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Should Biden stay in the race for the 2024 presidential election? An overview of his arguments.

Should Biden stay in the race for the 2024 presidential election? An overview of his arguments.

There are certainly good reasons for President Biden to resist pressure to drop out of his 2024 re-election campaign. They are just not always the reasons he and his team have put forward.

Biden and his campaign team have offered a number of justifications in recent days as to why he should not give in to this pressure and pass the torch to someone else, often suggesting that he is best placed to take on Donald Trump or even only One who can defeat him – despite Biden’s poor poll numbers. Even more often, it is a novel interpretation of the electoral landscape that bears little resemblance to the available data.

As Democrats continue their lengthy internal debate, we thought it would be useful to analyze some of the arguments put forward by the incumbent and his team.

“All the data shows that the average Democrat out there – 14 million of them voted for me – still wants me to be the nominee, and to be the number one candidate. … I wanted to make sure I was right that the average voter out there still wants Joe Biden. And I’m confident that’s the case.”

“I’m so frustrated with the elites … in the party who know so much more.” (Monday interview “Morning Joe” by MSNBC)

There is clearly an effort to portray this as an attempt by powerful people to force Biden out of office. But it is not just the “elites” who want Biden to step down, and it is not clear whether the “average” Democratic voter wants him to stay. In fact, according to several polls, at least half of Biden’s electorate wants him to step down, and it appears that the average Democratic voter is undecided.

In a CNN poll after the debate, 56 percent of Democratic-leaning voters said their party would have a better chance with “someone else,” compared to 43 percent who said their party would have a better chance with “someone else.” A New York Times-Siena College poll found Democrats almost evenly split on whether their party should field another candidate. In a CBS News-YouGov poll, 46 percent of Democrats said Biden should not run, while 54 percent said he should run.

Yes, polls can be wrong. But even if they’re off by just a few percentage points, that’s a large portion of the electorate that wants someone else – even long after the primaries have ended with Biden as the likely nominee.

“Secondly, remember all that talk about me not having the support of black people? Come on. Give me a break. Come with me. Pay attention. Pay attention.” (“Morning Joe”)

It would be shocking if Biden did not win a strong majority of black voters. But the real question is how much support he is losing in this all-important and often overwhelmingly Democratic group. And virtually every poll shows him struggling compared to previous Democrats.

Since at least 1972, Democrats have never won less than 80 percent of the black vote, and Biden won it in 2020 by 92 percent to 8 percent, according to the Pew Research Center’s Validated Voter poll.

A large Pew Research Center poll in May found that Biden lost about twice as many black voters — 18 percent — when compared head-to-head with Trump. That poll showed that more than half of black voters wanted to replace Biden in the race.

“The New York Times had me ten points behind before the debate – now nine, or whatever it is. … The New York Times had me behind before anything to do with this (debate) – they had me ten points behind. Ten points, they had me behind. Nothing material has changed in the New York Times poll since the debate.” (ABC News interview on Friday)

According to the Times-Siena poll immediately before the debate, Biden was actually trailing by between three and seven percentage points (not ten), depending on whether you include third-party candidates and whether you focus on likely or registered voters.

(In fact, no high-quality poll this year – like the one compiled by FiveThirtyEight – has shown Biden trailing Donald Trump by double digits.)

Biden’s deficit in the Times-Siena poll grew after the debate to between five and eight points, depending on how you look at it. The shifts in this and other polls were generally within the margin of error, but there were enough polls showing a small shift against Biden to make it logical to assume that it was has was a shift.

Other polls since then also suggest that voters are even more concerned about Biden’s age and judgment and view him less favorably. His deficit in the national average of FiveThirtyEight polls has grown by about two percentage points since the debate, and his average approval rating has hit a historic low of about 37 percent.

“President Joe Biden is the only person standing between us and another term for Donald Trump…” (Biden spokesman TJ Ducklo on Saturday)

Without explicitly saying that only Biden can beat Trump, that has been the tenor of much of the backlash. Biden and his allies often point out, for example, that he is the only candidate who actually beat Trump (in 2020).

Biden said in December that “probably 50” Democrats were capable of defeating Trump. Months earlier, Biden had said that while he was not the “only one” who could beat Trump and protect democracy, he was “best positioned” to do so. (It should be noted that Trump has only been involved in three contested election campaigns in total, including the 2016 primaries and general election.)

Whether Biden Is Best positioned? The few polls we have show that other Democrats are doing similarly and in some cases better than Biden. Michelle Obama is ahead of Trump by double digits in a Reuters-Ipsos poll, and Vice President Harris did slightly better than Biden in the CNN poll (but worse than Biden in other polls).

And many other potential candidates are far less well-known, which often depresses poll numbers, so there’s a chance voters will find them more compelling than a president with a 37 percent approval rating.

The fact that many Democratic Senate candidates are currently doing better than Biden in their states certainly suggests that, at least theoretically, someone else could be stronger in the presidential race. Of course, that’s just theory.

“I don’t care what these big names (liberals and Democrats who are suggesting he drop out) think. They were wrong in 2020. They were wrong in 2022 about the red wave. They were wrong in 2024. … Not only were they wrong, I told them beforehand they were wrong. … I wasn’t surprised; I predicted it.” (“Morning Joe”)

Biden was written off by some in the 2020 primaries after losing the first three states. (His clear victory in South Carolina put him on course for victory.) But in the general election, he was the generally accepted favorite all along. And general elections are more predictable based on party affiliation.

As for 2022, while many analysts and politicians have raised the possibility of a “red wave,” it has generally not come from liberals and Democrats. And high-quality polls were not as worrying for Democrats then as they are today. In fact, predictions of a red wave were largely ignored the fairly accurate polls.

“The last time I ran in 2020, I won a very large portion of the Democrats.” (ABC News)

Biden actually performed better than most major Democratic Senate candidates in the 2020 election—8 out of 10, to be exact—making it plausible that his performance helped them.

It is questionable to what extent this was due to voters simply not liking Trump, but post-election polls showed that a narrow majority of voters (52 percent) had a favorable opinion of Biden at the time.

However, Biden’s image is quite different today; his approval rating is around 38 percent. (Approval is more of a personal measure, while approval refers to job performance.)

“But if any of these guys think I shouldn’t run, then let them run against me. Go ahead. Announce your candidacy for president. Challenge me at the convention.” (“Morning Joe”)

There is no plausible alternative for anyone else at the convention if Biden does not drop out. But that is not necessarily because the base does not want it, but because the vast majority of delegates pledged their support to Biden after his performance in the primaries.

“The voters – and only the voters – decide the candidate of the Democratic Party. How can we stand up for democracy in our country if we ignore it in our own party? I cannot do that. I will not do that.” (Monday letter to my fellow Democrats)

It is important to note that Biden was the overwhelming majority of Democratic voters in the primaries. Well-known Democrats could have challenged him. They did not, for various reasons, and he won by a wide margin.

If the delegates select the new candidate or crown Harris, it is clearly a less democratic process.

But the idea that forcing him to drop out is a disrespect for democracy is a bit far-fetched. His allies aren’t talking about delegates overturning the results; they’re talking about persuading Biden to drop out voluntarily in the face of new evidence raising concerns about his ability to campaign. And voters who were hesitant to vote for him in the primaries had no real, viable alternative.