trump leading Biden in five of six battleground states surveyed, suggesting that, should the dynamic continue, Trump would return to the Oval Office in 2024.

For Democrats, it’s a sobering look at how – compared to 2020, when Biden ascended to the White House on a pledge to return the country to normalcy – the president has seemed to lose support. And his appeal among Black and Latino voters, groups that have been foundational within the Democratic Party, seemed to suffer the deepest loss of support, especially among younger voters.

And while Trump’s popularity hasn’t risen – with a bumpy road of his own to Election Day that leads through courtrooms across the country where he faces charges from four criminal indictments related to his presidency – he hasn’t suffered the losses that have plagued Biden’s reelection campaign.

The survey results suggest that an unnamed, generic Democrat would fare better than Biden in 2024, leading Trump by 8 points while Biden trails by 4 – a formidable 12-point swing.

The survey captures a moment in time – albeit not a very good moment for Biden. He faces lingering blame from voters over an economy that is worse in perception than reality and ongoing concerns over his age, which, at 80, is three years older than Trump. Biden has seen a loss of support from some progressives over his handling of Israel’s war in Gaza, though it remains to be seen if that erosion is permanent or if those voters would return to the Democratic fold rather than vote for Trump or even just stay home. Many commentators have also noted that polls had former President Barack Obama trailing GOP nominee Mitt Romney a year out from the race in 2012 – a contest Obama would go on to win decisively.

Still, the results prompted calls from some Democratic strategists to nominate someone else. David Axelrod, a former Obama strategist, wrote on social media that the survey will send “tremors of doubt” through the party, and suggested that Biden should weigh his reelection bid.

“If he continues to run, he will be the nominee of the Democratic Party,” Axelrod wrote. “What he needs to decide is whether that is wise; whether it’s in HIS best interest or the country’s.”

Bill Kristol, a conservative political commentator who endorsed Biden over Trump in 2020, wrote in a post on social media that “it’s time for Biden to announce he won’t run in 2024.”

“President Biden has served our country well. I’m confident he’ll do so for the next year,” Kristol wrote. “But it’s time for an act of personal sacrifice and public spirit. It’s time to pass the torch to the next generation.”

But if Democrats in Congress are feeling the same anxiety about Biden’s prospects, they have been largely reluctant to express it. Outside of Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota, who announced a challenge to Biden’s White House bid last month, Democrats have stood squarely behind Biden in his reelection campaign, as he’s positioned himself as the only candidate with a history of defeating Trump. But as the survey, and other recent polling suggest amid ailing support among his party, a repeat of that reality may be out of reach.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who leads the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told MSNBC on Sunday that seeing the survey marked the first time she has felt the election is in “great trouble” for Biden. And Rep. Jasmine Crockett, Texas Democrat, told CNN that the results were “really scary.”

Still, few were willing to call for Biden to bow out. And few voices on Capitol Hill wanted to publicly take on the survey’s findings, saying they weren’t familiar with the results or would not comment on the projections – if not a ringing endorsement, also not a sign of wavering support.

Even if the party was willing to embrace another candidate, who that would be remains unclear. Though the poll surveyed how Kamala Harris would fare in a hypothetical matchup against Trump, who performed only slightly better than Biden, other possible Democratic nominees – like California Gov. Gavin Newsom or Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer – remain largely untested. And the list is relatively short, with some 2020 veteran candidates and 2028 potential contenders like Harris and Pete Buttigieg currently serving in the administration and all but certain not to entertain a bid to upstage the commander in chief.

The rest of the Democratic establishment has lined up in lockstep behind Biden, making a primary challenge not only an uphill battle from the outset but also potentially damaging to any future ambitions beyond 2024. So whether a bid for the White House could come from a more mainstream, high-profile Democrat – enticed by any attractive poll numbers Phillips could muster as an alternative choice – remains to be seen.

And the clock is ticking as the deadlines to file one’s candidacy in states have begun to pass or draw near. So should a Democrat with a more viable chance of beating Biden see what the survey suggests is writing on the wall, they may be too late to even enter the race.

Between the time crunch and pressure from the party, a more formidable opponent appears unlikely.

“We got a year to go,” Sen. Joe Manchin, West Virginia Democrat who’s been floated by a third party group to launch his own bid, told reporters on Monday. “It’s a marathon, I mean a long marathon. Everything will work out.”

Source: US News