Despite all the speculation swirling around Donald Trump and the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, it’s possible, if not likely, that the most intense battle will be between the Democrats. A new poll from Mark Penn, the former Clinton strategist who leads the Harvard-Harris poll, suggests President Joe Biden’s support among Democrats is significantly lower than Trump’s support among Republicans. And that could lead to chaos on the Democratic side.
Penn’s question was very simple. To Republicans, he asked, “If the Republican presidential primary for the 2024 election were held today, who would you vote for? And to Democrats, he asked, “If the Democratic presidential primary for the 2024 election were held today, who would you vote for?
The results: 41% of Republicans nominated Trump, while 12% nominated Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, 7% nominated former Vice President Mike Pence and 4% each nominated the former UN ambassador Nikki Haley and Senator Ted Cruz. There were a few other names further down – Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Tim Scott, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – and a sizable percentage, 28%, who said they weren’t sure or would choose someone else.
On the Democratic side, the results were 23% for Biden, while 9% nominated Vice President Kamala Harris, 8% nominated Senator Bernie Sanders, 7% backed 2016 candidate Hillary Clinton and 5% backed the secretary. at Pete Buttigieg Transportation. Another sizeable number of people, 31%, said they weren’t sure or named someone else.
The result is staggering for Biden — just 23% of Democrats said they would vote for their party’s incumbent president if the primary were held today. It’s weak, weak, weak. But even at that, of course, Biden is stronger than the rest of the Democratic field, if a Democratic field can be said to exist right now.
Of course, there should be no Democratic field at all. There shouldn’t even be a race on the Democratic side. When there is a relatively new president, still before his first half terms, it is assumed that 1) he will run for re-election, and 2) he will easily secure his party’s nomination, almost always unopposed. In the case of Joe Biden, neither is guaranteed.
By comparison, Trump is a more powerful presence in the Republican race than Biden in the Democratic contest. And when Penn then polled voters on a Biden-Trump general election matchup, Trump won, but it was close — 45% to 42%, with 13% uncertain.
Then Penn asked about another game: Harris vs. Trump. Trump won easier – 47% to 40%, with 13% uncertain.
Then Penn asked about one last contest: Harris vs. DeSantis. The vice president won, but narrowly – 41% against 38%, with a large contingent, 20%, uncertain.
So what does all of this say? He says that even in his weakened state — old, slowing, Jobs approval rating stuck at around 40% — Biden is probably the Democrats’ best hope of keeping the White House in 2024. That may not be a good hope, but it’s the party’s best hope.
This is a subject of intense unease among many Democrats. A recent New York magazine article detailed the party’s agonizing search for an alternative to the president – and the fear that there is no good alternative. The strongest proponent of the no-alternative view, of course, is the president himself. Biden, the article reports, is convinced that 1) Trump must be stopped, and 2) the only person who can stop him is Joe Biden.
“As far as Biden’s camp is concerned, there is no ambiguity about 2024,” author Gabriel Debenedetti wrote. “He said privately that he sees himself as the only thing standing between the country and the Trumpian abyss and asked his aides to redouble their planning for a rematch.”
“Biden is buoyed by his contempt for Trump and the imperative to keep him out of office,” Debenedetti continued. “‘If Trump is alive,’ veteran adviser says, ‘Biden shows up.'” The president doesn’t seem to realize, or doesn’t seem to care, that many Americans don’t believe he should stand. represent at age 82. “Faced with a country he doubts will run, Biden grows increasingly convinced he must,” Debenedetti wrote.
Biden’s obsession with Trump and Trump’s obsession with avenging his loss in 2020 could lock the two men – one 82, the other 78 – in something of a political deathmatch.
Unless the voters of one or both parties so decide.