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OPINION

Joe Biden Needs Donald Trump

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

It’s no secret that President Biden has problems entering the 2024 election cycle. With lackluster approval ratings and a presidency facing real and potential scandals, the president’s prospects for reelection are not quite bleak but they’re certainly not bright.  

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A Wall Street Journal survey this week showed that Biden and (for now) likely Republican nominee Donald Trump have identical approval ratings, and they’re not good. With favorability at 39% and unfavorability at 58%, the odds of another ‘lesser of two evils’ election are high, should these two men win their party’s nomination and soldier on to Election Day. 

While these numbers suggest a horse race today, another data point of greater consequence is lurking. Trump has a 27% ‘very favorable’ rating while Biden’s ‘very favorable’ number is 17%. Adding to the president’s woes, 73% or those surveyed believe Biden is “too old” for a second term, including two-thirds of Democrats. 

These and other factors - the state of the economy, a Green Party candidate calling the Democratic Party “beyond redemption,” and the president’s repeated gaffes and feeble demeanor in public engagements - point to a pronounced lack of enthusiasm for Joe Biden. 

The electorate in general, and many Democrats in particular, are simply not very excited about Biden or his candidacy. This is not a favorable landscape for getting his voters to the polls; the Biden campaign needs to find something to better motivate them. The ‘something’ Biden needs is Donald Trump. 

Joe Biden has done a few things to earn the approval of his base. Attempts to eliminate or reduce student loan debt, a liberal Supreme Court appointment and some Green New Deal items in larger legislation come to mind. But these partisan wins may not outweigh worries over his increasingly doddering public behavior and the likelihood of more revelations regarding his involvement with his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings. His base just doesn’t seem ready to rally around his campaign.

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But should Trump win the GOP nomination, Biden becomes much less the aging, cognitively questionable, uninspiring incumbent, and much more the anti-Trump. That alone provides a high-amperage spark to energize an otherwise languid base. 

It is exponentially easier for Biden to be the anti-Trump as opposed to being the anti-DeSantis or the anti-Haley, for example. The Florida governor and former South Carolina governor have not been subject to the better part of a decade’s worth of withering and often false media criticism as Trump has. Biden needs what is organic to a Trump campaign; a built-in hate factor that excites Democrats, and which is unequaled by anyone else seeking the Republican nomination. 

Democrats don’t seem eager to knock on doors to promote all the good things Biden claims to have done. With liberal mayors and governors complaining loudly about the results of Biden’s immigration policies, lingering economic headwinds for working families, and concerns about the president’s age that will only increase with time, convincing ordinary Americans and political independents to reelect the incumbent is a pretty heavy lift. The question, “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” will not yield an answer that comforts Democrats. 

But knocking on doors and reminding people about all the real and perceived shortcomings of Donald Trump is more likely to resonate with people than a recitation of what Joe Biden has done since 2021. It may be enough to distract people from high food and gas prices, fear of rising crime and the elevated mortgage interest rates that make home ownership unaffordable for a growing number of Americans. 

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Trump may be the anti-Biden in the minds of some people but he does not need to be the anti-Biden, anymore than he needs to be the anti-Newsom or the anti-Harris, or any other Democrat who may become the 2024 standard bearer. For now, his base is already energized and a lot of people would vote for Trump because they believe in him and his policies. Biden cannot say the same to the degree Trump can. 

Joe Biden is like a road-tripping electric vehicle owner whose battery is at 5% and who’s searching for a charging station along the highway while passing mile after mile of gas stations. He needs the jolt of a Trump candidacy if he’s going to have a chance of making it to his destination without being stranded in the middle of nowhere.  

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