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Here We Go: Plurality of Dems Want Non-Biden 2024 Nominee, Vaccine Mandates Now Underwater

AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

Over the last few months, a number of people have started asking me about the 2024 election and who might be the strongest Republican to defeat President Biden. I've responded by questioning the premise of the question because I am not at all convinced that Biden will run for re-election. In a few weeks, he'll turn 79 years old, and virtually every single person who's watched him operate as president will either strongly assert or tepidly concede that he's lost a step or two. Others would say that's putting it kindly, and the issue of his capacity has become glaring enough at times that the Wall Street Journal editorial board "went there" in a recent piece. Republicans would obviously like to see Biden replaced after the next election, and if current polling trends hold, so would a vast number of independents. 

But a new NPR survey out this week suggests that even many Democrats aren't overly eager for a second Biden term -- and this was before Tuesday's elections: 

Biden's standing in the eyes of voters may improve over time, but it seems unlikely that his acuity and sharpness will. If a sizable portion, let alone a plurality, of Democrats are unenthusiastic about sticking with "the big guy" in 2024, that could very much impact his decision on seeking another term. Biden cast himself as a transition-era president, urging Democrats to nominate him in order to beat Donald Trump, then eventually hand the baton to a younger and more left-wing generation of partisans at some point in the future. That "some point" may end up arriving sooner than later. Now, let's face it: It's still 2021, and Biden hasn't even been president for an entire year yet. It is extremely premature to write the guy off. But if Democrats are antsy about his performance thus far, they may get even antsier as they turn their eyes to Biden's heir apparent. His vice president does not fare well on favorability, is often cringe-inducing, but also is an elected Democratic VP who checks many identity boxes that so dominate progressive discourse. Would this be the savior

Another thought: If the chatter grows louder about Biden being a single-termer, his closest advisers will start to wonder if various figures within his orbit are acting in accordance with his wishes as president, on behalf of his presidency, or if they'll be positioning themselves to fulfill their own aspirations. That would not create a terribly healthy environment inside the White House. As for the here and now, let's revisit a few of the latest polling numbers that have Democrats anxious. We've already covered some of the big takeaways on Monday, but here are a few more, via National Journal's Josh Kraushaar: 

The "threat to democracy" response from independents is interesting considering how hard Democrats have been messaging on that point. It's not landing with many, and unified Democratic control of DC seems to worry a lot people as much or more. The vaccine mandate shift is also notable. One of the most common defenses of President Biden's most famous COVID policy was that it's popular. That might be changing, as perhaps many swing voters aren't in love with the idea of people losing their jobs over lack of vaccination (especially if natural immunity can be established). People may like the idea of requiring people to get the shot, but does that change if the edict causes significant inconveniences, disruptions, or dangers (in the case of first responders), that could be changing the calculus. And finally, Republicans are hoping that the intensity gap evidenced by Biden's strong approval/disapproval number translates on a turnout level in Virginia's gubernatorial race today. I'll leave you with my analysis of Biden's terrible polling on Fox yesterday. It's just a snapshot in time, but it's not a very concerning one for the party in power, especially just ahead of a contested battleground election and a delicate moment on Capitol Hill: 


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