This is not normal. We’ve seen some evidence that Democrats aren’t sold on nominating President Biden for a second term, including a poll in November showing a majority of Democrats didn’t want him to run again. But lots of Republicans say the same about a repeat run for Donald Trump in 2024 — yet he’s the clear front-runner when you pit him against actual would-be opponents.
Democrats need to decide what this means for them. Certainly, there’s an argument to be made that the best path forward is to pick a different nominee. But if Biden is intent on running again, do you allow a competitive primary that could put the choice in voters’ hands — and risk damaging the incumbent president, al a Jimmy Carter vs. Ted Kennedy in 1980? Do you subtly suggest to Biden that it might be better to pass the torch, and hope that it works? Or do you just hope things with his presidency get better?
These very important questions will probably have to wait until after Democrats see how the 2022 elections pan out. But in the meantime, we’ve seen the kind of jockeying you might expect in such a scenario. Biden hasn’t even been totally explicit that he will run again, which would seem to give the greenlight to others prepping for the case that he won’t.
With all of this in mind, we’re changing our approach to our quarterly presidential rankings. In previous installments, we excluded Biden from the list, suggesting we’d probably have a true primary only if he didn’t run. But we increasingly need to consider the possibility that, if he does run, he won’t have the field to himself — and that he might not be the most likely nominee, all things considered.
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