President Biden is coming into the brand new yr using excessive off a better-than-expected midterm election efficiency for his celebration that has improved his political standing whereas damaging his chief GOP rival — former President Trump.
But Biden additionally enters the brand new yr with lingering questions over his age and his general political power — most notably whether or not he can defeat a special Republican in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis if he’s the GOP nominee in 2024.
DeSantis has mentioned he’s centered on his job in Florida and, not like Trump, he’s not formally within the 2024 race. However he’s anticipated to come back underneath stress to get in as Republicans search for a stronger candidate in 2024 than the previous president.
Whereas Trump’s picture has been tarnished by the GOP’s disappointing midterm elections, DeSantis coasted to reelection in Florida as Republicans general in his state carried out strongly.
If Biden had an excellent midterm, DeSantis had an amazing one, and he’d symbolize a really totally different sort of problem than Trump for Biden — if he had been to defeat Trump in a GOP main.
Cristina Antelo, a Democratic strategist who runs Ferox Methods, mentioned Biden’s age stays a priority amongst Democratic voters, regardless of a string of legislative accomplishments by Democrats underneath Biden — and his celebration’s midterm efficiency.
Biden, 80, would end a second time period on the age of 86. Working in opposition to DeSantis, 44, as a substitute of the 76-year-old Trump might draw a special sort of distinction for Biden.
“It’s loopy to me that Biden is polling so low, even with Dems, contemplating how a lot has been completed in these first two years,” Antelo mentioned. “However, sure, Dems appear frightened that ‘an previous white man’ on the prime of the ticket simply isn’t going to chop it if the threats to democracy that Trump embodies aren’t on the poll.”
Biden’s rise in 2020 had quite a bit to do with Trump. An enormous a part of his marketing campaign was that he was the Democrat finest positioned to finish the Trump presidency. Biden himself mentioned he probably wouldn’t have run for the White Home that yr if Trump had not been president.
Polls proceed to indicate Biden with an edge over Trump, however the head-to-head polls matching up Biden and DeSantis give Republicans motive for optimism.
A Marquette Legislation College ballot launched on Dec. 1 discovered Biden and DeSantis tied in a 2024 match-up, with 42 p.c of registered voters choosing every candidate.
The ballot confirmed Biden 10 factors forward of Trump, suggesting the incumbent president may be an even bigger favourite in opposition to his previous opponent.
Most Democrats, at the least on the report, specific confidence in Biden no matter who his opponent is, although some do acknowledge DeSantis might have some benefits in comparison with Trump.
“Not having Trump’s insurmountable baggage is a large benefit for DeSantis, nevertheless it stays TBD whether or not he possesses Trump’s skills as a candidate,” mentioned Bruce Mehlman, a former assistant secretary on the Commerce Division underneath former President George W. Bush.
Different polls give credence to Democratic fears about Biden’s age.
A current USA At the moment-Suffolk College ballot discovered that fifty p.c of Individuals desire a president between 51 and 65 years previous, whereas 25 p.c desire a president 35 to 50 years previous. Solely 8 p.c mentioned they wished a president who’s between the ages of 66 and 80.
Biden will virtually definitely be the Democratic nominee in 2024 until he decides in opposition to a run, or if his well being does falter.
And various Democrats say he’ll be robust to defeat irrespective of who his GOP opponent is.
“In essence, it at all times comes all the way down to are you able to inspire the bottom,” mentioned Ivan Zapien, a former Democratic Nationwide Committee official.
He mentioned it may very well be a more durable problem for Biden in opposition to a non-Trump GOP nominee, however added that Biden “has confirmed that he can inspire the bottom very successfully and that’s a proof level that I feel works to his benefit if he decides to run no matter who he runs in opposition to.”
Democratic strategist Michael Starr Hopkins mentioned Biden has already proved his detractors improper as soon as with the coalition he has been in a position to construct.
“President Biden has managed to unify the Democratic Occasion in a means that no Democrat might have predicted 4 years in the past. He’s constructed a coalition of progressives and moderates that proved through the midterms could be a profitable mixture,” Hopkins mentioned. “If I’m Ron DeSantis, I’d assume twice about operating in opposition to Biden on this cycle.”
Marc Lampkin, a Republican lobbyist at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and a former adviser to former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), mentioned the midterm elections had been much less about persona than they had been about points, just like the Supreme Courtroom’s determination to overturn Roe v. Wade. That helped Democrats and will proceed to take action in 2024.
“Within the midterm election, there have been two competing narratives: There was the Republican narrative of inflation and referendum of Joe Biden. Democrats had been speaking concerning the Trump overhang, but additionally had been in a position to discuss to some key constituencies after the Dobbs determination,” Lampkin mentioned, referring to the Supreme Courtroom determination toppling Roe v. Wade.
Different Democrats say that irrespective of who Biden faces, he ought to deal with promoting his personal achievements.
“The president must spend his time promoting the accomplishments that he has had after which speaking about what he would do if he’s reelected,” mentioned Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic lobbyist and donor.
“I feel for this reelection, or any reelect, you need to fear about issues you’ll be able to management. I don’t know that they will actually management what occurs on the Republican aspect,” he added. “As we’ve seen with Trump from the day he began, individuals underestimate him.”