Challenges Facing President Biden’s Re-election Bid
As President Joe Biden formally launches his bid for re-election, he faces challenges that are both familiar and unique. One of the biggest concerns for Democrats is Biden's age, as he was the oldest president to be sworn in on his inauguration day. A USA Today/Suffolk Poll from mid-April found that 42% of 2020 Biden voters said that his age makes them less likely to support him. Additionally, a CNN/SSRS survey conducted in March found that two-thirds of adults felt as though Biden doesn’t have the stamina and sharpness to serve effectively.
While some of his supporters may be worried about his age, 55% of his voters in a USA Today/Suffolk poll said that his age didn’t make a difference to them. However, there are other concerns about Biden's appeal, as a majority of respondents in the CNN/SSRS survey thought that Biden does not inspire confidence (65%) and does not care about people like them (54%).
Furthermore, if Biden were to face someone like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is just over half Biden's age, in a general election, his age could be a liability, creating an easy generational contrast. A Wall Street Journal poll fielded in mid-to-late April found Biden (45%) trailing DeSantis (48%) among registered voters in a hypothetical head-to-head contest, while the president narrowly led Trump by just 3 percentage points.
Biden's approval ratings remain historically low, with just 42% approving of his performance, while 52% disapprove. His lack of major opposition is frustrating, as he is a lifelong moderate who has been a surprisingly progressive president, particularly when it comes to investments that help the working class. He is considered the most progressive president since Franklin D. Roosevelt according to several indicators. However, without a strong economy, it will be difficult for any future president to significantly improve their approval ratings, according to Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Despite these challenges, Biden's run for a second term already gives Democrats an edge in 2024, since they avoid both an internal party battle and have the power of incumbency on their side. Additionally, Democratic governors across the country who performed significantly better than Biden had two years prior in their states, like Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan and Josh Shapiro in Pennsylvania, could provide a boost to Biden's campaign.
As the 2024 election approaches, it remains to be seen whether Biden's age and approval ratings will be a liability or if he can overcome these challenges to secure a second term.
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