A former adviser to Barack Obama has suggested Joe Biden should drop out of the 2024 presidential race in the wake of polling that shows the President would lose to Donald Trump in five key states.
David Axelrod, who was a senior adviser to President Obama, said the poll was a sign of “legitimate concern” would send “tremors of doubt” through the Democrats.
Writing on X/Twitter, he said it was “very late to change horses”, but added: “Trump is a dangerous, unhinged demagogue whose brazen disdain for the rules, norms, laws and institutions or democracy should be disqualifying. But the stakes of miscalculation here are too dramatic to ignore.
“Only Joe Biden can make this decision. If he continues to run, he will be the nominee of the Democratic Party. What he needs to decide is whether that is wise; whether it's in HIS best interest or the country's?”
The poll can hardly be taken as anything but a dire warning sign for the Biden re-election campaign. Mr Biden is hemorrhaging voters in just about every demographic, including younger Americans, women, Hispanic and Black voters. In short, his entire 2020 coalition appears to be collapsing, triggered by concerns about his age and handling of American and global issues.
Age in particular appears to be Mr Biden’s greatest issue, even as some voters admitted to pollsters that they found his character to be upstanding compared to his likely opponent. A majority of Democrats and nearly three -quarters of all voters expressed concerns about the incumbent president’s mental acuity and fitness for the job, concerns that are frankly not shared in any comparable sense with Mr Trump, who is just a few years younger.
Mr Trump also led Mr Biden by a significant margin on the issue of the economy, with nearly six in 10 voters saying that they trusted the Republican former president on that issue more. Again, on this issue, Mr Biden’s problems reflect the breakdown of his 2020 coalition: Younger voters gave Mr Trump one of his highest advantages over the president. Less than one percent of voters under 30 rated the economy under Joe Biden — who has fought soaring inflation since taking office — as “excellent”.
One of the most interesting results in the poll was on the topic of abortion, where Mr Biden held his firmest issue-based lead over Mr Trump. The survey essentially confirmed many progressives’ theories about the 2022 midterms: That the Democratic Party position on abortion rights remains in line with the majority of Americans, despite the insistence of Republicans that there is an appetite for national restrictions on the practice.
But abortion rights will hardly be enough to put Mr Biden over the top of Mr Trump in 2024, especially given the former president’s apparent refusal to campaign in support of passing national restrictions. And on other issues where the incumbent president hoped to maintain clear advantages (such as temperament and handling of foreign affairs), he is lagging behind.
And all of these results come as commentators continue to question, in some cases openly to members of the administration, whether Mr Biden will or even should run for office again. In an interview with 60 Minutes this past week on CBS, the vice president was forced to awkwardly confirm that the president was “very much alive and running for reelection” next year.
The Times poll was not the only worrying sign for Mr Biden this weekend. An ABC News poll similarly found that majorities of every political demographic — Democrats, independents and Republicans — believe the US is headed in the wrong direction. Significant margins of Americans would be more like to vote for the respective party candidates if either or both Mr Biden and Mr Trump dropped out of the race, that poll found.
It’s unclear what, if anything, Mr Biden can do to pull out of this slump. Battered by issue after issue, he heads into November with the attention of much of the country fixated on the Israel-Gaza conflict, another topic on which Americans gave him low marks. Mr Trump fares little better, to be clear: He continues to face the coming results of his civil fraud trial in New York, and he remains under criminal indictment with more than 90 felony charges to his name.
The Times poll was conducted 22 October to 3 November, with a sample size of 3,662 registered voters. The margin of error is 1.8 per cent for the national sample, and varies between 4.4 and 4.8 per cent by state population.
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