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Biden wins Nevada primary as he continues to focus on Trump for 2020 rematch

Incumbent president appears certain to win nomination though persistent popularity issues remain

John Bowden
Washington DC
Wednesday 07 February 2024 04:57 GMT
Biden warns against Trump's threat to abortion rights

President Joe Biden won an easy victory in Nevada’s Democratic primary on Tuesday over his lone prominent rival in the state, author Marianne Williamson.

Congressman Dean Phillips, another Democrat running for the party’s nomination, did not participate in the state. Mr Biden is all but guaranteed to win the nominating contest out right, having now won Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Iowa, which traditionally votes first, has extended mail-in voting until Super Tuesday — 5 March.

His challengers have raised both Mr Biden’s age and his popularity with voters as reasons that Mr Biden should step aside and let another candidate run for the presidency. But voters have not rallied behind either Mr Phillips or Ms Williamson’s campaigns to be that alternative candidate. Mr Biden’s supporters in the party have dismissed those concerns and pointed out the tremendous disadvantage any candidate running in the incumbent president’s stead would face, as the party as a whole would face questions regarding their confidence in Mr Biden’s agenda.

Mr Biden has ignored his Democratic would-be rivals completely, and has turned his eyes to the general election. All indications point to a rematch with Donald Trump in November, as the former president continues to lead the Republican nominating contest, winning two victories and scaring off all of his prominent rivals save for Nikki Haley. Ms Haley was expected to lose her own party’s primary on Tuesday evening, with a catch: Mr Trump did not compete, instead participating in the GOP-run caucuses set for this Thursday. She lost instead to “none of these candidates”, behind which the sizable Trump-supporting contingent of GOP voters rallied.

The state party will award Nevada’s GOP delegates to the winner of the caucus, meaning that Ms Haley will be no closer to overtaking Mr Trump.

The president led his likely rival in cash-on-hand heading into the new year, while Mr Trump’s legal bills stemming from 91 felony criminal charges and a slew of civil suits threaten to pose a massive financial drain on his bid for the White House. But Mr Biden continues to face low popularity numbers and disillusionment within his own party’s base over the US’s role in the Israel-Gaza conflict. Concerns about his age also continue to haunt the president, who in repeated surveys faces significant numbers of voters who question his mental fitness and cognitive function.

Democrats have seen their prospects boosted by some wins over the course of Mr Biden’s presidency, however, and Mr Trump’s worsening legal issues give the party a good deal of hope heading into the spring. The president has signed a handful of pieces of major legislation into law, including a bipartisan infrastructure bill which has led to surges of funding for many local projects nationwide. His efforts to battle rising inflation which has struck many countries after the Covid-19 pandemic have also started to pay off, though key categories like housing and food remained high in January.

Republicans in the House have spent much of the time following their assumption of the majority in 2023 attempting to drive down the president’s popularity with investigations into his family’s business affairs that have been criticised as spurious by their own GOP colleauges. More recently this effort has grown to include an impeachment effort targeting Alejandro Mayorkas, Mr Biden’s Secretary of Homeland Security. On Tuesday, a vote to impeach Mr Mayorkas failed in the lower chamber, though Republicans have vowed to bring it up again.

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